Travels, authors' visits lead pupils to reading Awards: Two teachers, one in elementary and one in middle school, find creative ways to encourage their pupils to read for fun and for life.

October 25, 1998|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

It was on the trip home from Alaska, after a 15,000-mile journey over 27 days, that Elizabeth Ceanfaglione came up with the idea.

As a teacher at Stoneleigh Elementary School in Baltimore County, Ceanfaglione was always looking for ways to encourage her third-grade class to read more.

Why not, she thought, have members of the class log the miles that they traveled over their summer vacations, add them up and challenge the class to read that many pages in any books they choose.

"It was the trip of a lifetime, and I guess I was inspired by it," Ceanfaglione said of her August 1997 trip from her Cedarcroft home to Alaska, Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean.

Her pupils collectively logged 40,000 miles that summer of 1997 -- and met their goal of reading 40,000 pages in slightly more than four months. By the end of the school year, they had read 135,729 pages, she said.

Based on the collective summer travels of this year's third-grade class, the initial goal is to read 73,012 pages, she said.

This year the class has read 13,000 pages, with its progress updated Thursdays on a classroom bulletin board.

"Kids read at different reading levels and this allows every child to be successful at his or her own level," Ceanfaglione said.

Ceanfaglione also holds annual reading sleep-overs in the school library, invites guest readers to the class and takes her class once a year to the Baltimore County Courthouse in Towson for a mock trial based on a favorite book.

"The whole emphasis is that you should be reading, that reading is something you should do for pleasure and that it's a lifelong skill," she said.

For her work, Ceanfaglione was one of two teachers recognized Thursday by the Maryland Council of Teachers of English Language Arts for operating an outstanding reading program.

Sharon Freedman, a sixth-grade English teacher at Pikesville Middle School and the other award recipient, was recognized for supervising a program that over the past 17 years has brought a writer of fiction for young adults into the school for three days of talks and autograph sessions.

Pupils at Pikesville Middle are challenged to read as many of the author's books as they are able to, with the incentive of having lunch with the author if they read all of his or her books.

"That can be quite a task because some of these authors can be pretty prolific," said Freedman.

She noted that many writers of fiction for young adults pen about 20 to 30 books.

Pikesville's program costs about $4,000 a year to fly in the authors, put them up at a hotel and pay their standard $1,000-per-day fee, she said. Costs are covered by the school PTA, which raises funds through book sales and contributions.

"One thing that keeps the program going is the parents love it because it gets the kids reading," Freedman said.

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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