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Story Walks; Promoting literacy, the outdoors, and exercise

March is upon us and many schools are celebrating National Reading Month by including many literacy activities throughout the month. This month is highly focused on literacy, while trying to find new ways to motivate students and to explore where reading can take us. The Copper Country Intermediate School District’s Literacy Coaches are helping to build upon the schools’ engagement efforts by providing each district with a resource from our growing Story Walk collection.

We know from research that motivation and engagement are critical for children when it comes to reading. If the activities do not bring some enjoyment, then students tend to see reading as a chore. The incentive to read should come from within, and things like prizes and stickers should be avoided. We have learned that research suggests that rewards tend to actually decrease motivation. Once rewards are attached to reading, students tend to read for the reward rather than for pleasure. Once that reward is discontinued, students may choose to read less frequently, but if we want to develop students’ internal desire to read, books and extra time to read are great examples of the kinds of rewards we want to offer to our students.

One strategy to engage students is by going on a Story Walk. Story Walks are popping up in outdoor locations throughout the country. The joy of reading in the outdoors is a wonderful experience for all ages. Story Walks are set up for walkers to read each laminated page of a story that are attached to stakes, which are installed along a walking path. This is a great way for readers to enjoy and interact with a story in an outdoor setting, while promoting physical activity.

The Copper Country ISD’s literacy coaches have been creating Story Walks for each of the 13 districts to use to highlight motivational and engaging activities. These resources will be available for rotation in all of our schools and can be available for family literacy events throughout the year. These resources, also available through the summer months through loan, can help combat the “summer slide.” Research shows that when students are exposed to as few as 10 books throughout the summer, they are more likely to show up to three months of gains rather than two months of loss if not exposed.

The Copper Country ISD is continuously demonstrating their investment into our local students’ literacy learning. Along with funding projects like Story Walks, the CCISD has recognized the need for, and added an additional literacy coach to the team, former second-grade Dollar Bay teacher, Kristen Kariainen. Her expertise and understanding of literacy needs for our students and teachers continues to be a valuable support provided by the ISD.

The Story Walks will be distributed and set up at our local schools. If you would like more information or would like to donate resources to extend this project, please contact Angela Elmblad (aelmblad@copperisd.org) or Kristen Kariainen (kkariainen@copperisd.org) at the CCISD.

StoryWalks were created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, in partnership with the Kellog-Hubbard Library.

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