December 15, 2011: Reading Spells FUN at Connaught.
Reading Spells FUN at Connaught.
By Sheila Holmes, Connaught parent and Beatrice Johnston, Core French teacher and Stop, Drop and Read Co-ordinator.
Twice a year at Connaught Public School, students can be seen walking around all day with books in their hands, ready to “Stop, Drop and Read.” They always have a book on hand because once a day – they never know when – music will start playing over the school speakers and the students will stop – right where they are, whatever they were doing – drop to the floor, and start reading. In the classroom, the gym or the schoolyard.
Beatrice Johnston, one of Connaught’s Core French teachers, who co-ordinates the program, added a new twist a few years ago. She has created what she calls a “big mystery book” which is displayed in the school entrance. On the left page is an extract from a book at the level of the primary students (up to Grade 3), and on the right side an extract from a book the junior students (Grade 4 to 6) might recognize. Whatever their age group, the students read the text and guess the title and author of the book and drop their answer in a ballot box. At the end of the week, a winner from both groups is announced. For this year’s first “Stop, Drop and Read,” during the first week of November, Grade 3 student Cohen correctly guessed that the story with the magic mirror was Snow White, and Mateo in Grade 5 identified the passage from Harry Potter.
This reading awareness week at Connaught, called “Stop, Drop and Read,” is intended to demonstrate to students that reading isn’t just a skill you learn at school, or a way to learn another subject, like science or social studies; reading can be done simply for enjoyment. With a focus on literacy teachers often use reading logs, or have their students do writing to predict what will happen next in the book, or reflect on what they liked about the book – or do good old-fashioned book reports. Other teachers do book talks, or literacy circles. But all include some component of independent reading.
During “Stop, Drop and Read” students can read whatever they want – and they will not be tested on it. Educators call this silent sustained seading, but the kids just call it f-u-n.
How do you know if a book is the right level for your child? Teach your child the 5-Finger Test. Have them hold up all five fingers on one hand and have them read any page from their book. Every time they find a word that they don’t know, or is hard to read, they lower one of their fingers. If they see that all five fingers are down when they get to the end of the page, they know that they should probably choose another book that is not as difficult.
Photo Caption: Contest winners of this year’s first Drop, Stop and Read, with their book prizes: Grade 3 student Cohen (left) who correctly guessed that the story with the magic mirror was Snow White and Mateo in Grade 5 who identified the passage from Harry Potter. Photo by Beatrice Johnston.