Monday, January 22, 2018
Education

Suncoast reading program promotes connections through books

SPRING HILL — Suncoast Elementary School joined the Global Read Aloud this year, though it was a scaled-down version.

Since it was the school's first time to participate, teachers focused on connecting among teachers and classrooms within the school before heading out into the world.

The Global Read Aloud is an attempt "to collaborate with people around the world with a book," said principal Lisa Braithwaite. "My goal was to do it as a school. We started small."

Next year, she said, Suncoast might attempt to connect with other schools within the county or even go global, "depending on the comfort level of the teacher."

This year's elementary-level books were Eric Carle's Hello, Red Fox, Kate Messner's Marty McGuire and Sharon Draper's Out of My Mind.

The participating teachers used various means to dissect the stories with their students. Patrick Foley's fifth-grade students, for example, read Out of My Mind and discussed it.

Eleven-year-old Patrick Haas found the exercise useful.

"It's a good idea," he said. "It gives people (a way) to understand the book."

Lisa Mazzuco's fourth-graders visited Stephanie D'Anna's first-grade class. The older students helped the younger ones make caterpillars out of green and white cotton balls, talked to them about what caterpillars eat and helped them write paragraphs. The class also read Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

That activity worked right into one of Braithwaite's objectives: "to encourage them to read another book by the same author."

Heather Zielinski's third-graders read Marty McGuire.

Her students then blogged with other third-grade classes to get a dialog going about the story.

"Blogging is a good way to teach students that when they write, they are writing for an audience and it's empowering when their peers comment on what they're writing about," Zielinski said.

Ayden Ferguson, 8, enjoyed it.

"It's cool because you get to go on and you answer a question," Ayden said.

Marguerite King did a story survey between classes and had her third-graders analyze the data and graph it.

For fun, and a little science, they also had a scavenger hunt to find frogs. (Marty McGuire liked frogs.) Each frog had a little card of information with it.

Braithwaite's hope is that the project, over the years, will help expand students' horizons.

"Literature is so important," she said. "We need to introduce them to different genres and expose them to different vocabulary."

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