by Arielle Gillman and Shari Ellmaker, 3rd Grade Teachers
Do you ever find yourself or your child(ren) stuck re-reading the same few books, over and over again?
This past winter, AC third-graders were tasked with completing a challenge to expand their reading stamina and book choice. Similar to the book tasting they did early on in the year (see “Expand the Menu to Enrich Your Child’s Reading”), students were exposed to six different genres of text: poetry, nonfiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, graphic novel, and biography. From here, the third-graders had about six weeks to read at least one book from each genre and complete a short form highlighting key details and their personal reflections about each book they read.
Right away, we noticed that students were motivated to get out of their comfort zone and try books that they have never considered before! Instead of reading the same old books from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series or rereading the entire Harry Potter saga for the umpteenth time, students branched out and read everything from biographies about Frederick Douglass, nonfiction articles about deep sea diving, poetry from Shel Silverstein, and classic fantasy novels such as Matilda. Each week during the Genre Reading Challenge, students kept track of their progress by filling out a bar graph and with more and more books being completed, motivation only kept growing.
Students completed the challenge right before break, with the whole class having read a total of 126 books! At this point, we told the class,”Congratulations, you’ve unlocked a surprise reward…you will find out about the reward soon, during the month of May!”
Fast forward to May 9th, the day of the reward. Parents were invited to secretly come in and read their child’s favorite book with them outside to celebrate the completion of their Genre Reading Challenge. We all managed to keep the surprise, and students were thoroughly shocked to see their family members at school in the middle of the school day. Outside, students enjoyed an impromptu reading session with their families in the warm spring breeze. As teachers, we were so happy to see the smiles on our students’ faces while they read and relaxed. What a rewarding way to celebrate reading!
Arielle GillmanAs the Lower School Learning Support Specialist, Arielle relishes the chance to work with each of AC's Nursery through Fifth grade students. Arielle's responsibilities include: providing coverage for teachers and collaboration during lessons, facilitating supplemental small group instruction, administering assessments, reflecting with colleagues about best practices, and assisting in the library. Besides teaching at AC as a Third Grade teacher for two years, Arielle brings experience from Mary Cariola Center, which serves students with disabilities, and several long-term substitute teaching roles in the Webster, Penfield, and Newark school districts. Arielle received her B.S.Ed in Childhood Education from SUNY Fredonia, and her M.S.Ed in Literacy Education from SUNY Geneseo.
Sharon EllmakerShari has been an educator for more than 30 years. During the academic school year, she teaches Lower School art and in the summer, she is a valued member of our AC Summer LEAP faculty. Shari brings with her experience teaching second, third, and fourth grade, in both the public school system and independent schools. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Bluffton University.