Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SHS: PTA Book Fair leads to a Stratford/Westport Collaboration

Last year Kristin Veenema, English teacher at SHS created a proposal to use some of the profits of the school Book Fair. This proposal has since become a reality!

The purpose:
  • To provide students with an authentic audience for their thoughts on a text
  • To provide a reading experience that mirrors “what real readers do”
  • To broaden students’ awareness of others beyond their respective districts
  • To identify how differing backgrounds contribute to text interpretation
  • To foster inter-district and inter-community connections


The money collected from Book Fair 2008 will be used to purchase two class sets of one text, one that will stay at Staples HS and one that will be loaned to an area school. Through a Google application or a Voice Thread, all participating students (Staples and other school) will participate in an online discussion forum about the selected text.

Barnes and Noble / Staples Book Fair 2009 will host a gathering for all participating students as part of this year’s fair, which will occur after the online discussion so students can meet one another in person after interacting online.

This project can be continued in a variety of ways:
• Other classes, beyond the pilots in both schools, can read the books as an outside reading option or as participants in their own online forum.
• Continue the online forum by purchasing two class sets of another text.
• Continue the online forum but choose a new partner school with which to discuss texts.
• Eventually extend the program to online discussions between schools in different states or countries.

Presently Kristen Veenama has created a private wiki (PBworks) called shswallflowers to implement the project. Students from Staples High School and Stratford High School are regularly commenting on the wiki and relationships are being developed. On Monday, some students from both classes will meet at a Barnes & Noble event here in Westport. This is an unexpected and incredible learning opportunity that has been created from the profits of a Book Fair! We need more proposals and activities like this, I think!

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

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