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Running with Literacy


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Here are a few great ideas on how to support your school’s literacy and language focus.
Submitted by  Wendy Shol from Kent, Washington.


Background: Here are a few great ideas on how your physical education program can support your school’s literacy and/or whole language focus. Check these innovative methods out!

Move to Read

We have used this idea each year with great success! Once our expectations, rules, and routines are established at the beginning of the school year, we begin to incorporate more warm-ups, activities, and stations that include written directions.

Examples: These written directions can be on the whiteboard, butcher paper, index cards, sentence charts, station whiteboards, sentence strips inside pringle cans, scavenger hunt fitness games, and on floor tape to mention a few.

If our students have difficulty reading the directions, we pair them with a stronger reader. Often we will determine the students in our class squads by getting input from the classroom teachers regarding the students’ reading ability.

PS: By the way, the classroom teachers will love it when they realize you are also interested in promoting literacy!


The Gym Library

Background: A library in the gym? Why not! Ours is placed in a corner of the gym. Sports books are displayed in a large pocket chart on the wall. My class assistants are responsible for rotating the books on an “as needed” basis during the school year.

For example, Fall brings us books on football and soccer; Winter has a focus on sports such as ice skating, snow boarding, basketball; Spring has golf, baseball, track and field; and Summer brings swimming, water skiing, etc.

Other Ideas: We also display books during specific seasonal celebrations such as Black History month (February) or Physical Education & Sport month (May). Kids are always interested to read about famous sports figures (e.g., Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan).

- If you want to give your gym library a special touch, add a couple of sports beanbag chairs.

- Ask your PTA to help donate books or search the Goodwill stores and garage sales for great buys.

- Ask your librarian to help you cover the books for added protection.

- How about reading a book yourself and displaying your weekly book choice for the students? If so, make sure it’s one that is in your school library so students have access to it.

- We use the small paper back books for 2-3 minutes at the end of class for K-2 graders before sending them back to the classroom.


Sports Reading Club

Background: Book clubs and commercial reading activities are everywhere! They are connected with sports teams, Starbucks and other coffee shops, as well as “Read Across America,” just to mention a few.

How We Did It: With the help of our school librarian, we have established a “Sports Reading Club” in association with our Accelerated Reader program. For our Sports Reading Club, we created a 10-question test for the sports books that did not have an established test. Now if any student reads a sports book and scores 80 percent or better on the test, a form is filled out by the librarian with the student’s name and point value received from the book. The form is shared with me and posted on our “Sports Reading Club” bulletin board.

Going for the Gold! Each sports reader is given a tennis shoe for the board and their total reading points are kept and displayed on the shoe. For every 5 AR points a student earns, they receive a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Medal Certificate and a Pizza Hut reading coupon. Once they complete 15 points, we start the medal sequence again. Last year we had students who earned 4 Gold Medals! The top readers receive special recognition at the end of the year during the school awards assembly.

Book List: Here’s a short list of sports books we have used in the past.

- Picture Book of Jackie Robinson (David Adler)
- Strong Right Arm, The Story of Mamie Johnson (Michelle Green)
- Inch and Miles, The Journey to Success (John Wooden)
- Essential BMX (Scholastic)
- Generation Next (Sports Illustrated)
- Mama Played Baseball (David Adler)
- Mia Hamm (Sean Adams)
- Miss Nelson Has a Field Day (James Marshall)

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