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Herriman Journal

Wacky antics encourage a love of reading

Mar 30, 2023 02:06PM ● By Jet Burnham

Cream pies, what a prize! Rocky Peak Elementary students met a school literacy goal and were rewarded with the opportunity to throw pies into teachers’ and administrators’ faces. (Photo courtesy of Ami Anderson)

A student wore socks in her hair and a principal kissed a goat—it was a wacky month at elementary schools celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day with themed dress-up days, family literacy activities, reading challenges and read-a-thons.

“There's got to be times where you're picking apart your reading and working and teaching them the skills, and then there's other times you just have to put that all away and just have fun with reading,” Copper Canyon Elementary third grade teacher Christina Corbett said.

For Copper Canyon Elementary’s read-a-thon, students came dressed in their PJs, with blankets, pillows and treats.

Third-grader Maelee said it was fun reading with her friends nearby so they could talk about what they were reading. Students earned raffle tickets for reading silently, and at the end of the day, 150 winners received a new book.

Melissa Lowry’s first grade class at Silvercrest Elementary celebrated with Dr. Seuss themed activities including eating green eggs.

As a virtual school, Rocky Peak Elementary staff members got creative to ensure their students had the same fun, unifying experiences as traditional elementary school students.

“We just try to do as much interaction and engagement as we possibly can, since it is virtual,” Rocky Peak Elementary Vice Principal Ami Anderson said. “Our goal is to reach those kids personally and educationally.”

Rocky Peak Elementary teachers made Read Across America Day special for their students with an online read-a-thon, book reviews, a readers’ theater, and a Read Across America dance party, which students participated in virtually. Literacy Specialist Ruthanne Ballard created a virtual Dr. Seuss library in which students could access videos of Dr. Seuss stories being read, learn more about the author and try some Seuss-inspired drawing activities.

All Jordan School District elementary schools teach literacy with the Walk to Read literacy program, which teaches specific reading skills through daily intervention groups. Ballard said virtual interventions look different than in-person lessons.

“We were given a great program, but it was a paper program,” Ballard said. “And so Ami put hours and hours and hours into making this paper version a digital version.” Instead of filling out a printed worksheet, virtual students use their computer mouse to sort words and underline patterns. They watch entertaining videos that reinforce reading skills. 

Rocky Peak Elementary’s fun-loving administrators also get involved in the interventions and literacy activities.

“It's a school effort so the kids know how important reading is,” Ballard said.

When they noticed low attendance in the daily 40 minute literacy intervention sessions, the administrators implemented an incentive program for students—improve attendance and you can throw cream pies at your teachers and administrators.

The incentive was successful—the fifth-sixth grade group attendance increased from 68% to 89%—and many students showed up to the pie-throwing activity in March.

“They were so excited to throw a pie in Mr. Menlove’s face,” Ballard said.

Rocky Peak students will continue to earn rewards for participating in literacy interventions. As they collectively reach certain benchmarks, they earn rewards such as watching their teacher eat a bug or having ice water poured on their head. Last month, students earned the reward of seeing Principal Ross Menlove kiss a goat. For the final reward of this challenge, students will watch school administrators get slimed.

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