The school that reads together; learns together. That’s certainly the case with Sioux Trail Elementary School in Burnsville with its project called “Sioux Trail Reads: One School, One Book.” The same book will be read and then discussed by students, parents and staff members.
“It’s a way to build community while developing literacy,” said Principal Shannon McParland. “We are embracing the family literacy model with a goal of surrounding our kids with literacy.”
McParland said that data shows the family literacy model increases vocabulary and reading scores. “Most of all, the project was chosen to have fun while reading!,” she adds.
Over spring break, students, parents and staff members will be reading “The World According to Humphrey” by Betty G. Birney. It’s about a hamster named Humphrey who is purchased for the classroom by a teacher because students will “learn a lot by taking care of another species.” Humphrey ends up teaching many lessons during his stay in Room 26.
Sioux Trail's student PRIDE Patrol Leaders unpacked, labeled and organized the books so they were ready to be distributed on March 21. The labels acknowledge the grant from Foundation 191 that provided funding to purchase the books and also let families know the books are theirs to keep.
To kick off the Sioux Trail project, a schoolwide scavenger hunt took place with students looking for 20 images of Humphrey hidden around the building. Then they heard about receiving their own books at an all-school assembly on March 18.
“We matched younger students with older students to read the first two chapters of the book together,” said Sharron Stalock, enrichment teacher. “We wanted to get students hooked on the book before we sent them home over spring break to share the book and read with their families!”
Denise Engberg, media educational assistant, understands the importance of making books accessible to students. “This is the third book we have read together as a whole school this year. The first two we accessed through an online library called myON,” she said. “This time we are fortunate enough to have a paper book for every family.”
After each reading event, students, families and staff members participated in an online discussion using Google Classroom and responded to a variety of questions about the reading. One 5th grade student said, “It was cool to answer questions and also see what everyone else was saying.”
McParland said “Sioux Trail Reads: One School, One Book” has been a great success so it will be repeated next year.