• July 15, 2020

ECISD offering virtual reading challenge - Odessa American: Education

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ECISD offering virtual reading challenge

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Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 1:07 pm

To encourage a love of reading, Ector County ISD’s Advanced Academic Services and Curriculum and Instruction departments have devised a virtual summer reading challenge.

Aimed at grades three through 12, the challenge will last through the start of school Aug. 12.

Omega Loera, director of Advanced Academic Services, said book clubs, little free libraries and apps are part of the program. Instructional Technology also helped in the process.

Heather Bland, the instructional coach for secondary gifted and talented, said a team of curriculum and instruction, language arts and literacy directors met in December and January to discuss the purpose of summer reading.

“… It’s required for our students who participate in honors and AP (Advanced Placement) courses, so we were talking about ways we could make it more enjoyable,” Bland said. “In the past, there’s been like two books that are assigned and in the end students have to complete projects” and keep a journal, Bland said.

To avoid making summer reading seem punitive, they decided to offer more choices of what students could read that would engage them and be of high interest.

“We have all the way up to 12 books that students can choose from and then with us missing school the way we did we had to think about how would we get that information out and make it really engaging. So Elisha Vega (secondary English language arts coordinator) and Amye Cotton (elementary ELAR coordinator) worked with our IT department and created a website on summer reading, so there’s information on all the books with book trailers just like you would have with movies; really different things to get students excited and then the only requirement for middle school is that students read at least one book in its entirety …,” Bland said.

“Elementary does have some assignments to keep up with during the reading because they may forget more of what they read by the time they return to school in the fall. Then our AP teachers, by the time you get to 11th and 12th grade, those students have pretty well been trained for the honors classes on what needs to be done over summer reading so they have some assignments that they keep up with,” she added.

The program is required for middle and high school and honors classes, but it is open to everyone.

“… Our Curriculum and Instruction team, with Advanced Academics, was able to purchase a lot of new books that can be checked out,” Bland said. “In the past month, students have bought their own books. We wanted to make sure that every student also had access to these books so books were purchased and also a new app.”

Loera said it’s called SORA and it talks to an Ector County Public Library app called Libby. 

SORA is basically an audio and eBook app that students can use free, Loera said.

For more information, visit ECISD summer reading under curriculum and instruction.

“Students that may not have internet access where they live, if they download the (app) on their cell phone, iPad, computer, or whatever from the place that they have internet connection like the school parking lot and they go home that book is on their device without the Wi-Fi,” Bland said.

She added that students may enjoy the electronic format of a book more than a hard copy.

“They can take notes like they would in a journal and transfer all that information into their own personal school Google Drive, so they can have quotes from the book and things like that are saved when they return to school, even if they don’t have the book checked out anymore,” Bland said.

Loera said the SORA app allows a campus to see how much a student has read.

In July, Bland said a virtual book club will be offered.

“Over 40 teachers signed up for summer training through this book club format, so they are choosing from the ECISD summer reading list. Part of their training is to read the book and then they go through their own virtual book clubs and they will lead a book club for students,” Bland said.

She added that this will be a way to engage students with reading whether they are at home or in class during the school year.

Additionally, books were placed at various campuses around town that students can check out.

“The most important thing we’ve done this year is make sure that every student has book access. We want to make it as easy as we can for students to fall in love with reading and for it to be a joyful act …,” Bland said.

On a separate item, Camp SIP (Scholars in Progress) was held virtually this year. It ends Thursday.

This year’s theme is “Back to the Future,” so each teacher had their own decade, Loera said.

Barbara Digby stated in an email that her groups are 1980s shows led by Vanessa Brower and Claudia Richards.

All the "Back to the Future" groups have set up the classes as an A group and a B group. But Loera said the students aren’t expected to be on the computer all day.

The 50s is presented by Digby and Johnna Rosson.

“Our technology usage is Google Classroom, Flipgrid, and a bit of Jamboard. We were unable to incorporate Minecraft and coding this year, because of the lack of available compatible devices for our students. We are adding a more student-directed format. All of our students are focusing on independent learning. We begin with teacher-directed learning, then the students begin their research, practice, or project building,” Digby stated in an email.

“It is great to see their independent learning styles and their ability to adapt to our changing classrooms. Each of our ‘Back to the Future’ groups will conduct its own virtual showcase, Thursday, June 25th,” she stated.

SIP Bilingual Program teacher Mayra Alvarez said her time period for Camp SIP is the 1920s.

“Students are being taught how things have changed over time. Just like in the 1920s, many things had to be created so we could have some of the inventions that we have nowadays. We are focusing on STEM activities which include creating a foosball table, a bridge out of popsicle sticks, a marble maze and our final product will be a Rube Goldberg challenge,” Alvarez stated in an email.

“Camp has gone good, considering this is our first virtual Camp SIP. Our scholars enjoyed the challenges that have come up so far. These challenges have allowed the students to learn more about the SCAMPER (substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to other uses, eliminate and reverse) process. I have included some coding activities in my class. The students have created their own Google Logo using Tynker.com and have completed an activity on hourofcode.com," she stated.

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