Ecker Hill teachers bring books to life |

Ecker Hill teachers bring books to life

Douglas Greenwood, Of the Record Staff

As part of One Book, One School, students and teachers at Ecker Hill International Middle School spent most of January and February reading the same novel. Beginning right after the winter break, each first-period core classroom, spent about 20 minutes each day reading "Peter Pan" by J. M. Barrie.

Principal Traci Evans encouraged teachers to read the book out loud to students. Some teachers accessed the free audio book available through iTunesU, the academic channel of the online music store.

"It’s been a nice, unifying project for our school," Ecker Hill special education teacher Lara Rude said, "something to bring our kids, our teachers and staff together."

This year marked the second time the entire faculty and student body participated in the program. Students read "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll last year.

The program has put a focus on well-known children’s literature because of the familiarity many students have with the general stories, seventh-grade English teacher Liz Thompson said. Even though many students and some teachers faced a challenge in reading "Peter Pan" this year, most students followed through strongly because their interest came from a background in the story, Thompson added.

Both books chosen for the program are listed on the College-Bound Reading List, which consists of recommended literature for young students who plan to attend college. Many of the books on the list will challenge young readers, but are not too mature for them, Rude said.

In addition to reading the novel together, a number of teachers dressed up as characters from the story. Peter Pan, Captain Hook, the Crocodile and Tinkerbell visited the classrooms throughout the program. Toward the end of the reading, students also dressed up as their favorite character during a spirit-day celebration, Thompson said.

The One Book, One School program culminated in the National Read Across America Day Wednesday, March 2. Posters featuring building administrators, teachers, custodians and cafeteria employees holding their favorite books now line the walls throughout the school, according to seventh-grade English teacher Emily Sutherland.

"Everyone in the building has a poster with their favorite young-adult book," Sutherland said. "We are hoping that it sparks conversation between faculty and staff."

Rude, who also works in the library, said it has already motivated students to check out a number of new books. A number of teachers give a short book review as part of the morning announcements each day as well to help students find new books and a further interest in reading.

"We are planning on doing a survey with students to get their feedback and see if our intentions worked," Rude said. "We just gave a survey to faculty and it was very positive, so we are planning on continuing it next year."

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