Drawings and journals add meaning to school exchange
Article from:The Beacon News - Aurora (IL) Article date:March 24, 2006Author:By Tim Waldorf More results for:jeanine nicarico Literacy
Second-grade students at Prairie Elementary School in Naperville in the Indian Prairie School District make friendship beads with visiting second-graders from Bardwell Elementary School in the East Aurora School District Friday morning in a program called Literacy Expeditions: Building Bridges to Bardwell School and Back Again. Pictured from left are students Tottiyanna Brandon from Bardwell and Alex Monahan and Mattie Bean from Prairie.
NAPERVILLE - Second- graders Sami Workman and Alegra Chavez grabbed a poetry book, The Frog Wore Red Suspenders, and took turns reading stanzas from a poem called Winnie Appleton. Winnie, it seems, was having trouble with her ball. "It kept on bouncing and bouncing, and she couldn't catch it," Alegra said as she and Sami drew the picture of Winnie chasing her bouncing ball down the street.
On the other side of the classroom, Cynthia Jimenez and Rachel Anderson took turns writing in their journal. They were jotting down what they thought of a funny book titled How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food.
"I think it is gross," wrote Cynthia.
Rachel finished the sentence: "because the Dinosaur sticks beans up his nose."
And throughout the classroom wandered Pat Nicarico, mother of Jeanine Nicarico who, at the age of 10, was taken from her home and murdered in 1983.
Jeanine loved to read, and so, in 1996 the Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Literacy Fund was established within the Naperville Education Foundation. The fund provides grants for programs that promote a deeper understanding and teaching of literacy, enrich instructional programs, link literacy between the home and the school, and lay foundations that develop life-long readers.
It was the Nicarico fund that brought these students together. The classroom they were gathered in was that of Prairie Elementary School second-grade teacher Jean Carson. Sami and Rachel are Carson's students, while Alegra and Cynthia are members of Sharon Lipson's second-grade class at Bardwell Elementary School in the East Aurora School District.
The students had, in fact, just met each other that morning, and Nicarico was impressed by the fast friendships some of them had formed.
"It is interesting to see them get along so well when they haven't really met each other," said Nicarico. "It is an interesting way to bring them together through books."
Credit Carson for the idea. She wrote the grant proposal called "Literary Expeditions: Building Bridges to Bardwell School and Back Again." Carson used the Nicarico grant money to purchase books to be shared with Bardwell, which is where she went to elementary school.
The two classes have been reading those books and writing and drawing in journals about them for the past three months. They exchange the books and the journals from time to time so that each class can see what students in the other class think of the books.
As part of an exchange component of the program, Lipson's second-graders from Bardwell visited Carson's class at Prairie. The teachers paired their students up with a "book buddy" from the other class, and the duos spent much of the day reading books and writing in journals together.
The classes and "book buddies" will keep exchanging books and journals until May, when Carson and her students will head to Aurora to visit Lipson's students and spend a day at Bardwell.
"So there will be friendships that will be forming and evolving over the next few months," said Carson. "When we meet them in May, it will be like a class reunion."
"It is interesting to see them get along so well when they haven't really met each other. It is an interesting way to bring them together through books." Pat Nicarico