The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

SHJH students get taste of literary competition in Battle of the Books


March 15, 2016

HAMMING IT UP A BIT – or maybe not? Sweet Home Battle of the Books team members. clockwise from lower left, are Olivia Martineau, Rebekah Fassler, Sicily Neuschwander and Ryan Schrick. The four read the 16 books shown here in preparation for the competition, their first, in which they were quizzed about details in the stories.

For The New Era

Four Sweet Home Junior High students competed Saturday, March 12, in the Oregon Battle of the Books competition in Silverton, a statewide reading and literacy competition.

The program encourages “reading to increase comprehension, promote academic excellence and cooperative learning amongst students.” Students who participated were Olivia Martineau, Rebekah Fassler, Sicily Neuschwander and Ryan Schrick.

It was a vision that I, and another language arts teacher, Amanda Willis with support of Lana Holden, agreed to put into practice at the beginning of this school year.

The students were expected to read a list of 16 books that were at an appropriate lexile level for their division (in our case Middle School). While we struggled to figure out the dynamics of acquiring books, and getting a buy in from the students the results were rewarding.

Our students worked diligently for months reading these while keeping up with their school work, and extracurricular activities. They showed us that the values and aspirations of our learning community is in line with our district’s vision of academic excellence.

As first-time participants during the regionals, the students were a little stressed out.

“It was almost like state testing,” except that we were not allowed to consult the book itself, Olivia said. “I was so sure of the answer that as a spokesperson I had to disagree with the team and just say the correct answer.”

Willis added, “As first-timers we got lucky that we got to watch a different team battle first.”

“We worked so hard. We came after school every day and during our lunches with Ms. Holden, and then with you. I read more, almost a quarter of the list of books.” For Rebekah, a sure-win strategy was, “memorizing and re-reading,” Sicily said.

Although we did not make it to state, our students have shown us what an amazing job our educators do in teaching effective reading skills regardless of the content areas.

Between the team that represented the school district at the regionals in Silverton High School this weekend, and any other students that read any of the books on the list, we had at least 50-60 books read for no other reason but the love of reading and good sportsmanship.

It is great to know that in our state and our district we have teachers volunteering their time to see our students become better readers and lifelong learners. One of our biggest struggles last year was to acquire books and our lack of funds got in the way of getting them early enough. This year our goal is to get books before students go out for summer break.

Parent and community members can provide support by making a donation in any amount at the Junior High.


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