The sixth grade students at Alliance Middle School spent the third nine weeks preparing for the annual Reading Fair held Tuesday, Mar. 12.
The gym was transformed into an academic fair on Tuesday evening for all the sixth graders at AMS. Similar to how a Science Fair shows off the students understanding of the scientific method, the Reading Fair allows the students to show off their understanding of literary elements to their teachers, families and friends.
“It’s always great to see the families supporting and encouraging the students,” said Chris Gibowicz, curriculum director for Alliance City Schools. “A project like this is a curriculum director’s dream. It shows the students’ literature skills and encourages their love of learning.”
The project began with students finding a book that interested them. It had to be challenging enough and interesting enough to keep them busy for most of the third nine weeks. The goal was to find them a series they would be interested in so they will continue to read even after the project is complete.
The students had assignments leading up to the Reading Fair. The fair allotted them the opportunity to create a poster board relating to the book, a criteria for the project. They had to come up with ideas in class on how they can show the theme of the book through the decorations on their boards. Some of the student used their artistic talents to create engaging boards like the one Kennedy Miller made.
Miller read “Eighth Grade Bites” by Zach Brewer for her project. She chose it because she likes books that are creepy and supernatural. The vampire theme of the book showed through on her board in the red paint splatters made to resemble blood. She had fun mixing her love of art and reading into one big project.
“My favorite part of the whole project was doing the blood splotts on the board,” Miller said. “My mom showed me how to do it, and I sat there learning how to do it because I love doing art. Once I figured out how to do them, I could do them really well.”
Other boards included treasure chests, pictures and even a miniature ferris wheel.
“The Reading Fair was inspired by a really advanced class I had about five years ago,” said Matthew Horning, a sixth grade English Language Arts teacher at AMS. “We decided we wanted to do something like this, but when we implemented it, every kid participated.”
The project came about from a similar project done in Missouri. The concept is the same as a science fair where the students work on the small pieces of the project until the whole project is complete. The project is required for all of the sixth grade students at AMS. The support the Reading Fair has received from the parents, staff and administration has been astounding over the past few years. So many people attend each year, the fair has to be split into two sessions, each an hour long.
“I really like the experience of the parents standing with the kid, asking them questions about the board their child made,” Horning said. “I think that’s a powerful conversation and the kids learn lessons from it. Either because they are really proud of what they did or because they realize ‘maybe next time I can do a little bit more.’”
The students’ grades are based off the scores they receive the day of the fair. Rubrics were provided to the attendees who would go around and grade some of the boards based off the criteria provided. Each student was required to grade two of their peers as well.