Hillside Elementary students Jazz up reading contest
Reading is important to students at Hillside Elementary, and their participation in the Utah Jazz reading program showed their commitment. During the annual reading contest that ran from mid-February through mid-March, Hillsidestudents read for more than 358,679 minutes.
The school was one of the top 20 participating schools in the state and earned a basketball signed by Utah Jazz players for the students’ efforts.
Hillside Elementary first grade teacher and interim Principal Jolynn Koehler said the program helps students see the fun in reading.
“We’re always trying to find ways to keep our students reading,” she said. “When they read at home, they do better at school.”
This is the second time Hillsidehas been in the top 20 schools and the second basketball the school has received. Although Hillside didn’t make the top 10 and get a visit from a Utah Jazz player, the school administration wanted to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and decided to have an assembly.
Each teacher was given a can of silly string in a brown paper bag to use at a designated time during the assembly. The silly assembly left students covered in silly string and feeling appreciated for their contributions to the contest.
During the assembly, students and teachers with the most reading minutes were given awards such as Utah Jazz tickets. In addition to the silly string incident, many of the teachers also produced a video called “The HillsideShake” that was shown to students.
“The video was our chance to show our students how proud we are of their accomplishments,” Koehler said. “Our student teachers from the University of Utah took on the responsibility of doing the video, and we’re so pleased with how it turned out.”
Koehler said this year’s contest was even more successful than last year and weekly reading minutes continued to grow each week. To encourage the students to read more, each teacher assigned reading as part of their homework.
“This contest has been very successful in the past because our students get excited about the Utah Jazz connection,” she said. “We also post the minutes for every student, which motivates the children to keep reading.”
Keeping Hillside’s students reading is a high priority for the school. Koehler said the school’s administration is always looking for contests and opportunities for students to be motivated to keep reading outside of school.
“For a contest like this, everyone has to work together,” she said. “The children have to read, parents have to verify the reading and teachers have to log it in. We know it’s a little extra work for everyone, but the teamwork brings our community together to help children read.”