A book a day keeps boredom at bay

Tomorrow is the end of the third quarter marking period at Giffen Elementary School in Albany — but today was a day for nice surprises. Each first- and second-grader was presented with a book of their own, a box of pencils, and a cardboard “Cat in the Hat” hat to celebrate Read Across America.

“It’s like Christmas to them!” said first grade teacher Kimberly Cirigliano, a member of the Albany Public School Teachers Association. The books fit in well with the district-wide reading curriculum, which is defined by a five-point reading plan: Word worth; reading to self every day; reading to someone else every day; listening to reading; and working on writing.

The books were a gift from NYSUT and the Al Tabari Temple of the Shriners in Albany, whose members came to hand out the books.

As students listened to a reading of “Amazing Spiderman,” Cirigliano, who goes by “Miss C,” interjected thoughts and questions.

“Is this book fiction or nonfiction? Do you think this can be real?”

“Noooooo,” the student answered.

“But it’s fun!” said Miss C.

She stopped the reading several times to focus on details in the writing, something the students are learning to do this year. When young Peter goes to bed, Miss C. asks her students: “How does he know it’s time to go to bed?”

Behind her, she has projected information about Dr. Seuss on the SMART board, which is faced by a mounted projector. She wrote and received a $10,000 grant for technology for the first grade equipment, which was awarded from the district’s technology program. Cirigliano said the students use the interactive, computer white board frequently, working on new Common Core math modules along with other subjects.

Next door, in one of many hallways flush with student artwork, first grade teacher Monica Waller was beaming at the gifts of books her students received. The book “I Love School” was read to them and students determined it to be realistic fiction. In this story, students are from several different countries, so Cirigliano will use the book to help her students find China, South Africa and Italy on the globe.

“We will also look at the similarities between how they do things in the classroom compared to us,” Waller said.

The gift books came from First Book, a not-for-profit organization that connects book publishers with community organizations and schools to provide new books for children in need. The American Federation of Teachers , a NYSUT national affiliate, is one of the partners with First Book,which provides fiction and nonfiction books on girl empowerment, global studies, STEM, adventure , folktales, cultural exploration and other types of tales.

This week, books are getting a lot of needed attention as literacy comes into focus during the Read Across America celebration sponsored by the National Education Association, a NYSUT national affiliate.

First-grader Ivy came forward at the end of the surprise visit, eyes sparkling, to show off her new book. “It even has a CD with it,” she said. “I can listen to it at home!”

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