MAYFIELD – Teachers are always actively engaged in encouraging reading proficiency in their students, but it's during this time of the year when they celebrate the love of books with community involvement, a dash of Dr. Seuss silliness and for the first time – a music video.
Read Across America is a program to encourage a nation of readers by the National Education Association.
This week was Read Across America Week, which celebrates this initiative in conjunction with the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.
At Lakeland's Mayfield Campus, just reading to kids was not all they accomplished. They also produced a fun, upbeat parody music video.
Reading Specialist Katelyn Phillips suggested the teachers work together to produce the video.
“I wanted to do something different for Read Across America Week,” she said. “I wanted to do something exciting.”
Phillips looked at what other schools had done, and the video idea came up. The other teachers were eager to help.
The video portrays teachers and staff reading books while dancing, walking into desks, shaking maracas, sitting in a ball pit or spinning in an office chair.
Phillips thought it was important for the elementary students to see their school teachers and staff in a different light, and encourage a little silliness.
The kickoff event on Monday morning had the whole school in the gym. Phillips was dressed as the Cat in the Hat as she presented the collaborative video.
“The kids loved it. They were belly laughing,” said Phillips. “That's why I did it. I did it for the kids. It's okay to be silly. You can have fun reading.”
Some kids participated, and Phillips stated this gave them a “sense of ownership” and made them even more excited for Read Across America.
The music video for “Read All Day” is to the tune of Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. Two teachers in Middletown NJ, Jamie Corso and Colleen O'Neil, wrote the original parody song in 2015.
Alissa Swarts, music instructor at Lakeland Elementary, provided the voice behind the music. On a Sunday afternoon she provided the vocals, recorded and re-recorded the song.
“I was also one of the teachers dancing on the art room tables. I'm the one with the ukulele,” Swarts said. “It was super fun, and a great way to engage the students.”
Every year for Read Across America Week, community members visit to read to the kids, but for the 4th through 6th graders Phillips decided to change it up. On Thursday, March 2, honor society juniors and seniors from the high school read to them instead.
Phillips knows from experience as a former sixth grade teacher that sixth graders sometimes tire from listening to adults all the time. Having older students read to them helped them connect both to the reader and the reading.
The elementary students are also embroiled in a friendly reading competition, tracking their reading progress with a visual map in the hallway.
Each student travels one “mile” for each page read, and the students are excited to see who reads the “farthest” during the time period.
For the love of reading, a funny video and cooperation between teachers in a school can make a world of difference. The evidence is present in the smiles of happy children as they settle into a good story.