Fenner Elementary School Wraps Up Reading Program

FALCONER – Students at Fenner Elementary School gathered in the auditorium to cheer on their teachers as they competed for class prizes in game show fashion.

On Friday, teachers competed for the class prizes by participating in a series of 11 games that have appeared on NBC’s hit game show, “Minute to Win It,” such as: Ready Spaghetti, Extreme Hanky Panky, Paper Dragon, Baby Rattle, Candelier, A Bit Dicey, Shoe Fly Shoe, Sticky Situation, Stack Attack, Stick the Landing and Wet Ball. The games were taken from the “Minute to Win It” website’s challenge archives, which provides rules and instructional videos for the challenges.

The prizes, which included a movie and popcorn day as well as an opportunity for students to wear pajamas to school for a day, were given as a reward for classes that had exceeded their predetermined goals for the total number of minutes spent reading books. The reading goal is part of the Parents As Reading Partners program, which has been integrated into Falconer Central School’s curriculum for the past eight years.

The “Minute to Win It” assembly was organized by Cindy Nutt, a fourth-grade academic intervention services teacher, and Sue Arrance, a third-grade AIS teacher. According to Nutt, the concept of having teachers compete in the games came from another teacher in the building.

“The idea came from one of our special education teachers,” she said. “At Christmastime, she was doing some of the challenges with her students, and that was kind of the catalyst behind (the assembly). So, Sue Arrance and myself went through the (‘Minute to Win It’) website and just kind of picked (the challenges) we thought we could do. We tried them out at home or here at school, and that’s how we decided on the ones we did today.”

As far as the classes involved in the assembly, Nutt said that the most active PARP participants constituted the makeup of the attendees.

“We gave each class a challenge, they had to read so many minutes,” she said. “PARP was 14 days, and we said that every student in the class had to read 20 minutes every day for PARP. And if they did that, that was their overall goal. So every classroom has a different overall goal because of the different number of students. If they met that goal, it allowed the class to come and attend this assembly. Not all of (the kids) read 20 minutes every day, some of them read more and some of them read less. But they had to work together as a class to get that total.”

This year’s PARP program kicked off at Fenner with an opening assembly on Feb. 1, and the school’s theme for the program was, “We love reading!” In addition to the 280-minute reading goal per student, the 14-day program also included events such as: a crazy sock day, a marvelous math night, a sports-themed T-shirt day, a “poem in your pocket” day and a book exchange day. Visitors also came to the school to read with the students, including student athletes from Falconer Middle/High School, volunteers of the Jamestown Kiwanis Club and a book signing by Concetta Kennedy, a local author.

According to Larry Spangenburg, Fenner principal, the district’s implementation of PARP is what makes the school and its students so special.

“(The ‘Minute to Win It’ assembly) was great way to wrap up the (PARP) program,” said Spangenburg. “Whenever you have a program like this, you have to have a goal in mind so the kids can see the end result. We’re constantly promoting literacy and reading here, and the PARP program is a major part of that. It’s been a very successful program every year. It just encourages reading, and that’s our goal and the main goal of PARP. And the AIS staff here does a great job.”

According to members of the academic intervention services staff, the PARP program is a special way to show students the importance of reading.

“We talk about how you can read anywhere,” said Sue Arrance. “I always give the kids the example of how I ready every morning, even as I’m drying my hair.”

“And it never stops, you read all through your life,” said Johneen Hoose, a fifth-grade AIS teacher. “That was why we had the sports figures come in to share with the kids that, even if you do sports, you still should be reading.”

“(The PARP program showed that) when you read, not only do you get prizes, but there are a lot of other incentives. You get smarter and it’s fun. It was just a good way for our school to come together and really have fun,” said Nutt.

To see pictures of Fenner students participating in PARP program activities, go to www.falconerschools.org/elementary, and click on the link to the school’s PARP website.