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Book Week Highlights TASIS Elementary Students' Passion for Reading
Posted 05/09/2017 04:25PM

2017 Book Week video created by Tim Venchus & Matthew Frazier-Smith

The TASIS Elementary School celebrated its second annual Book Week with a series of fun activities designed to build enthusiasm and promote reading during the week of May 1–5.

The week kicked off with a special assembly on Monday, in which Book Week coordinators Erin Fitzgerald (Literacy Coordinator and English Language Arts teacher) and Alyssa Uecker (Elementary Librarian) revealed this year’s Book Week posters (see examples here), built excitement for the week by discussing the upcoming events, and showed the top video trailers created by fifth graders. (All students in grade five made a trailer about a book they recommend, and a student vote determined the three that would be shown at the assembly.)

On Tuesday, each homeroom class created a collage based on students’ favorite books, characters, or authors.

Wednesday was Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R) Day. Students were encouraged to wear pajamas to school, and they all stopped what they were doing at 13:40 and gathered to spend 30 delightful minutes reading a book of their choice.

Thursday was What’s in your Pocket Day, in which both students and teachers selected a favorite poem, quote, drawing, or character and carried it in their pockets, sharing their selections with others throughout the day.

Friday was Dress Like a Definition Day. Students and teachers chose a word, phrase, or sentence and came to school dressed according to its meaning.

In addition, guest readers from the TASIS faculty and staff visited classrooms throughout the week and read books to students.

Ms. Fitzgerald, who is new to TASIS this year, was pleased with how the week went and looks forward to continuing the tradition next year.

“I thought it was fantastic,” she said. “It brought a lot of joy to reading and added a lot of excitement. The theme of the week was love, and our main goal was to celebrate books and the love of books. We want to create memories for kids that associate happiness with books.”

“The whole idea is just to create enthusiasm and promote reading, especially in this day and age where you have so many gadgets,” added Ms. Uecker. “We want to make sure students understand that books can offer just as much fun as video games.”

Ms. Uecker has run both the Focolare (Pre-Kindergarten through grade one) and Hadsall (grades 2–5) libraries since 2013, and she has observed an upward trend in students’ interest in reading.

“What I’ve begun to see is an overall increase in the desire to read,” she said. “In particular, the kids in the higher grades are reading much more interesting and difficult books than they were when I first started.”

“I see so much more love for reading and excitement around it this year than in previous years,” added Dr. Ilaria Peltier, who visits classrooms on a regular basis in her role as the Elementary School’s English as an Additional Language (EAL) Coordinator. “I’ve never seen kids so excited about in-class reading and writing and so engaged with the material.”

Ms. Uecker continues to expand the collections at each library, adding much greater variety and more high-interest fiction titles. Having more choices has motivated students to read more, and they rely upon Ms. Uecker for book recommendations. She also frequently sees students sharing books amongst themselves and suggesting titles to their friends.

“We’ve developed a true reading community,” said Ms. Fitzgerald.

“We want to create memories for kids that associate happiness with books.”
– Erin Fitzgerald

With two ever-growing libraries, a full-time librarian, an instructional book room with more than a thousand level readers, the addition of the Journeys Reading Series to the Language Arts Program, small-group and individualized reading instruction provided in the classroom on a daily basis, the establishment of Book Clubs in the higher Elementary School grades, two Usborne Book Fairs hosted on campus each year, visits from well-known children’s authors, and creative initiatives such as Book Week, TASIS has helped its Elementary School students, who come from all over the globe with vastly different English reading abilities, improve their reading at a rapid rate.

There is tangible evidence of this success. In January, students in grades 3–5 took the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test and produced very strong results on the Reading section, scoring well above the worldwide average for international schools in all three grades.

These tests are designed to measure the academic progress and growth for each student, and there was an impressive jump in scores from September—when students took the MAP test for the first time—to January.

“They’ll be taking the MAP test once again in May,” said Elementary Head Theresa Cullen Hill, “and we look forward to seeing more improvement and growth.”

More Book Week Photos

See a full gallery of 2017 Book Week photos here.

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