Learning, having fun

The Summer School Reading Academy’s mission at Totaro Elementary School is to create an environment that promotes literacy, and for students to identify, understand, interpret, create, and communicate effectively by developing an appreciation for reading and having meaningful engagements with one another. The Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) system is used for kindergarten to 2nd grade students as well as some students in Grade 3. Leveled Literacy Intervention provides daily, intensive, small-group instruction for students with the goal of increasing literacy skills.  Teachers develop lessons that transforms a traditional classroom into an engaging, enriching, and exciting one for students as they read various books during the instructional day.  The culminating activity each day is “Camp Read Aloud” where guests are invited to read portions of the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The amphitheater at Totaro has been transformed into a barn depicting the setting for Charlotte’s Web.  Students are prompt to answer questions pertaining to each chapter utilizing phonics, vocabulary words, context clues, and recall.

A group of third grade students is engaged in the book Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures 2. The Great Egyptian Grave Robbery by Jeff Brown.  There’s no place on earth a flat kid can’t go, and these students are learning just that with this book.  They made “flat Stanleys” and mailed them to members of the Brunswick County School Board and Dr. Kristy Somerville-Midgette, Superintendent, and her administrative team.  They were asked to take a picture of their “flat Stanley” somewhere unique and mail it back to the students.  Flat Stanley has already served as an honorary BCPS School Board Member and visited the Brunswick Board of Supervisors as well. The students are anxiously awaiting to see just where Flat Stanley will end up! 

Fourth grade students are reading the graphics novel El Deafo by Cecilia Carolina (CeCe) Bell, an American author and illustrator born in Richmond, Virginia.  They are making connections- text to self, text to text, and text to the world- as they read this graphic novel about CeCe Bell growing up deaf. They are learning how it feels being a deaf person. The goal for this book, according to its author, is for people who to do not have a hearing problem to have a better understanding of how to communicate with deaf people.  Therefore, students are not only discussing literary elements of El Deafo, but also mastering the American Sign Language Alphabet and hand signs to the song "The Yellow Submarine'' which was the last song CeCe Bell heard before losing her hearing at 4 years old. Finally, students are becoming “change agents” by collecting change daily with the proceeds being donated to the American Society for Deaf Children. 

Fifth grade students are reading the novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book is about a fifth grader name August Pullman, also known as Auggie, who was born with a facial deformity. This deformity has been his challenge from the beginning of his life in all sorts of ways. When students meet Auggie through their reading, he is starting school for the first time in fifth grade. He is extremely insecure and dreads being in public. He especially hates being around kids because he is never viewed as an ordinary kid. After experiencing Auggie’s fifth grade year with him, students will hopefully learn lessons about life, friendship, relationship, integrity, advocacy, judgement, and of course kindness, all while building reading comprehension skills. Although the book Wonder is fiction, it is based on the very realistic fact that everyone has challenges to face and overcome. Students have wonderful discussions pertaining to the book, and they understand the importance of showing empathy, always caring, and choosing to be kind to everyone. The Totaro Summer Reading Academy is led under the direction of Dr. Terence Wyche, Principal and Ms. Darlene Brown, Dean of Students.