RSU22 Education Foundation Supports “One Book, One School Initiative

Education Foundation Mini-Grants program is aiding inspired education.

Last fall the RSU22 Education Foundation was able to award seven mini grants to teachers throughout the school district. These grants, which are made possible by the generous support of businesses and members of the community enable the Education Foundation to supplement classroom budgets and promote inspired educational programming to the students of RSU22. One of the grants awarded during the fall grant cycle was to help fund the One School One Book program at the McGraw School.

We checked in with Ms. Kimberley Moran at the McGraw School to see how the initiative went.

What is the goal of One School One Book ?

One School One Book is a movement designed to get an entire school community involved in the joy of reading. Each teacher gets a copy of the selected book. The idea is that when everyone shares the same text, the community becomes closer as they have something in common to talk about. We chose Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate and the artist G. Brian Karas. We chose this book because children K-2 have a natural instinct to protect animals. This wonderful book presents the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla. We intentionally chose a nonfiction picture book because children have lots of questions and diverse interests. Texts that address these can increase motivation to read. For many students, this is actually the type of reading they prefer. Much of the reading students will encounter outside of school is informational, and adults who model reading read a great deal of non-fiction, including informational text. As students progress through the grades and on to college or work, they will be expected to do more informational reading, and the reading will increase in difficulty. Because informational text teaches about the natural and social world, an added benefit is that students who read this type of text will build background knowledge of the natural and social world. They will bring more prior knowledge to the page when encountering future texts. Much of this information about informational text can be found at the Teachers First website.

What was the reaction of students when you started this activity in your class?

Students were riveted by Ivan. They listened and asked more intuitive and inferential questions. They chose to read this book on their own for a close read.

How have you seen this activity benefit your students?

Their responses showed us overwhelmingly that kids can process much higher level information early on. We need to give them the right materials and time to process. Literacy teachers shared that their kids became more engaged with nonfiction, particularly books about gorillas, right after their study of this wonderful book.

What surprises came from initiating this program with the help of the grant from the Education Foundation?

Some of the more surprising things that occurred as a result of the One School One Book project is that teachers began to talk about the books (or Mentor Texts) that worked in their classrooms. Kristin Briggs, Principal at McGraw, said it best, “It is wonderful to have a common text among our staff. It enables us to have conversations together and share ideas on how to use this book and others with our students in creative, engaging ways. The funding for this is very much appreciated!”

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