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Students ‘Schooled’ in reading

Sixth graders Sydney Dickinson, left, and McKenna Rivera pause for a photo during a competitive reading trivia activity covering “Schooled,” the novel North Whidbey Middle School students just finished reading together.  - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Sixth graders Sydney Dickinson, left, and McKenna Rivera pause for a photo during a competitive reading trivia activity covering “Schooled,” the novel North Whidbey Middle School students just finished reading together.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

For the past month, North Whidbey students have been getting schooled in reading by their administrators and teachers.

In order to get its sixth, seventh and eighth graders more excited about reading, North Whidbey Middle School staff started a school-wide reading program for the first time. Every day during seventh period, the entire school read “Schooled” by Gordon Korman. The period would start with either an administrator or staff member reading an excerpt from the book over the intercom while classes followed along, and the teachers would take over from there.

The school started the book during the first weeks of school and just wrapped it up on Thursday.

Eighth grader David Thompson said the activity made him focus better on his work.

“I know it helped me to listen to it from the intercom,” he said. “I really liked it.”

David’s classmate Alex Deshong agreed that the book made students more willing to participate in lessons.

“We would talk about the book and predict what would happen,” he said. “I think it got us all more engaged and made reading more fun.”

Alex said he enjoyed the plot of the novel and said it had more comedic twists than most middle school material. And though the book focused on an eighth grade student, it appealed to all grade levels.

Sixth grader Sydney Dickinson said the story was really funny and she liked hearing the different point of views of the administrators who read the chapters.

Sydney’s teacher, Erika Jenkins, said the reading program seemed to bring the students closer together and gave them a common experience to bond over in the beginning of the year. She hopes the program will continue for many falls to come.

“I would love for it to be our year kickoff,” Jenkins said. “We’re always trying to get the kids more involved with books.”

According to Jenkins, the book “Schooled” was suggested by another middle school teacher who had led successful discussions with it in the past. Jenkins said the book, which is a story about an eighth grader raised in a hippie commune, has strong lessons to teach about friendship and caring.

Jenkins said the administrators really got into reading the story aloud and would sometimes have several staff members serve as different characters creating the feel of an old time radio show.

“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” Jenkins said.

After falling below the state average in reading the past few years, Oak Harbor’s middle schoolers and special education students have recently maintained competitive scores.

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