NBJH reading project offers two-way exchange

Drama Students Create Resource For Young Readers
Posted on 04/07/2020
Picture book Read-Alouds by NBJH studentsIt didn’t take long for NBJH drama teacher David Downing to brainstorm how to keep drama students engaged while also giving back to the community.

“I was thinking how best we could use drama to help people navigate these unusual times. I knew it would have to be something performance-based and recorded. The idea just came to me - to have the junior high kids perform for the younger kids, and make it accessible to them,” Downing said.

His first recruitment wave netted six for six – every student he contacted volunteered to participate. Authors worldwide have eased copyright restrictions during this pandemic, allowing individuals to record read-alouds that can be shared. By noting the author and publisher with each recording, the school is meeting copyright requirements, Mr. Downing said. So with books in one hand, and iPads in the other, the students got to work.

“What people are seeing is what I got from the kids - the editing and performing are all their own - I'm just the middle man,” Mr. Downing said.

The recordings are uploaded to the NBJH YouTube channel and are also posted on Supplemental Activities Page for K-3 with SafeYouTube links so that the younger students can enjoy them on their iPads. It is an instant success with our primary grade teachers.

“Most of my storybooks are at school and this gives me additional ways to push read-alouds out to my students. We use read-alouds all the time to help reinforce reading and writing concepts during literacy studio, so I love having these great examples to use as mentor texts,” said Kevin Winters, a kindergarten teacher at Westmoor School.

Megan Esterling, a third-grade teacher at Greenbriar, says the read-alouds are a great way to connect the students.

“I am seeking any way to connect my students to each other and other children in meaningful, rich and fun ways, and listening to read-alouds is a wonderful way to do this--especially when they are high-interest, high-quality books being read by their friends and neighbors!” Ms. Esterling said.

Mr. Downing plans to open the project to any junior high student who is interested. “We are so fortunate in District 28 that we have the technological resources that allow us to do this! Now that it's up & running, I'm planning on opening it up to any student that would like to be involved,” Downing said.

NBJH YouTube Channel