• Brookside Fort Building with Karen Stefanacci and Abby Miller

    As part of the vision of Worthington Schools, we provide diverse learning opportunities to prepare every learner for future success. At Brookside Elementary, our teachers are using hands-on projects and interests to enhance and improve students’ writing skills.

    Kindergarten teacher Karen Stefanacci and Abby Miller, a Student Achievement Coach at the school, noticed there was a variety of writing needs throughout the classroom, especially with 15 of the 26 kids being ELL (English Language Learners) students. The teachers often wondered if the class was having an issue with translation or the subjects just weren’t relatable.

    “Part of writing, the very beginning of writing, is oral language,” said Miller. “We really needed to get the oral language going to get the writing going.”

    The two teachers discussed making interactive writing (discussing a topic as part of the writing assignment) and used the students’ interest in building, everything from blocks to Legos, to engage them.

  • “We wanted to use interactive writing every day and get everybody to put pencil to paper and write,” Miller explained. “That way we could address the individual writing needs, but we could also address that engagement.”

    To start, Miller brought in pictures of a backyard patio building project at her house, and then she read a book called “The House that Jack Built” and all the students loved it.

    In addition, students even got to work on a building project of their own. After breaking up into six groups, students constructed their own fort with blankets and cardboard.

    “The conversations they had when they were building those forts were priceless,” Miller laughed. “A lot of our kids who we had building these forts weren’t saying much beforehand and you wouldn’t believe how excited they were to talk about the project.”

    Armed with something the entire class could relate to, writing about the project became much easier. Improvements have already been readily noticeable.

    “It was a great community activity,” Miller said, “but it really got that oral language going, so we were able to show them how that oral language then transfers to the writing.”