NAUGATUCK — Before the first bell sounded March 28 at Salem Elementary School, second- and fourth-graders were already busy at work passing iPads back and forth putting together their latest book talk project.
“I’ve done four [book talks]. They take a while to do sometimes and we only have a small amount of time,” fourth-grader Alexus Martin said.
The students are part of the book talk club that takes place Fridays and Tuesdays at Salem.
The club allows the students to write a review of a book they’ve read and make a video of themselves introducing the book. The videos and reviews are then uploaded to www.wilsond7.edublogs.org.
The club was started by second-grade teacher Deborah Wilson as a way to help encourage students to become avid readers.
“I do what I can to try to encourage them and this really seems to encourage them to want to read and share the good books that they’re reading,” she said.
Wilson started the club two years ago with her second-grade class. At the time, the club consisted of the students reading books and typing up their reviews.
Last year, the club received a grant from the Naugatuck Education Foundation to buy six iPads and add a video component to the club.
“They love it. It’s the reason it’s as popular as it is. There are some kids that just really want to learn the technology. So they’re reading more and writing more because they want to use [the technology],” Wilson said.
This year the club was also opened to fourth-graders.
Wilson said the scripts for the videos are written by the students. The students then film and edit the videos using Pixlr and iMovie.
The students are fast learners. Wilson said some students are able to record and upload their videos without any help.
“The only thing they need me for is to put the password in and then they go,” Wilson said. “It can be complicated because they have to upload it from the iPads to the blog. It’s not an easy thing to do, but they have become very tech savvy by doing this.”
Wilson said many students have taken part in the club over the years, but there are about eight students each Friday.
Wilson said that one of the reasons there are not more students is because the club only has six iPads, five of which have video capability. Since all the information is stored on the individual iPad, students need to use the same one they started with each week.
Wilson will receive another grant from the Naugatuck Education Foundation that will allow her to buy another five iPads and expand the program.
Wilson said regardless of how many iPads the club gets, the club’s mission will still be to get students to read more.
“The students are the best experts of what is a good book. If they tell each other you’ve got to read this book, it means a lot more,” Wilson said. “That’s the number one thing, if you get the right book in the right hands, they’ll read. If you connect each child with a book that speaks to them, they will become readers. So they’re doing that. They’re connecting with each other and getting the right books into each other’s hands.”
Wilson’s excitement for reading has extended to the students through the club.
“I like it a lot, and I’m always coming here. I like making talks because my mom likes hearing them to see what the books are about,” second-grader Rylee Jordan said.
Jordan said she keeps coming back to the club because, in addition to reading, the club is helping her learn to type.
Fourth-grade teacher Kathy Truccolo, who assists Wilson in running the club, has already seen the club yield positive results.
“At the beginning of the year one of my struggling reader’s mother sent us an email saying how wonderful the club was and how it motivated her daughter to read and get a book talk done because she wanted to present it,” Truccolo said.
Wilson said the club teaches students that school can be fun as well as educational.
“It’s a great club. The kids have fun with it. They’re learning a lot,” Wilson said. “They like school more because they see it as fun being here. The more things being offered that are fun like that, the more they see school as fun and learning as fun. It’s a great experience for them.”