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Rachael Walker

In this special series, children's literacy consultant Rachael Walker and many of the authors, parents, and educators she’s met and worked with talk about how books have changed their lives, how to bring books to life for young readers, and how to enrich kids’ lives with good books. (Also visit Rachael at her blog, Belle of the Book.)

Water Words and Watersheds

September 17, 2018

Anna Faulkner acquired a passion for working with students in 2006 as a teacher at Bingham Academy, an international school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She moved back to the U.S. to earn her Masters of Education in International Education Policy and graduated in May of 2012.

Since then she has been working with children and thinking about how to make education more meaningful, culturally appropriate, and fun for the most marginalized communities. She is currently the Program Manager at aspire! Afterschool Learning, an after school program in South Arlington where we focus on improving student literacy.

 

This past week at aspire!, we have been implementing the River Rangers curriculum, a free resource from Reading Rockets' Start with a Book project. Each of our three sites has focused on different aspects of the curriculum, but all of our students have had fun, learned new things about the world around them, and found some interesting new books.

One activity that our students enjoyed was creating a watershed. They love building and creating things, so not only was it fun for them, but they learned about water flows and were very thoughtful about how water flows down mountains and through places to empty into other rivers, lakes, and oceans.

It really helped them understand a big piece of why taking care of our watersheds is so important. It also helped them learn about the concept of saturation, which we able to connect to real life events as so many places have been experiencing flooding in the area.

River Rangers building a watershed model

We’ve also been learning new vocabulary. After students reviewed the vocabulary words about water, they played a Bingo review game where they matched words with definitions. Next week, we’ll go on river walk by the Four Mile Run and see what aspects of the river they can identify using their new vocabulary.

Students are also learning new vocabulary through some of the great books that came with the River Rangers curriculum.

Our students read every day. A couple favorites have been Marshes and Swamps by Gail Gibbons, one of my favorite children’s book authors as well as Over and Under the Pond, a beautiful book by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal. Some of our older students are reading through it, so they can practice reading it with some of our younger students.

River Rangers vocabulary and books

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"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom" —

Robert Frost