At North Mianus School, recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2019, teachers figured out clever ways to tie curriculum to Halloween.
First thing in the morning third grade teachers surprised their students by welcoming them to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, complete with giant lollipops and a massive mural created by local artist and parent Kyle Healy.
Lisa Giometti explained that students started off the year with an unit on reading comprehension strategies using Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
“It’s such a strong book, with such strong characters – and they’ve learned so much through the unit, we decided to celebrate Halloween using the literary characters,” explained Giometti, who took on the persona of Veruca Salt, complete with British accent.
With her were Elaina Weaver as Violet Beauregarde, Shirin Assarpour as Grandpa Joe and Crystal Kitselman as Willy Wonka.
“We launch all of our units through the theme of candy. Our chemistry unit is based on experiments with candy. We do math themes with candy, writing personal narratives with candy, and even studying the history of candy and inventions,” Giometti said.
“I had a student at the beginning of the year crying, when we did a pre-assessment, crying, saying, ‘I hate writing. I don’t write,'” Giometti recalled. “When we introduced the first experience with bubble gum where they realized they were going to chew bubble gum in school, blow bubbles and write about it. That child forgot all about the fact that she didn’t like writing. And she has not said a negative word since.”
“We just want them to love school,” said Crystal Kitselman. “We sent out a personal interest survey before school started to find out what they’re most interested in, and most of them said candy. So we went with that theme.”
Julie Cofone said each teacher represented a reading strategies based on a book Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kathleen Beers.
The book features six “text signposts” that alert readers to significant moments in a work of literature and encourages them to read closely.
Andrea Wragg was dressed as “Memory Moments,” Dee Bauer was an, “Aha moment,” Jackie Larson was dressed as “Contrast & Contradiction,” Megan Collins was dressed as “Words of the Wiser,” and Cofone portrayed “Tough Questions.”
The teachers say the strategies help the student with comprehension. Specifically the ability to identify important parts of the text, it analyze on a deeper level.
With “Words of the Wiser,” the text signpost is usually helping a character solve a problem. With contrast and contradiction, the character acts differently, often because the character has learned a lesson.
“We were actually proud that they figured out what each of our strategies were,” said Ms Cofone.