Photo of students in classing. Tagline: Learning and Achievement for all.

A Vaughan Elementary School challenge united students and teachers, while infusing excitement about reading in a competitive but friendly way. The project spearheaded by Heather Crissman, reading teacher and Christine Martin, Title I teacher, utilized a March Madness basketball theme.

"We met with the librarian to choose eight books that would capture the interest of all students in grades K-5. We grouped the books by similar themes to create four unique conferences," said Crissman. She and Martin recruited teachers to video record themselves reading one of the eight books, ensuring pages were displayed so students could see the text and illustrations.

The first pair of books were introduced during morning announcements with links provided so teachers could play each video later in the day. After viewing both book readings, students voted for the one they liked best. Students were advised to focus on the story and not the reader's delivery.

"This was a fun way to capitalize upon the excitement of the basketball season while engaging our students in reading with a schoolwide approach that builds community and consensus," said Vaughan Elementary Principal Mark Boyd.

At the end of the day, teachers entered vote totals into a self-tallying spreadsheet that was shared on Microsoft Teams for all staff. To capture interest, a bracket was displayed in the main hallway, near the cafeteria, so students and staff could be kept aware of the winning titles and upcoming matches.

"It was fun walking through the hallways and classes and hearing the students talk about which book they wanted to see as the champion," shared Crissman.

The books selected for the competition included:

The Brief Thief
The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors
The Day the Crayons Quit
The Interrupting Chicken
Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude
Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anybody
Creepy Pair of Underwear
The Very Impatient Caterpillar

Boyd and Christina Badami and Michele Edwards, assistant principals, recorded the final read aloud of The Very Impatient Caterpillar, which was the celebrated Wildcats champion.

Learning and Achievement for All Aprendizaje y logros para todos. Tagline Futuros Prósperos Thriving Futures.