In October, Ray Middle School launched its new Hot Topics Literacy Club. It's a hands-on, after-school club that provides reading and writing instruction through topics that students are most interested in.
The program, developed by Ray reading teachers Pat Sentoff, Karen Kissock and Cherrill Scuderi, was funded with a $750 literacy grant that they were awarded from the Central New York Teaching Center.
Students are more likely to be motivated to read when they're interested in the topic of the reading material, so the teachers surveyed Ray's students for their input. The most popular topics students said they're interested in are roller coasters, sports, dangerous seas, bikes of all types and video games. The club, which currently has about 30 members, will meet 11 times to read about these subjects. The teachers have lined up guests to speak to the club, and they're arranging field trips that relate to the topics.
On a recent October afternoon, Ray's library was quietly humming with student activity as members of the literacy club read about and discussed bikes of all types. Several students curled up on a couch with their books, while others made themselves comfortable in the chairs of the library's cozy reading nooks to look through bike magazines. Another group of students surfed the Internet on the library's computers to find information.
Sixth-graders Luke Spagnola and Sam Gosson, along with their friend seventh-grader Justin Wasielewski, settled into a corner to look through several magazines.
"We love bikes and all the stuff that goes with them," Wasielewski said, referring to bicycle accessories such as helmets and other gear.