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Reading comes to life at WES

Jennifer Warhurst
For the FCT

West Elementary School is promoting reading by using a school-wide Hollywood theme and encouraging students and teachers to read books written by a “celebrity author” each month.
WES reading coach, Jennifer Warhurst, polled teachers and compiled a list of their favorite children’s book authors, and grants were written and awarded by Senator Roger Bedford
and Wal-Mart so that funding was made available to introduce a fun and motivating reading program for the students.
“Our goal with children at West Elementary School is to encourage them to read beyond the base level,” Warhurst said. “We want our students to be lifelong learners and readers. There is no better way to develop a love of reading than through the use of quality children’s literature.”
In a weekly contest called, “What Book Is It?,” a selection from a featured author’s book is read on the school’s intercom on Friday mornings. Students listen and guess the name of the book.
Four books, written by the monthly celebrity author, are given away to three students and one teacher each week.
In November, the celebrity author was Mr. Steve Metzger and on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, the second grade students received the privilege of participating in a Face Time session with Metzger who met with all second grade students via the Internet for a one-hour presentation that included reading four of his books: Pluto Visits Earth, The Great Turkey Race, The Amazing Turkey Rescue, and The Silly Turkey Party, while students followed along.
This Face Time session was a first for West Elementary students and for Metzger.
English Learning Instructor, LeJoy Winston, took the initiative to e-mail Metzger about an alternative school visit due to limited funding.
Metzger mentioned Face Time because his wife had used it and he said he would be glad to give it a try.
“The Face Time session with Mr. Metzger was a wonderful opportunity for our students to not only meet and talk with an accomplished author, but also to use technology in a fun and educational way,” Winston said.
“Since we live in the age of technology, it is of utmost importance to present students with numerous opportunities to use technology for learning and recreation.
“This Face Time session brought the author, Steve Metzger, to life. He was no longer just a name, but a person who was once a second grader and is now a successful author.
“It is my hope that this opportunity has given students a glimpse of what they can achieve with imagination, hard work, and determination. I am grateful to have had the opportunity of meeting Mr. Metzger and am hopeful that we have created a lasting partnership.”
“One of our goals at West Elementary is for the students to be exposed to the benefits of technology,” West Elementary Principal Dr. Chris James said.
“In this instance, the teachers did a great job finding unique ways of utilizing the technology available at the school.
“It is our hope, as a school, that these types of experiences will prepare our students for a technology-rich world.”
“As a teacher, the experience with Face Time opened up all kinds of ideas on how to incorporate this technology in the classroom,” second grade teacher Krista Burcham said.
“My husband has a job that requires a lot of travel over various parts of the United States and even overseas. Most of his travel involves the environment and often takes him to historical landmarks.
“It would be neat to hold a Face Time session with him when our class is studying topics related to his location.
“The more connections that students can make with life experiences, the more knowledge and understanding of concepts they will have.”

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