Our Reading Tournament kicked off on March 4th with a collection of sixteen outstanding nonfiction picture books. Teachers in every classroom at Williams Elementary School read aloud eight picture books from one side of the bracket with their students. Classrooms discussed not only the content and structure of the text, but also their favorite features. After the texts had been read aloud, students voted between pairs of books to determine which nonfiction books would move on to "The Elite Eight".
After the winners of round one were determined, teachers then read the four books from the other side of the bracket. Students participated in rich classroom discussions in order to select our "Final Four" Nonfiction Picture Book Champions. Here are the four final texts in our March Madness bracket which will be announced at school this morning!
March Madness has not only created an energy and excitement for read aloud; it has also exposed students to more nonfiction, which can be a neglected genre. Teachers have used our March Madness bracket as a springboard for discussions of text features and structures, vocabulary and author's purpose. The fifth grade teachers shared that our nonfiction study has led to deep discussion about a variety of topics with students. Most of all, students have been surprised by the fact that all of the books are about real people and events! Readers have been inspired to look up extra information about topics after read aloud. One teacher shared that her students can't wait to find out which book they are reading each day. Students have found a renewed curiosity in a variety of topics through the tournament. A fifth grader shared, "The books were interesting because I learned new things like in How to Swallow a Pig. I learned a lot about animals I didn't know. It was fun to read the books and it was exciting!" Another student explained, "The titles give you a lot to think about like No Monkeys, No Chocolate. So I like that these nonfiction books really make you think about things for a while and then sometimes your thinking changes." We love that our students are becoming reflective and inspired by the books in our collection!
Another exciting feature for students and staff has been the connection with some of the authors through Twitter. Melissa Stewart created a nonfiction blog post about our nonfiction book bracket encouraging schools across the country to follow our lead in reading aloud more nonfiction. http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2016/03/march-madness.html Twitter has allowed authors to follow the progress of their books through the bracket. After the initial posting, Matt Tavares, author of Growing Up Pedro tweeted, "Going against @duncantonatiuh in the first round? That's gonna be tough. Go Pedro!" It's exciting to see the energy from our project extending outside the walls of our school!
Regardless of the final champion, the staff has enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate reading as a school community. Our students are the real winners as they've developed a greater appreciation for nonfiction!
Next Wednesday, I am looking forward to announcing our final champion and sharing pictures from our school wide assembly! Stay tuned!