Fall River’s hallways were filled with a taller group of students this week as Sunset Middle School eighth graders paid a visit to their younger peers to read and deliver handmade books as the culmination of their language arts unit.
At the start of the school year, eighth grade language arts teacher, Tanya Gaurmer, met and interviewed kindergarten students at Fall River Elementary and Burlington Elementary to learn more about their interests. She then assigned each of her eighth grade students to write a children’s book for each individual kindergarten student. The eighth grade language arts course unit carried the themes of imagining a hopeful future, as well as writing for a specific audience. The authors were tasked with weaving a message of hope and catering their books to the interests of their assigned kindergartener.
Ms. Guarmer emphasized how important it is for the eighth graders to understand the meaning of an authentic audience and how they can transfer understanding audiences into real world-experiences. Partnering students across different grade levels expands everyone’s viewpoint. For the eighth graders, she notes, “It’s important for them to see themselves as role models and how they can work within their community.
When the eighth graders arrived at Fall River’s kindergarten classroom, they waited for their assigned student’s name to be called. As the students paired up in different areas of the room, laughter and smiles could be seen in every corner of the space.
Eighth grade student, Audrey Robinson, wrote her book about a grumpy fox who increasingly becomes kind as others are kind to him. Audrey’s favorite part of the experience was reading to the students. “It’s so fun to talk to the kids. They are so nice,” she said. “It’s fun to share what you’ve done and see that they are excited to hear from you.”
August Kiefer’s book starred a hippo with magical powers. He enjoyed watching the reaction of his audience as he was reading to them. He said, “I like seeing their faces light up on certain funny parts or when something interests them.”
After pairing up with their assigned student for a reading, kindergarteners were encouraged to choose another eighth grade student to read to them.
Fall River kindergarten teacher, Julie Butrick, shared that the experience was very rewarding for her students as they are working on improving spelling and sounding out words in class. “It gives them inspiration to see what they can do as writers,” said Mrs. Butrick.
After the readings concluded, Mrs. Butrick asked the students what they noticed about their older peers’ writing.
Kindergartener, Addie, raised her hand to respond, “They didn’t write their letters backwards.”