‘Author Days’ showcases second-graders with an inspiring message
Jun 20, 2018
PA Cyber grant does wonders for students’ growth and development
Last fall, when second-grade teacher Jordan Canavesi applied for and won a PA Cyber Teacher Initiated Education, or TIE, grant, she shot high. Her goal was to get her students reading and writing, while making them feel as though they were making a difference in the world.
Not only did she get her students to write a book about spreading kindness in the world, but she also helped them gain confidence by showcasing them during “Author Days”at Barnes & Noble bookstores, where they read their stories aloud.
She based the project on “Wonder,” the book and Oscar-nominated movie about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with facial defects who braves the classroom after having been homeschooled his whole life. Pullman gives the audience a glimpse of what it’s like to go through life looking different, but not really being different at all.
“This was a great story to help teach my students kindness and confidence,” Canavesi said, “while, achieving essential educational goals in writing, reading, organizing, and public speaking! Writing is a tough subject for young students. They find it difficult to narrow their ideas and find the “right words” to say what they mean. Many parents have a hard time helping them along in this subject so this activity helped the parents as well.”
The grant allowed Canavesi to send each student the children’s illustrated version of the book, “We’re All Wonders,” along with a letter and invitation to “change the world’s eye” through writing.
“I met a few times each month with the students who accepted the invitation,” Canavesi said. “In addition to coaching them through the writing process, we talked about why they were writing their book and the messages they wanted to convey. It was a great experience for all of us, including the parents working with them at home! It takes a special parent to go above and beyond the normal workload to really make a HUGE impact in their child’s life.”
Once the children finished their books, complete with illustrations, Canavesi arranged for the resources for the student to bind their books, through the Student Treasures, making the second-graders full-fledged authors. They also received a “Choose Kind” t-shirt to complement their achievement. The project culminated over the Memorial Day weekend when the children read their books aloud at Barnes & Noble locations in Cranberry Township and Camp Hill.
“This is a perfect example of how we like to see TIE grants applied,” PA Cyber CEO Brian Hayden said. “Jordan created an opportunity to expand upon student interest and achievement in conjunction with what is already being taught in the classroom.”
“The grant really made a difference in their lives and mine as well,” Canavesi said. “Children are not often given the chance to public speak and express themselves in a live setting. Many times, our kids are expressing themselves through media, which isn’t always a ‘bad thing,’ but being able to stand in front of people that you don’t know and communicate is an experience unlike any other and one that is often undervalued in today’s world. I was glad we were able to provide the opportunity to them.
The TIE grant uses federal funding to award teachers the opportunity to expand classroom experiences that help build a foundation for success. Although some funds may be used to support the professional development necessary to implement the project, the majority of grant funds must be spent on material(s) and/or the educational experience for students.
“In the cyber-school world, many think it’s impossible or improbable to build a relationship with students or with teachers, I can attest to the fact this is far from the truth. Building relationships, building tiny humans, and emphasizing kindness and confidence in a world that many times does the opposite - is exactly what happens in my cyber classroom. Relationships and bonds are created that will last for a very long time. By reading and writing the book, they created something bigger than themselves, something for future students to enjoy as well. Hopefully, the program will be offered once again next year and expanded to reach even more students – that’s my goal,” she said.
Casie Colalella / email@example.com
About PA Cyber
Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.