BRIGHTON — Huddled in twos and threes on bean bag chairs and tucked under desks in teacher Jenny Ward’s reading classroom, Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School third-graders were immersed in the pages of books that ranged from “Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk” to “Let’s Explore Sharks.”
“They are reading for the pleasure of it, within their range of reading ability,” Ward said Jan. 28. “And we’re supporting the skills set by Florida Common Core standards.”
It was only day three of Literacy Week at PECS, but the weeklong learning extravaganza that focused on books and reading was measuring up to clear success, said the school’s reading specialist Vicki Paige.
Endorsed by the Florida Department of Education, Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida was held Jan. 26-30 under the theme “Reading Accelerates Success.” The annual event encourages Florida’s 2.6 million students to connect literacy with careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Educators refer to the collection of targeted disciplines as STEM courses.
At PECS, students and teachers tied literacy across the curriculum and to interests in the community.
The Books-A-Million store in Fort Myers sent representatives who included storybook characters to talk about how a bookstore works. Librarians from Billy Osceola Memorial Library visited classrooms to share news about future, fun reading programs.
Every classroom decorated doors in ways that inspired reading and writing from poetry to fantasy fiction. In culture class, teacher Jade Braswell Osceola read aloud from a book written in Creek.
Even the math teachers were on board the reading train. They taught “text marking” in word problems, Paige said.
“They went over key mathematics words that help students interpret the questions better,” Paige said, referring to vocabulary that include add, simplify, divide and sum.
Reading groups bookended the week.
Student Council members visited the Brighton Preschool on Jan. 26 and read to little ones, and the Safety Patrol popped into the Brighton Senior Center on Jan. 30 to read to seniors.
“We read the little kids the poem ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ and it was fun. But we also underlined repeating and rhyming words and we identified made up (pseudo) words – which are allowed in creative writing,” said fifth-grader Joss Youngblood.
On Jan. 28, Paige said the crowded cafeteria became hushed during a presentation by writer and underwater photographer Michael Patrick O’Neil, whose words and pictures have been published in National Geographic, The New York Times and his own children’s books.
“You could hear a pin drop. That’s how interested everyone was,” Paige said.
O’Neil, whose books include “Fishy Friends,” “Ocean Magic” and “Shark Encounters,” shared with the children that he was just a little boy when he told his grandmother that he wanted to someday have a job studying and writing about sharks.
“My main message is read, write, read more, write more and get involved in conservation,” O’Neil said.
Angelie Melton said her favorite part of Literacy Week was wearing wacky, no matching socks during Crazy Sock Day “so we could read our socks off.”