Relax & Read

Northside fourth graders (front to back)  Alanah Verduzco, Sara Meismer, Faith Riga, Riott Cogburn and Gage Semour. Ainsley Shoquist read during class as part of Beanstack, a reading program that enables students to log in to record their reading time, as well as give a review of the book they are reading. They can also earn rewards. All students are in Meagan Dorris’ classroom. Both fourth and fifth graders are participating in the reading program.

New to the staff at Northside Elementary is librarian Cynthia Maffett, but she’s not the only thing that’s new to the campus. Introduced last month, fourth and fifth grade students began participating in Beanstack, a digital reading program that has enabled kids to log their reading time and earn digital badges as well as other rewards.

“Our campus is the only one participating in the program,” Maffett said. “This is a way for kids to record their reading and earn incentives.”

Most recently, a drawing was held in which kids were rewarded for their reading success.

“Five students from each grade earned a token to get a book from the book vending machine,” Maffett said.

According to Maffett, the campus purchased the reading program last year for the 2021-22 school year.

Northside students are challenged to spend time reading each day with the goal of at least 600 minutes during the month.

“The goal is for each student to read 20 minutes on average a day,” she said. “Students can go online and record the minutes and the title of the book.”

Also, during the month, teachers and Maffett can check on student progress.

“Periodically throughout the month, we can look for students that are on target,” she said. “They receive a small reward.”

Students can also write reviews of the books they’ve read, which Maffett says is beneficial in two ways.

“Teachers can gauge students’ reading comprehension of a book with Beanstack,” she said.

The other benefit is fellow students can see what their friends are reading and read their book reviews.

Each month focuses on a theme, which correlates with activities students can complete online. September was “Back to School” and October is “Hallow-Read Around the World.”

The reward for October is a party.

“At the end of October, students who have reached the goal of 600 minutes will have a party ... they will get to play bingo and have prizes,” Maffett said.

Currently, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, is being celebrated as Hispanic Heritage Month, and students can participate in activities found on the Beanstack website that “center around the theme.”

Students can also take part in the Bluebonnet Reading Challenge now through January, another tool that is encouraging students to read.

“The Bluebonnet Reading Challenge is tied to the Texas Library Association.” she said. “There is a list of books the association recommends.”

Students can check out books at the school library or the El Campo Branch Library. They can read whatever book they choose, however if needed, teachers and Maffett can offer suggestions.

The Beanstack reading program will continue until the end of the school year. It is comparable to another program elementary students once participated in, according to Maffett.

“We used to do Excellerated Reader where kids take online quizzes after reading the book,” she said.

So far, the new reading program is going well.

“I think they are enjoying it,” Maffett said. “It’s new for them and therefore exciting to them.”

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