An Advocate for Literacy and Lifelong Learning
By Pam Artis, Rockingham County Reading Association and NC Reading Association
Receiving the message that I would receive a $1000 scholarship from the North Carolina Reading Association was a wonderful surprise. This scholarship will reduce some of the financial stress involved with my graduate studies at UNCG. To learn more about the Scholarship available to members of the local and/or state reading associations, visit NCRA’s website: http://www.ncreading.org/awards-and-grants/ncra/
Belonging to the Rockingham County Reading Association has allowed me to share my love for reading and writing with children in my classes, school, and county. Reading remains the most essential skill in all content areas. The best math student needs to know how to read and comprehend in order to solve problems. Reading also plays an important role in science, social studies, music, art, and PE.
As a Media Specialist, I am able to motivate students to read by creating lessons, units, and projects that will stimulate their curiosity. Recently the third graders took part in a “Flat Stanley Project,” which involved their sending flat versions of themselves around the nation and tracking their progress (www.flatstanley.com/about). Now that the flat friends are starting to return, students are beginning to understand how reading can take us places. One “Flat Friend” visited President Obama. In his letter to the students about our friend’s visit, he emphasized how reading plays a big role in his job as President. He encouraged the students to keep their curiosity as they strive to become lifelong learners. I hope his words will remain with the students and inspire them to be lifelong learners.
One of the challenges as a media specialist is differentiating lessons and projects for each grade level and skill level. Helping kindergarten students create an ABC book about animals turned out to be more fun than I thought. I wanted to reinforce letter recognition and letter sounds, so I read a couple of ABC books to them. As we made a list of animals, I stressed the beginning sounds of each animal that they suggested. The students corrected each other. While I helped four students at a time type a sentence about an animal, the other students played letter-matching games (capital and lower case letters). Following a suggestion made by another media specialist, I wrote the sentence in all caps for each kindergartener. That made it easier for them, since they are still working on recognizing capital and lower case letters.
Some of the duties as media specialist involve serving as the webmaster, monitoring the reading program (Accelerated Reader), and publishing a newsletter. Students became involved with the publication of the newsletter. I feel as if students will be more likely to read something that is written by their peers rather than by adults. Writing for the newsletter will also improve their writing skills. As a teacher and media specialist, I have always believed that students should be able to apply what they learn to real world situations. By writing a newsletter, students are writing for an audience, not for a grade.
I have been a member of the Rockingham County Reading Association (RCRA) for so long that I cannot remember when I first became a member. To find out about RCRA, visit https://www.facebook.com/rockinghamcounty.readingassociation) .
I became a school representative in 2007. RCRA (provides valuable programs/meetings every 2-3 months, but my favorite event is the Catch the Reading Bug Community Reading Festival. Over the past seven years, the festival has grown. About four years ago, I saw that a few schools had activity tables. I knew that my Student Book Club would love to offer an activity table. For two years our Book Club did an awesome job helping the participants make “journals” that were inspired by Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and bookmarks that were inspired by the art of Eric Carle. The students helped with planning, fundraising, gathering supplies, and making samples. During the festival, the students worked in shifts, so they were able to visit other activity tables. When scheduling changes ended the Student Book Club, teacher volunteers took over and now help at the school’s activity table.
My ultimate goal is to inspire children to love reading and provide them with materials that satisfy their love for reading. Inspiration might come in the form of a dramatic or interactive reading of a picture book. It could also come in the form of a question which makes the students want to research to find the answer.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” — Margaret Fuller