By Guest Blogger Kay McMurphy, a teacher in the Primary and Intermediate at Noble Academy
As a child growing up, I was an avid reader. In fact, the reason I became a teacher was to help other children learn to love reading as much as I love reading! In my years of teaching literacy at Noble Academy, I have realized that writing is just as important as reading. While reading provides entertainment, helps us gather new information, and helps us understand ourselves better in light of that knowledge, writing provides a way to express our own thoughts and feelings, and gives us a sense of worth in the midst of figuring out life. But even as I realized the importance of writing, teaching primary and intermediate students how to be writers and be excited about writing can be a daunting task. There are so many skills to teach that are part of the writing process that teachers and students get bogged down with the “work” of writing and miss out on the sense of joy and accomplishment of being an author.
Several years ago, Jordan Blodgett, a former teacher at Noble, introduced me to Studentreasures Publishing, a company that publishes books written by children. My students were inspired when they heard their stories would be published. They worked diligently to craft their stories, edit, and improve word choices. While creating the story, students learned the process of developing characters, developing a setting, and a creating a situation that would eventually be resolved by the end of the story. Once their stories were completed, they created their own illustrations to depict the action of their storyline. I was amazed at the attention to detail and effort that went into each of their illustrations. My students were serious about their work and were often disappointed when class ended because they were so engaged in the process.
Since that first book, I have continued to publish a classroom book, and this past school year six additional Lower School teachers also guided their students through the process. I had the privilege of being there when students received the books they had created, watched their faces light up, and felt their excitement and pride. As an added bonus, I arranged for our student authors to read their stories and poems to residents at Spring Arbor, a retirement center, in a community service project called “Pair and Share Day.” How exciting to see our students read their own stories to the residents! We have also received very positive feedback from parents who were happy to see the progress their child was making in literacy and be able to witness the growth in their confidence. It was with a sense of accomplishment that our struggling readers and writers shared their own work and felt the joy of finding their own voice.
Founded in 1987 by Ginger Parnell and Rita Rice Ledford, Noble Academy is Greensboro’s first – and only – full-time school dedicated to students with learning disabilities, and it continues to be an important resource to Greensboro and the surrounding area. Ms. Parnell and Ms. Ledford built Noble Academy, formerly known as Guilford Day School, to serve a need in our community that was not being met by the public or private schools in the area. The future of our communities, our country, and our world depends on our children. It is our duty as parents, educators and community members to cultivate our children’s minds to their fullest potential, as they will lead us into a productive, progressive future. At Noble Academy, we strongly believe that students with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorders are as likely to be tomorrow’s leaders as other students. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo da Vinci were creative thinkers who forever changed the way we view our world. All three had learning disabilities. Children with learning differences can learn anything, go anywhere and become anyone they want.
*Sponsored by Noble Academy