‘Kids Doing Things for Kids’

Students Record Reading Books Aloud for Young Patients

Addysen VanderLaan and Owen Straight find it tough not to laugh when they read stories

Using grant-funded equipment to take video of students reading books aloud is giving some youngsters at Paris Ridge Elementary a way to practice verbal reading skills. It’s also helping a club for patients at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Elementary students give up their lunch hour to record the stories, learning to read with inflection and at the right speed. It also teaches them accuracy, stamina and fluency skills, says Jody Grantz, who works in the school’s media center.

Once finished, videos are shown to lower grades and sent to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for use in a daily school club for its young patients.

Students, Teachers and Hospital Love It

“I can’t put into words how excited the students and teachers are about this project,” says Grantz of the program she created that is in its second year. “I have students stopping me in the hall asking if they can read for me. Teachers thank me for giving their students such a valuable experience.”

Sarah Smith, teacher and educational liaison at the hospital, uses the theme of the books the students read to create lessons and activities for the hospital’s Club TBC (Taking Care of Business Club). The group is a daily activity held with other patients in a room designed as a classroom. “It gets something normal in their lives,” Smith says, adding “it’s a perfect fit for our program, and I can focus more on lessons that go with them.”

Grantz, who volunteered at the hospital, also thinks the story videos work well. “When they built the hospital they wanted art made by kids for kids,” she says. “I thought our project worked perfectly because it’s kids doing things for kids.”

Students Micah Nagel and Taylor Walter get excited about reading a book for the camera
Students Micah Nagel and Taylor Walter get excited about reading a book for the camera

Learning How to Speak for the Camera

It isn’t as easy as it sounds. Students can’t whip through the pages and be done, Grantz explained. They have to talk clearly and loud enough for the device to record their voice. If a student stumbles over a word, they start over. “We like to make sure to hit all the words in case kids are following in book,” she says.

Not laughing is a big thing students concentrate on, but “sometimes you have to,” says Micah Nagel, while recording a book.

The students take ownership of the their videos and work to make their reading perfect. “I think I want to do that again,” third-grader Owen Straight tells Grantz after recording a story recently. “That last part wasn’t right.” Micah admits she gets butterflies before reading. “A lot of people are going to see it.”

Smith appreciates the care they put into their work. “The quality of the videos really helps us to be able to pull this off,” she says.

Fourth-grader Taylor Walter says doing the recordings for the children’s hospital makes him feel good inside. “I like doing things like this to help kids in the hospital.”

By the end of the school year, Grantz expects students to have recorded 36 books. Paris Ridge Elementary received a grant from the Caledonia Education Foundation to purchase the iPad Air. The device also is used to perform poetry and other language arts activities.

CONNECT

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Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio

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