School Spotlight: Greenwood Elementary
Take one step into Lindsay Sullivan's fifth-grade class at Greenwood Elementary in Plymouth and you'll see a group of students quietly fixated on storybooks. In fact, the only sound in this class is that of Mrs. Sullivan discussing plot points of books with students.

These book discussions are part of Greenwood's mission to encourage kids to be lifelong readers.

"We do a great job of choosing books for kids that we know are going to engage them and maybe see a world that they didn't think could happen, in a book," Sullivan said.

The older kids aren't the only ones involved in book talks, even the first graders are taught how to talk to one another about books they've read.

"There's been this grassroots effort to invest in book talks, which is kind of a fancy way of saying, 'talking about books' that you love," said Brad Gustafson, Greenwood's principal.

Gustafson isn't joking about the school's focus on book talks.

Greenwood created Twitter hashtags #GWgreats and #GWreads. Search the hashtags and you'll find videos of students talking about their favorite books.

Teachers say the book talks have helped students develop a passion for reading.

"It was very authentic in a way that it was like me going up to my friend saying 'Hey, you should read this book, it's such a great book for you and you might relate to it in this way,'" said third-grade teacher Sarah Larson, referring to book talks. "And I think just having those discussions and having those talks has really helped foster that community of reading."

Videos and social media aren't the only tools they use at Greenwood to help with learning. The students have access to carts called, "mobile maker spaces," that are stocked with things like Play-Doh and yarn.

"These carts that can be checked out like library books, and kids and staff can check them out at any time and it will support the curriculum, or sometimes it's just used to support the passion and genius the kids have," Gustafson said.

The kids also have a Lego wall they can utilize to build block versions of their favorite book covers.

The hope is that when the roughly 800 students in grades K-5 leave Greenwood and transition to middle school that they'll fall in love with learning.  Ask a few students about their thoughts on Greenwood, and you'll get a sense of how much they enjoy it.

"It's just awesome," said Ellie Oare, a fourth-grader. "It's like, maybe the best school I've ever been to."

"I like everything about this school, it's awesome," said Rowan Rubin, a fifth grader. "This is my third school, and this has been my favorite so far."

Delane Cleveland

Dec. 14, 2017


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