Posted Date: 06/03/2022
COPPERAS COVE, TX (May 24, 2022)—Field days and awards ceremonies fill the last few days of the school but progressing students academically throughout the school year is the ultimate goal.
House Creek Elementary third grade teacher Jennifer Farnum understands the importance of determining her students’ reading levels and chose a tasty way to do it. Farnum turned her classroom into The Little Italy Pizzeria to help students review and apply the reading skills they have learned this year.
“The teaching team wanted to provide the students with a fun-filled activity to review third grade reading skills,” Farnum said. “This specific room transformation was not only enjoyable, but it also provided students with rigorous literacy activities that connected directly to real-world experiences.”
Pizza-themed literacy stations complete with pizza boxes, activity menus, and Italian table decorations, challenged students to complete a variety of tasks involving reading poetry, analyzing photographs, writing a mini-business proposal, and building a main idea pizza with “slices” of details. The room transformation promoted student collaboration, hands-on exploration, and playful imagination.
"I like that we decorated the room,” said student Hannah Flower, 9. “It makes the room look really cool and it looks like a real restaurant. We got to build our own pizza through reading."
Students were required to review various reading skills learned in third grade, including identifying the main ideas and supporting details of a passage, comparing and contrasting texts, and analyzing the elements of a poem.
“My favorite part of this experience was just how much the students enjoyed working through the various tasks,” Farnum said. “The children were highly engaged and motivated to complete all the challenges. They collaborated well and maneuvered through the experience independently and effectively. They had so much fun.”
The activity focused on review work, so students had a good grasp of the content. With support from their team members, they were able to complete the tasks successfully with little help from the teacher and they completed it in record time. Two hours, which is the daily amount of time allotted in the school day to reading, was planned for the task. But students finished early toward the end of the reading activity displaying all they had successfully mastered this school year.
"I think it's really cool that [the activity] is pizza-related,” said student Briana Hightower, 9. “It's helping us collaborate a little more because we have to work with partners.”
Farnum said she was surprised at just how well the students managed the activity on their own.
“The students were able to complete the activity independently and seemed to experience a lot of pride as they continued to have each challenge signed off by the teacher,” Farnum said. “Of course, there were a few arguments among team members. They are still learning how to divide work equally and keep each other on-task. They were having great discussions about the content and staying mostly on-task while also laughing, moving, and just being kids.”