Over the summer of 2017, Highland students were asked to choose one of the two selected titles as part of the Highland Reads Initiative. It was the first time we tried a summer reading program with extensions into the classrooms for the fall. Year one was a success! The titles were:
To kick off Highland Reads when we started the year, all faculty hung an I am... I will... statement mirroring the titles of the book outside their doors. It serves as a statement of identity and goals/intentionality. Students were also asked to complete statements in Studio Ones and put on display before Curriculum Night.
One of the activities in our opening sessions in the library is to have students and staff contribute to a display so we have a visual representation of who has read the books.
Classes have done reflections, had discussions, and one sixth grade team has an interactive bulletin board about lessons and learning from the books. In 8th grade social studies information about the Taliban was discussed in their 9/11 studies and connections were made to content in I am Malala. Examples of classroom connections are shared daily.
From 9/12 - 9/14, Helen Bond and Fode Camara of the Benkadi project did a three day residency at Highland that was connected to the themes of the book. While Fode is from Guinea in West Africa and Helen does her work there, there were clear connections made to understanding culture and thinking more globally. One day the pair worked with French classes as many in Guinea speak French. One day the pair talked with science classes about efforts to get people access to clean water and build food security. And on the third day, there were drumming and culture sessions in the library where out students through their ELA classes got a chance to learn while they drummed. You can read the article from the Daily Herald here - http://www.dailyherald.com/news/20170914/drumming-up-a-cultural-experience-in-libertyville-school
On the morning of 9/15, Highland had an event called Walk a Mile in their shoes. Students and staff walked a 5K (3.1 mi) before school to simulate the distance many students in Africa and other places have to travel to get to school each day. The event ended with participants sampling porridge made from an African recipe.
Our program culminated with an awesome author visit from Caitlin Alifirenka, one of the co-authors of I Will Always Write Back. Caitlin spoke with all the students at Highland and had lunch and did a book signing for the Highland Reads Raffle Winners.