After months of learning about the common elements of literature and short stories, eighth-grade students in Patricia Rini’s Language Arts class are ready to put their writing skills and creativity into action.
Her fourth-period students have been selected to help Nancy Blankenship’s fourth-graders at Redwood Elementary School write picture books that will teach others about the universal theme of friendship.
“I think this service project is a wonderful opportunity for my fourth graders,” Blankenship said. “We have second grade buddies here at Redwood, but to be able to travel to Learwood and interact with much older students will be an experience they won’t soon forget.”
This project was jumpstarted by the Peer Assistance Review program (PAR), a district initiative that has resulted as part of new state mandates. Blankenship earned a learning service grant through the Youth Fund of the Community Foundation of Lorain County, and that funding will go toward the project.
Costco Warehouse, in Avon, is helping out, teaming up with these students from Learwood and Redwood Elementary school to help them complete their books. Students will create their books using the Costco website and design and illustrate each page of their co-authored book. Upon completion in May, these books will be signed and donated to the Avon Lake Public Library so that other children may read and enjoy their stories.
Redwood Elementary School teacher T.J. Ebert applauded the effort.
“In these economic times we currently find ourselves in, this is a creative and innovative way to find resources needed to help educate our students,” Ebert said. “It’s a great opportunity for our Avon Lake students to collaborate and learn from one another. Writing these books on friendship covers numerous English and Language Arts standards and help students realize the importance of being a good friend and citizen for one another. This is a creative and innovative way to educate our students.”
Students weigh in
“The fourth graders are probably really excited because they get to work with us older kids,” middle school student, Vanessa Ninkovic said. “I feel super excited because I get to go back to Redwood and have an opportunity to write with the little kids.”
Student Sarah Hessel supported the benefits of collaboration.
“I think the fourth graders are probably nervous to meet us for the first time because we are the older intimidating and scary kids, but I’m sure once they get to know us they will have so much fun,” Hessel said. “It (the eight graders helping the fourth graders) will greatly improve their writing abilities to hear our more advanced ways of writing.”
Students will take turns traveling to each other's classrooms each month. Fourth-grader Noah Volle says he is looking forward to writing and illustrating a book of his own, and Zachary Ruddick says he is excited because a book that he has made will be in the Avon Lake Public Library. Eighth-graders will be teaching the younger students about characters, theme, setting, and plot.
The books will be co-authored with illustrations by both eighth graders and fourth graders.
“I think it is a great opportunity for the fourth graders to work with someone older, someone who has more knowledge of writing but who is closer in age than their teacher. I also believe this is a good experience for us because it will strengthen our social abilities,” Morgan Frank, an eighth grader in Rini’s class, said.