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Paperjack students gearing up for Read Across America Day

Paperjack Elementary second graders (from left) Blake Schulz, Mason Alvermann, Elizabeth Edgerton, and Alea Albert are pictured with Title I - Reading teacher Vanessa Thompson and the two books they will be focusing on for Read Across America Day. Jordan Willi / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
As part of the school's reading program Paperjack Elementary staff use one of the windows in the library to share some of their recommendations for books the students should read. Jordan Willi / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Every year on Dr. Seuss' birthday, March 2, students across the country participate in Read Across America Day, including at Paperjack Elementary.

"The whole idea is so positive and there is so much research behind that when you create positive experiences with reading and literacy, kids are going to attach that to positive feelings and success. The more we can promote that for all kids to feel that success with reading is going to help them grow as readers and gravitate towards reading," said Title I - Reading teacher Vanessa Thompson. "Research also shows that the more wide variety of reading that kids do, the more successful they become as readers."

Reading is a main focus of the New Richmond School District, but combining reading with a project, as well as connecting it with other students throughout the building, makes Read Across America Day, and the lead up to the event, that much more fun for students.

"Even though we do this every year, we switch up the book and the focus. One of the central things we do every year, is to get all of the kids to read the same book," Thompson said. "Every classroom gets one of the books we are featuring, and then around mid-January/February, the teacher will read it to their class and then each grade does a project pertaining to the book. Those projects are then displayed in the hallway, with students taking part in a 'gallery walk' to see what everyone else has done."

Last year, the students read "I Need My Monster," and they read the sequel "Hey, That's My Monster" this year.

"It is really cool to do that kind of project because then every student knows the same book. It is cool to get them all talking about the same book, and it is a good way to build the reading community across the school," Thompson said.

Read Across America Day is just one day at the beginning of March, but Paperjack uses the event as a kickoff for further reading activities the rest of the month, such as the reading tic-tac-toe board. It features different tasks, such as read a book with a number in the title or read a book that is written and illustrated by the same person.

"As the class completes a tic-tac-toe, they get a small reading reward, like a bookmark or something like that," Thompson said. "The kindergarten through second grade students work together to complete the tasks, while the third through fifth graders do the tic-tac-toe board on their own. We use the same board to create the community, but we use different scaffolds for different grades.

Another way students can take part in Read Across America Day is for third through fifth graders to participate in the "Read the Most From Coast to Coast" event, which tracks how many books they can read in one day. Teachers give their students little pockets of time to read that day.

In addition to students reading, Paperjack also gets its teachers and staff in on it.

"On Read Across America Day, Mr. Ballard reads a book, which will be a Dr. Seuss book. Previously, we have just done it over the loudspeaker, but this year, we are going to do it as a Google Hangout. So the kids will be able to see him reading his book, which will be pretty cool since it will feel like he is just reading it to their class," Thompson said.

Throughout the whole school year, the Paperjack Elementary library will feature a wall of book recommendations from teachers.

"Something we have been doing all year is putting teachers' names up in the library along with their recommendations for a picture book and a chapter book. That is fun for kids to go back and see what their old teachers recommend, which creates a cool connection," Thompson said.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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