Reading comes to life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Fourth-grader Charlie Klingler has read “A Bad Case of the Stripes” before. But Wednesday was different because this time Ryan Schenk, a local physician assistant, was doing the reading.
“I like how he told the story with some authority and expression,” the Hanford Dole Elementary student said.
Schenk read the book via video to the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s nearly 20,000 students as part of a week-long reading initiative dubbed Reading Matters.
He was one of several community members who volunteered time to make reading come to life.
Gigi Apple, a fifth-grade teacher at Hanford Dole, said it’s important for students to see adults in other professions tout reading as a vital life skill.
“It helps to have more role models in the community,” she said.
Throughout Reading Matters week, which started Tuesday and runs through Monday, students will be exposed to a different book each day. After the reading is complete, students participate in a variety of activities designed by their teachers.
Crystal Ellis, a 21st century classroom teacher at Hanford Dole, said her fourth-grade class used iPods to blog about their favorite part of “A Bad Case of the Stripes” on Wednesday.
She said recording someone reading rather than having them come to the classroom is an innovative way to use technology.
“It’s bringing people from the community into the classroom and it’s doing it for all schools at one time instead of just having one person visit,” she said. “Kids are so tech savvy, it really appeals to them.”
Apple’s students did a vocabulary activity in which they had to identify antonyms.
“I’m trying to do something every day to go along with the books,” she said.
Fifth-grader Nya Coward said so far the week has been fun.
“It’s awesome that every morning we have a new story to talk about,” she said.
Apple said she’s been impressed by how her students have embraced the video storytelling.
“They are just starting to appreciate that reading is enjoyable,” she said. “I think this whole initiative is showing them that reading is a form of entertainment. It can be fun.”
Tamia Brown, a fifth grader, said like Charlie she’s already read “A Bad Case of the Stripes.”
“This is different than reading it to yourself over and over again,” she said. “It’s cool to see how people use expressions to read the book.”
Students in Robin Daye’s academically and intellectually gifted class acted out “A Bad Case of the Stripes” on Wednesday, creating their own costumes and practicing their lines.
“That was a lot of fun,” fourth-grader Naudia Carter said.
But Naudia and her classmates, Charlie and Hannah Branet, didn’t need any special activity to show them the joys of reading.
“I love to read, it’s like your imagination takes you on an adventure,” Hannah said.
And reading is Charlie’s favorite hobby.
“I like it because you can do it forever and it doesn’t cost you anything to open up a book,” he said.
Daye said she’s constantly pushing her students to develop a love for reading and Reading Matters week has helped solidify that message.
“We talked (Tuesday) in class about how you can’t do anything else in life unless you can read,” she said. “It’s a necessary skill for anything.”
Daye said the week has been a good way to reach out to students.
“Elementary students are such creatures of habit that differences are very exciting,” she said. “They have responded to it very well.”
During the week, students are being asked to dress up to go along with the theme of the book for that day. The first day they donned T-shirts with words on them. Wednesday was stripe day. Today, dressing as farmers will go along with “Mr. Duck Means Business.”
Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said literacy is one of the district’s primary focuses.
“The importance of reading cannot be measured,” she said in a press release. “It is a fundamental and basic skill that students must have to learn and to be successful in life.”
Grissom said she had been looking for creative ways to engage students in reading when the district’s media director, Kelly Feimster, suggested reading matters.
“I am excited and very impressed with the activities planned for the week,” Grissom said.
Reading Matters will wrap up with family nights at each of the district’s high schools.
Middle and high school teachers will work with elementary students at a variety of reading stations.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.