Professor Joanne Antrim’s Children’s Literature class spent the first three weeks of the semester writing curriculum guides for the Texas Book Festival Reading Rock Stars program. Her class of 20 kicked off the academic year knowing they were doing something directly beneficial for Austin-area elementary school students.
“They had the experience to read books and to develop lesson plans for them before these books were even released to the general public,” Antrim said.
The Reading Rock Stars program is a hands-on literacy initiative that sends nationally recognized authors into Title I Texas schools with the mission of inspiring young readers with dynamic presentations and sending them home with their own books. The Texas Book Festival funds and coordinates the author visits and donates the books to the children.
“The curriculum guides my students created goes to the teachers, and my students get invited to go to the school where their curriculum went,” Antrim explained.
Marissa Vargas, a student in Antrim’s class, explained how they worked through this assignment.
“In pairs, we built curriculum with everything from TEKS [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills] to the nitty gritty,” she said. “We created worksheets and crafts to go along with the material. Above and beyond all, we took steps to develop unique and special curriculum and perfect for the educators.”
The opportunity for the students to get the first look at these not-yet-released books was a huge perk. For example, do you know what happened to Humpty Dumpty after he had his big fall? Amy Brandon and Reagan Keller do.
“My partner and I got the book ‘After the Fall ( How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again)’ By Dan Santat,” Brandon said. “We built an egg drop experiment to go along with the worksheets because in his book, after the fall, Humpty’s shell cracked open to reveal a bird.”
All of Antrim’s students had very creative activities to accompany worksheets and other traditional lesson plans. One group, Raven Cato and Khadija Jawaid, developed learning materials for “La Princesa and the Pea,” a Spanish version of the classic “Princess and the Pea” story. They created a bilingual fly swatter game for the book to help teach students Spanish.
“Whatever words they know, they’ll swat on the board,” Cato said.
Another group of students used their curriculum to teach students how to be environmentally cautious. Their book, “Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony” by Matt de la Peña Crystal, ties to the plot of Pixar’s “Coco.”
“Our plan has them creating musical instruments out of recyclables to teach them how to reuse things,” Crystal Loyd said.
Ready for a fun title?
“Our book [Creepy Pair of Underwear, by Aaron Reynolds] was on overcoming fears for kindergarteners,” Cami Kempf said. “We have this glow-in-the-dark block project, inspired by Pinterest, for the students to have fun with.”
Do any of these titles sound interesting to you? During this weekend's Texas Book Festival, you can meet the authors of the books, as well as several other renown writers. Check out the schedule for the Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 festival! Festival sessions take place in the Capitol building and in surrounding venues. See more details here.