Bryan Middle School, part of the Francis Howell School District (FHSD), has one of the best learning commons in the area, and is always looking for ways to spark a love of learning. In March, the school’s learning commons held their annual Reading Extravaganza, a day that encourages better reading comprehension and analysis, all while making it fun.
“This is a unit of study I created in 2011 for our Read 180 students,” said Margie Wayman, Bryan Middle’s media specialist. It’s another example of how Wayman and other learning commons staff members are creating lifelong learners. “The students check out one of next year's state award-nominated books (before any other students are able to do so), and keep a reading journal over the next six weeks as they complete the book. The kids follow a reading calendar, reading roughly ten pages each day. This allows for deep reading, which results in better comprehension and also paces their reading over the six week unit.”
Meanwhile, a staff member from Bryan reads one of the 12 nominated titles, and then meets for a book discussion with the kids. Having a discussion not only further reinforces their reading comprehension, but it also gives them a chance to express themselves and their critical thoughts about the title in a collaborative format. Wayman said, “We have 12 book discussions going on throughout the learning commons, and it is a lot of fun! Our adult readers enjoy the opportunity to discuss a novel with kids who have also read it. The kids love the opportunity to share their thoughts about their book with a principal, counselor, teacher, or support staff member.”
Guest speakers – including authors – come by as well, giving students an outside perspective. This year was a bookstore owner. Wayman explained, “Emily Hall was our guest speaker and she did a phenomenal job! It was not lost on the kids that she is a former Bryan Middle student and FHSD graduate (whose mom teaches at Saeger Middle). Because Emily is young, and very successful as the owner of Main Street Books, our students could see themselves as possible business owners and/or entrepreneurs. She was funny (showing pictures of herself in middle school!) and passionate as she spoke. Emily conveyed how important books have always been in her life and challenged the kids to continue to read.”
The Reading Extravaganza is a unique way to accomplish the goal of every learning commons or library – to ignite a love of learning, especially reading. “Keeping our students reading is important at every level,” Wayman said. “We know that as students progress as readers, their comprehension increases dramatically. Reading skills are applicable to every curricular area, and so being a successful reader contributes to success throughout the academic experience.”
Read on Bryan, read on!