Jenna RehmMrs. CorbettSenior ProjectApril 9, 2012 Senior Project Speech When I was a young child, I always wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Ihad always vowed to make my lessons full of fun activities with no reading, since thatwas my least favorite subject. As I grew up I quickly found out that reading at a youngage was very important in order to strengthen education later on in life. Had I read moreas a child, I believe that my vocabulary and literacy skills would have been much bettertoday. Looking back at peers of mine who read more than me at an early age, I can easilynotice a difference in their strong literacy skills today versus mine. With this experiencein mind, I put together a reading program at Macedonia Elementary for my senior project.I called it “For the Love of Reading” and I used the program to promote and foster thelove of reading and its importance to many primary grade-level students. This programwas made up of nine meetings held throughout October, November, and December of2011. For the program to be successful, I knew it had to be research based. Therefore, Iresearched early childhood literacy and its importance to get the necessary information Iwould need for my project. I wanted to find a clear connection between young studentsreading and the instructional level of their classes later on in their schooling career.Through research, I found students that frequently read at a young age, were placed in thehigher-level classes at an older age. The impact of minimal reading on students hasbecome a major issue in the teaching career field as evidenced in all the researchavailable. My research found that as a result, many schools have programs to increasereading in the classroom and even at home. The AASL (American Association of SchoolLibrarians) sets goals relevant to the needs of individual schools in America in order topromote reading as a necessity. Schools are beginning to do what they can to keepreading at a maximum for their students by promoting programs such as “Every ChildReady to Read @ Your Library”, which has been recently set up around America. I chosethis topic because I love working with young children and because I wanted to make a
difference in their lives. I knew that by promoting reading and its importance, my goalwould be reached. Researching this topic helped me to realize just how much work Ineeded to put into my literacy program to make it effective for each and every student. Creating my product was a very thought provoking process. It was difficult for meto figure out just how I wanted to spread a love of reading to a group of elementarychildren. I would not have been able to do it without the help from my effective projectfacilitator. I was looking for someone who was patient, creative, and highly educated inworking with young students. I wanted my project facilitator to be heavily involved withchildren specifically in her workplace. I personally knew the media specialist at a nearbyelementary school, Macedonia Elementary, and I contacted her about helping me reachmy goal for my senior project. I also knew she had an extensive background in literacyand young readers. Without a doubt, Mrs. Jennifer Rice was an easy choice for me. Shegraduated in 1997 from Georgia College and State University with a Specialist Degree inEarly Childhood Education. Mrs. Rice taught kindergarten for two years, and third gradefor sixteen years. This is her first year as a media specialist. She is currently working onher Library Media add-on for her certification, although she has already passed theGACE test for library media. With all this in mind, I knew Mrs. Rice had greatexperience with young readers and this made her the perfect candidate for me. There were many steps involved in the process to create my product. Myfacilitator and I frequently emailed back and forth trying to figure out when and where tomeet. After setting a schedule, we met many times before I began conducting themeetings with the elementary students. I had a hard time meeting with her because of myschool schedule and work, but on the days I had off I would find time to go to her houseand discuss what I wanted to do. During our first meeting, we established the place,times, and dates for each meeting. We planned on the first three Tuesdays of October,November, and December. Since I did not get out of school until 3:30pm, we agreed thatit was best for me to meet with the afterschool program students from 4-5pm. We alsodecided that I would read to the 4th and 5th graders every first Tuesday, the 2nd and 3rdgraders every second Tuesday, and the kindergarten and 1st graders every third Tuesdayof the month. Another one of our meetings took place in the library at Macedonia. There,we discussed which books I could read to the young students. I had to carefully choose
which books to read because I would read a different level to the three different groups.When choosing my books, I also tried to make choices appropriate to the season in whichI would be reading them. (Pause here to show the books I brought in as a visual.) Aftercoming up with all nine of these children books, I was able to check them out and preparefor my meetings. Soon after reading through each book, I met again with Mrs. Rice tocome up with a craft and food activity to go along with each book. These activities werewhat proved to the students that reading really can be fun. I knew that by incorporatingenjoyable crafts and snacks along with the stories, these children would leave with astrong interest in making reading fun. Each meeting was based on a specific children’sbook that was read at the beginning of each lesson. (Explain these next few sentenceswhile showing the scrapbook of pictures and examples of the arts and crafts.) In October,I read Too Many Pumpkins to the 4th and 5th graders. We made bookmarks and mini-pumpkin pies to go along with the story. The following Tuesday, I read Franklin’sHalloween to the 2nd and 3rd graders. After reading, I helped them make Halloweenmasks and monster smiles. Next, I read The Hallo-Weiner to the kindergarten and 1stgraders and we made bookmarks and decorated dog-bone shaped cookies. In November, Iread Two Bad Ants to the 4th and 5th graders. Afterwards, we made ants on a log and theydid a scavenger hunt around the library. For the 2nd and 3rd graders, I read Arthur’sThanksgiving and we made AR Turkeys and mini pumpkin pies. Finally, for thekindergarten and 1st graders I read Happy Thanksgiving, Curious George and I helpedthem decorate Turkeys and make mini pumpkin pies. Last but not least came December.For the 4th and 5th graders, I read The Mitten. Together, we knitted felt mittens and madetrail mix. Next, I read Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the 2nd and 3rd graders. Theydecorated stockings and created reindeer themed cupcakes. Finally, I read TheGingerbread Man to the kindergarten and 1st graders. We all decorated gingerbreadcookies and made our own gingerbread men out of construction paper. (Pause here togive each judge a sample of three different food activities.) Through all these activities, Iknew I would be able to get through to the students about how important reading is. Itwas a joy to see them come into the library every Tuesday excited to see what I hadplanned for them. I could easily tell that they loved the effort I put into showing them
how important reading is. Hearing them talk about how excited they were for the nexttime we would meet was one of the most rewarding parts of this project. Although these meetings were a lot of fun, there were a few problems Iencountered. One main issue was peanut allergies. A lot of the 2nd and 3rd graders seemedto have severe allergies to peanuts. When bringing in food, I had to make sure nothingcontained peanuts. When one of my activities did contain peanuts, I had to make a fewstudents sit outside the room while the rest made their snacks. Because this arrangementwas not a good experience for everyone, I made sure none of my other activitiescontained this food. Another problem I encountered was keeping the children focused.Since they had already been in school all day and were with me as part of their afterschool program, the last thing they wanted to do was pay attention. With the help of myfacilitator, she was easily able to get them focused, as this skill was part of her everydayjob. I had to learn from her the technique of keeping them quiet for long enough to payattention to direction. One more problem I encountered was a furlough day that wasplaced on a Tuesday that I was supposed to hold a meeting on. Since we did not haveschool that day, I made the decision to move the meeting to that Thursday and I contactedthe school to let the parents of students in after school program know. All in all, theseobstacles were very easy to overcome and did not put a huge damper on my product. In conclusion, I believe that producing reading meetings for the students atMacedonia was an important and successful product. I finally reached my goal of helpingthese young students understand the importance of reading in their lives. I have learnedthat I have strong work habits when I’m interested in the task at hand. My habitsremained positive throughout the entire project as I continued to work on it throughoutthe year. I continued to keep my dates organized as well as the activities that I wouldneed to prepare for each week. Also, I gained stronger communication skills through thisproject. I successfully made flyers for all the parents at Macedonia that contained who,what, where, and why. (Pause to show the flyer.) I also learned to communicate throughemail with my facilitator and those at the elementary school who I needed to contact.Although I loved this senior project, I do not think I could ever be a teacher or librarian. Ihad the patience I needed for the short time that I was with the children, but trying tokeep them entertained all day, everyday would definitely be a struggle for me. For my
post-secondary education, I will attend The University Of Georgia. I am not sure what Iwill be majoring in yet, but I believe I would be highly suited for a job promotingsomething that I strongly believe in. I feel like I would enjoy non-profit work or publicaffairs, because when I set a goal, I do not stop until it is achieved. Now, I will leave you with one question: what would your life have been like ifyou had not started reading until after elementary school? Thank you so much for yourtime. Are there any questions?