HOLIDAY — Jessy Jones, a second-grade student at Gulf Trace Elementary School, spins elaborate stories for friends and family at home, sometimes make-believe and sometimes centered around events from her life.
For her birthday later this month, she asked her mother for a journal to record some of these stories. So when Jessy was chosen as a featured author in her classroom last week, her mother was proud but not surprised.
“She reads all the time and she is such a storyteller,” said Jessy’s mom, Lisa Jones. “She keeps journals at home and she is always writing in them.”
This is the third time Jessy has been chosen as a featured writer at her school — once each year that she’s attended. Teachers choose four student authors from each classroom on a quarterly basis who represent the best examples of writing based on that quarter’s assignments and the student reads his or her work in front of their classmates, teacher and family members, who are invited for the reading.
“They’re getting to listen to good examples of what other kids write,” said second-grade teacher Adrienne Richrath. “Reading examples from a textbook is not the same as listening to another child’s writing. This is something they can relate to on their own level.”
This quarter, Jessy’s classmates were working on personal narratives, true stories from their daily lives. Jessy chose to write about her trip to Lowry Park Zoo’s “Zoo Boo” Halloween event for kids.
She described seeing “lots of crazy stuff” in the mazes at the zoo in Tampa and afterward, another student asked her what kinds of things she saw.
“Dead stuff and blood,” Jessy replied, shrugging her shoulders.
Her mother groaned.
“Say ‘scary stuff,’ ” Jones told her daughter.
Each student started out in the media center where a group photo was taken of the authors from each grade level, then they were asked to sign an “author autograph sheet” that would be displayed there with the photo. From there, the students led their parents back to their class and prepared to present their story and listen to their classmates’ stories.
The author readings serve not only as recognition for good work, but fulfil common core requirements for listening and presenting, said Gail Fedechena, an information, communication and technology literacy coach at the school.
“We do this quarterly so hopefully most students will get recognized at some point as being an author,” Fedechena said.
After Jessy presented her story, Richrath asked her classmates to draw a picture of a scene from the story. They also took turns complimenting Jessy with examples of their favorite parts of her trip.
“If you were the illustrator, what picture would you see in your mind as she reads?” Richrath asked.
The room went quiet and the sound of pencil scribbles took over until the next young author read their work.
Future author celebrations are scheduled for Jan. 15, March 27 and May 22.