Watson Chronicle

WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Programs for P-12 Students

Book Project Connects WCE Students and College Park Fourth Graders

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The first week of November, 41 Watson College elementary pre-service teachers visited College Park Elementary School to discuss books they have jointly been reading. The event celebrated a semester-long project coordinated by WCE associate professor Lisa Buchanan in partnership with fourth grade teachers Caroline Kemmerer 14, Joanne Kaluzny and Rachael Hill 16.

This fall, WCE students and College Park fourth graders read Stella by Starlight and Inside Out and Back Again. Over the course of the semester, the groups corresponded as pen pals, sharing their ideas about themes, key events and social issues covered in the books. In November, the pre-service teachers brought activities to the school to deepen students’ understanding of the texts. Activities included inflation simulations, economic choice discussions, creating lanterns through geometric design, and analyzing primary sources for both titles.

Buchanan and Kemmerer have completed multiple book studies between their classes, using WCE books and materials that students could borrow. This summer, Buchanan, Kemmerer and Kaluzny received a UNCW Community Engagement grant to purchase classroom sets of books, and the program was expanded to include all College Park fourth grade classes. This fall, more than 75 students took part in the book club program.

Participating students were enrolled in EDN 334, a social studies methods class for students in WCE’s undergraduate Elementary Education program. The project, titled “College Park Book Clubs: A School-University Partnership in Fourth Grade,” focused on historical fiction.

“The fourth graders enjoyed reading alongside WCE students and were so excited when they visited school to lead us in activities related to the books,” Kemmerer said. “The fourth grade team is fortunate to have a partnership with Dr. Buchanan and her students from UNCW.”

“The project was a great fit and a great partnership,” Buchanan said. “Caroline is a former student who was paired with Joanne for her internship. They have both remained strong advocates for partnering with our methods courses through WCE’s Professional Development System Office.”

Over the summer, WCE department chair Kathy Fox extended congratulations to Buchanan and the College Park teachers on their grant award.

“As a witness to the enthusiasm you three bring to this project, I know its effect is much greater than the term ‘book study’ implies,” Fox said. “Together you are educating pre-service teachers about not only implementation of a social studies rich literature experience but also the importance of collaboration among colleagues. The children gain the experience of corresponding on a regular basis with a university student while getting academic benefits from the learning activity itself. I am so happy to see your hard work recognized in this way.”

Buchanan, Kemmerer and Kaluzny shared information about their work at the NC School-University Partnership Summit in October. The presentation was titled, “Fourth Grade Book Clubs: Using Historical Fiction to Bridge the Elementary and Teacher Education Classroom.” The team has also authored an article about the work that has been accepted for spring 2018 publication in Social Studies and the Young Learner.

Phyllis Pierce, administrative associate in WCE’s Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy and Special Education, coordinated the purchase of all materials related to the Community Engagement Grant.

Books purchased with the grant funding will remain at College Park for use by future fourth graders and additional UNCW-school collaborations are planned.