Submitted by Laura Donahue, Principal, Newport/Plymouth Elementary School and Co-Principal, Corinna Elementary School, RSU #19
One of the great things about being a part of the RSU 19 school district is the involved community that we are a part of. Getting to invite community members in to see the fantastic work that our students are immersed in every day is one of the ways that we can help celebrate our students’ success with the help of community members, creating memorable experiences for all. The first grade team at Newport/Plymouth Elementary School decided to move away from a traditional author’s share this year. Instead, they opened their classroom doors to community members to rotate through all of the first grade classrooms, listening to students read their stories as they sat at tables throughout the rooms. Those who attended were fortunate to hear many amazing narrative stories, and the students were proud to share their published work.
One Book, One School
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler
During the 2016/2017 school year, Newport/Plymouth Elementary School participated for the first time in doing One Book, One School. It was such a wildly successful and engaging endeavor that we have continued this activity each year. One Book, One School is an opportunity to generate a lot of excitement and engagement in literacy. Every teacher throughout the school reads aloud the same book to his/her class, ensuring that every student in the school has heard the book. The students then engage in discussions, activities and community activities related to the book. Each year we find ways to generate more and more excitement around the book we choose to read.
One of the activities that students seem to enjoy is our book reveal. A few giant posters of the book hang throughout the school, covered by giant puzzle pieces. Each day leading up to beginning the book, a piece of the puzzle is uncovered. Students can be seen in the hallway gathered around the posters making predictions based on the clues that have been uncovered as to what the book could be. The last piece of the puzzle is revealed at an assembly as the whole school counts down together to see if their predictions were correct. Last year we were fortunate enough to provide each student with a copy of the book we had chosen.
This year as the Newport/Plymouth Elementary School gets ready to consolidate with Corinna Elementary into the Sebasticook Valley Elementary School, we are planning many of these activities together. This year the book teachers selected is the classic, Stuart Little, by E.B White. Our culminating activity will be a joint Family Literacy Night held at Sebasticook Valley Middle School to provide students an opportunity to participate in fun literacy activities with their families that are related to the book. This will also facilitate a wonderful opportunity for students to participate in fun activities with some of the peers they will be consolidating with next year.
Fourth grade students across R.S.U. 19 engage in learning about Maine studies each year. At Newport/Plymouth Elementary School, the Maine Studies Project has each student collecting information about a Maine park from around the state. This research component helps teach our students how to successfully and appropriately navigate the internet for accurate information while allowing them the freedom to choose information they feel their peers and audience would find engaging. Fourth grader Emiley Rackliff commented, “I liked writing the script for my park because I got to look it up on Google and learn new things about the park.” Each student’s work is compiled into a unique virtual reality experience that includes video, sound and a 360° view of the park the student chose. Andrew Franklin, a fourth grade student we interviewed about the project, said, “I like building VR worlds and coding, it’s pretty fun. The 360 degree view of the park is going to be cool!.” Teachers have partnered up with Kern Kelley, our district technology integrator, to help teach students the technological skills necessary to complete such a detailed project. Once all the students have completed their projects, they will be available for the public to enjoy at bit.ly/maineparks.