by Becky GINOS
FARMINGTON—Students in Mrs. Cannon’s second grade class at Farmington Elementary lit up when some special visitors came to read with them last week. A group of ninth-graders from neighboring Farmington Junior High were matched with a child to begin a month-long writing project that will culminate in a personalized book to be given to each student.
The second-graders shared the books they wrote and illustrated themselves with the ninth-graders who will then write, illustrate, publish and bind an original book that they will deliver to the elementary kids in a few weeks.
“It’s super nice to have an assignment that you literally can’t make a mistake on,” said Farmington Junior High English teacher Karen Stoddard. “It’s nice to have an audience. Who wants to write for just me?”
Stoddard’s class is also working with North Davis Preparatory and a school in Africa. “We’ve adopted a school in Ghana called Nurturing Nations,” she said. “We’ll be adding to their library and sending 40 to 50 books to them. The students have been learning about the African kids.”
The writing project has been going on at the junior high for about four years. “They never fight me on it,” said Stoddard. “In over 1,000 kids I’ve never had a student not finish (this project). The key to making this work is having a real audience. Kids get tired of writing for their teachers.”
The second grade students have been working on their “bare books” for about a month, said teacher Ruth Cannon. “We teach them writing principles and then they get their book and we hope they have the knowledge to put it together.”
Illustrating the books is a bit stressful for some of the students, said Stoddard. “Not all of them have art skills, but seeing these kids’ illustrations help.”
Cannon said her second-graders love working with the junior high kids. “We look forward to it, then we go to the junior high after they finish their books. It’s a fun experience to take the kids over there and walk around a bit and get familiar with the junior high.”