In celebration of Education Week, Ponoka Composite High School hosted events encouraging literacy and reading May 2 to May 9.
The week kicked off with a school-wide assembly explaining reasons why students should read more for enjoyment and make reading a habit. Students watched the humorous motivational video I’m Reading a Book by YouTube comedian Julian Smith to encourage them to focus on reading, without interruptions.
A literacy display in the main hall of the school features photos of all the school staff and the front covers of their favorite reading material.
Literacy tutorial teacher Jill Hornby, explained the whole concept of the literacy events and display was “to increase the buzz about reading at PCHS.”
“We want our school to have a school culture where reading is enjoyable and cool.
“Students can already easily find way too many reasons why they ‘don’t have time to read’ in this day and age. Students need to directly see the benefits and value of reading so that they will make it a priority. “
At PCHS the teachers are acting as role models for the students. By displaying and discussing what they most enjoy reading, they encourage students to get into reading those same books. Suddenly this week the focus is books, books, books. Everyone is looking at the literacy display and constantly talking about what they personally enjoy reading.”
“The students are having conversations and asking their teachers why they enjoy reading Hot Rod Magazine, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It is wonderful for students to realize that there is a wide variety of enriching reading material. Finding something that they are interested in and developing a daily reading habit is what really helps a student grow into an academically successful reader.”
On May 3 Bookface @ PCHS, the new school book club, was launched. Students will meet weekly to discuss books that they are reading independently and reading together as a group. Every two months they will plan and participate in group special events themed around literacy. Interestingly, students who join Bookface@PCHS at school can also join the group virtually on Facebook.
Hornby sees this as an opportunity to use social media in a more positive and productive way, for educational purposes.
“Through ‘Bookface@ PCHS,’ which is on Facebook, students can add to their virtual libraries and track their reading. They can write reviews of what they have read and easily share recommended book titles with friends online in their social network. I think that social media and technology has a tremendous potential to get teenagers literally ‘plugged in’ to reading more. I am hoping it will help students get addicted to reading at PCHS. We shouldn’t fear technology; we should use it to our advantage.”
“When encouraging students to become more literate, it is imperative that we as educators stay up to date with the times, trends, and technology that teenagers find so engaging. ”
Other events during PCHS’s Literacy Week included a “Get Caught Reading Competition,” where students were entered in a prize draw if their teachers “caught them” spending increased time reading independently. Prizes for the draw were sponsored by 10 businesses.
Hornby was thankful for the community support from the businesses. “What a powerful motivator and message to send to teenagers! Ten local businesses said: ‘You bet! We will sponsor your literacy events to encourage your high school students to read more. What do you need from us? How can we help out?’ It is truly amazing to work in a community where local businesses are willing to invest in local students and promote good educational values in this way.”
When the draw for the reading competition was held at the end of the week, 70 students were rewarded for spending more time reading. The grand prize was a Kobo Electronic Reader, won by Grade 9 student Jon Huband.
Mark Richter’s block A health class won the silent reading competition. The class earned this win with more than just good luck because they have been participating in silent reading every week since as far back as September.
Finally, more than 520 books were donated as part of the PCHS book drive to enlarge classroom libraries. These books will help give students immediate access to a varied selection of reading material while they are in class. Most impressively, these book donations came primarily from PCHS students, teachers, and parents.
If you would still like to make a book or monetary donation to further the Literacy Drive contact Jill Hornby by phone for further information at (403)783-4411 ext. 5141.
All in all it was an extremely successful Education Week at PCHS.