Strong Comprehension

“I heard you have been learning more about libraries around the world and how students get books in other countries,” said Kim Zackey, Fletcher Elementary School counselor. “Is it always easy like in the United States? No, you’ve found out that sometimes it’s very difficult for students. We have a special guest today, my husband Jordan who is from Liberia, which is on the west coast of Africa. He is going to share with you about his culture and also demonstrate African drumming. He will also tell you how he received books when he went to school in Africa.”

Zackey visited Fletcher Elementary School as part of the third-graders’ ELA module, which uses literary and informational text to introduce students to the power of literacy and how people around the world access books. Zackey shared his memories of his early school years and gave students a glimpse of African culture through a drumming demonstration.

“My school had 110 students in a class with just one teacher,” Zackey said. “The missionaries used to deliver books to the schools in my country. Books are so important to learning because the more time spent reading books, the better your vocabulary becomes and it also strengthens your comprehension. You need education everywhere, but especially in a country like Africa, in order to be successful in life.”

The third-grade ELA module intentionally incorporates social studies including world geography, maps and globes, how all people in a world community need to learn, the physical characteristics of a region and how it influences the culture and lifestyle of the people who live there. Third-grade teachers who are teaching the ELA module are: Ashley Calla, Mary Ellen Reynolds, Vicky Volpe, Rudi Andalora, Gail Heil, Erin Leone and reading teacher Molly Frushone.

The module asks students to: make connections between events, ideas or concepts in text, use information from maps and photographs to understand informational texts, document what they learn by taking notes, and write an informative/explanatory text. They are also asked to ask and answer questions using specific details from the text, identify the main message of a story using details and make connections between text and ideas to comprehend what they read.

“This way of learning really helps the students understand and identify the main message and supporting details of a text,” Calla said. “Our third-graders become ‘detectives’ while reading, searching for evidence and clues to help them comprehend the main idea of the story. Throughout our modules, students participate in many think sharing activities with their peers and communicate in small group settings. This allows students to share their thoughts and ideas about a text and make connections with each other. The students truly enjoyed this unit and learned a lot about other countries and the challenges that people have to overcome in order to gain the power of knowledge and reading. Mr. Zackey’s brought the module unit to life for the students.”