Program to include reading, presenting, and reporting on historical individuals

Educator Name: Dana Poepsel
School Name: St. Rita's Parish School

I want to create life-long readers who enjoy literature as an educator, past-time and friend long after they have left the classroom. I don't believe this is best done by mandating WHAT is read. I want my students to be excited about their novels and read from 8-10 different genres during the school year instead of the 2-3 class novels. To enhance what they are reading, I will focus on discovering people that have made a difference. My 6th graders will then create a living wax museum where they will present an individual who has made a difference. This might be anyone from Joan of Arc to Walt Disney. Students will dress as their "statue" and be able to talk about who they represent and what impact they've had on the world. My 7th graders will use computers to create a multi-media presentation on the individual they each selected to study and who made a difference in the world around them. My 8th graders will create a living history project using multi-media to interview individual people in their lives who have lived through a researched time in history (9/11, Challenger explosion, JFK death, etc), and create a historical, yet personal, account for our school library.

It is my hope students will see that books can be/should be interesting to them. And, that they can take what they learn in novels and apply it to their own lives. What did this person do to affect my world or my life? How did this event impact the world? The program will also expand reading from 2-3 novels, to more than 20 novels during the year. I feel so strongly that reading is the key to success, that I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and give up valuable teaching time daily so students can get hooked on reading.

Research has shown for decades that reading expands our knowledge in multiple areas: vocabulary, oral communication, spelling, writing, comprehension, creativity, inquisition about what is happening around us. The hard part is competing with texting, FaceBook, XBox, and Wii. By creating an environment where reading is encouraged AND where students can read what they want, it is my hope students will read more and begin to enjoy the process outside the classroom as well. I also want the culminating project to be a memorable experience for students; to get them excited about what they can learn, and challenge them creatively to bring these stories to life.