This post will be published in The Solon Economist sometime in December 2020
I loved the student-led questions and discussion format. Also loved the inclusive nature of the event. Everyone can participate!”
Members of the Solon community have many opportunities to see students demonstrating their skills - singing, dancing, running cross country, throwing a football, swinging a bat, playing a musical instrument. In addition to the multitude of extracurricular offerings, there is also a chance for parents, neighbors and any interested adults to interact directly with students in an academic setting through the Community Read program, organized by Solon High School science teacher, Dawn Posekany.
Since the 2012 launch of the program with Rebecca Skloot's book, THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, dozens of students in Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology and Botany classes have participated in a unique academic experience that challenges learners to read a nonfiction book, research topics and themes using primary and secondary sources and then lead a group discussion with adults from many different backgrounds.
“Students are hungry for knowledge and the community is too. There should be more kinds of this activity.”
Collaboration with other district staff has been an important element of the project. Posekany has worked with the district’s teacher librarian to integrate Common Core reading, writing, speaking and listening standards and she organized a 2019 project partnering 5th graders with 9th grade Language Arts students to read the middle school fiction book WISHTREE by Katherine Applegate.
Each book selection acts as a powerful jumping off point for learning how to use scholarly databases and how to identify credible online resources. The project also provides a natural opportunity to incorporate the expertise of local experts, such as that of Chris Buresh, MD who shared his experience in Haiti with the students who were reading MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS and with authors, such as Seth Mnookin who video chatted with students who were delving into the topic of immunization while reading his book, THE PANIC VIRUS.
“It got us involved with the community in a project that lets us show our academic side as well.”
For the last 8 years, students have also found this multi-layered assignment to be valuable in a number of ways. A review of student surveys consistently indicates that although the prospect of being in charge of a discussion with adults was sometimes daunting, it was appreciated as a distinctive learning experience. Students also acknowledged the importance of understanding how to navigate the sometimes intimidating collection of scholarly tools critical for high quality research.
Two local organizations have been integral to the success of the Community Read program. Since 2013, the Solon Education Foundation, through its investments and donations has funded the purchase of classroom sets of the selected titles and the Solon Book Club has been an active ally, with members reading the books and participating in the student-led discussions.
Most recently, the Solon Education Foundation along with donors Dr Patrick W. McGonagill and Molly funded the purchase of multiple copies of Bill Bryson’s book, THE BODY. Students enrolled in the current Anatomy and Physiology class will facilitate small group discussions on Thursday, December 17th from 12:30-1:30 with two more events in January on the 7th and 14th at the same time.
Be a part of this project and help Solon High School students demonstrate their academic skills during a live discussion session. Even if you don't get a chance to read the book, anyone is welcome to participate. Link to the Zoom will be available by emailing a request to Mrs. Posekany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retired SCSD School librarian and Solon Education Foundation board member
A first person testimonial
Kaitlin Hatcher is a first year science teacher at Solon High School. As a Solon High School alumni, she was in an Anatomy and Physiology class that participated in the Community Read project.
Let me start by saying this project is just invaluable! As a student it was so great to be able to interact with community members and people outside of the classroom. As students we are together all the time and we constantly bounce ideas off of each other, so it was a great experience to be able to hear other thoughts and input from outside of just our classroom. It was also so important to be exposed to completing scholarly research and really digging into scientific studies and journals. This was one of the first times I had done research in peer-reviewed journals about a deep science topic. This was a really valuable experience for me going into college.
From a teacher perspective the value of this project is ten-fold for our students. It is great to get students reading in a science classroom. Literacy is such a foundational skill and practice that it is so important to be building that for our students in all subjects, not just their English classes. I had an entire course at The University of Iowa about the importance of literacy in the classroom regardless of the subject or content and this project is a prime example of doing just that. Furthermore, through reading the book and then reading journals and articles the students are exposed to multiple forms of science information. This was the first time I had read a book about science other than a text book. Reading books in this community read in high school sparked my love for science books. Learning science information from reading doesn't always have to be dry like it typically is in text books. Some science authors give their own character and voice to discussion of topics like Ebola or evolution and it makes reading about these topics accessible for students AND community members. Furthermore, the community discussion exposes students to community members and allows students to make connections with community members that are interested and invested in their education. The discussion also requires students to do prior research and to be prepared to lead the discussion and contribute their gained knowledge.
Finally, as a person that is passionate about science education FOR EVERYONE and the importance of science literacy for society, I think this project is so valuable for the students and community members too. Allowing community members to read the book alongside students and to then participate in a scientific discussion has the possibility to stir up discussions of other important and relevant science topics within the community. I think this also displays to the students that science is still important, relevant, and something people are interested in outside of the science classroom and science fields.
This is a project I would love to use in my own classroom in the future years regardless of the science course (biology, anatomy, chemistry, etc.). I would love to give even more students the experience and opportunity.
SHS Science 2020-2021
1C Students at Lakeview Elementary would like to thank you for the big books for our 1st-grade classroom. The students love reading these books to each other during our reader's workshop. We can't thank you enough for providing us with engaging activities for the classroom. Thanks for making Lakeview a better place to learn and grow!
1C Students & Mrs. Reiter 2021-2022
Solon Math & Science Boosters
Solon Math & Science Boosters, an SEF 501(3)(c) partner, recently distributed the following awards to 2020 graduates whose science fair entries placed during their time at SHS.
The checks were delivered by Booster chairperson, Tom Gross.
Gabbi Bullard: Spring 2018, 2nd place, $75.00 - Effect of light on spinach aging
Braxton Hobbs: Fall 2019, 3rd place, $50.00 - The effect of surface type on blood spatter length and satellite drops Nico Longo: Spring 2017, 1st place, $100.00 - The effect of insulation type on heat retention
* Rodney Wittich: Spring 2019, 1st place, $100.00 - The effect of the amount of wood pulp in ice on durability and melting speed
For the great job she did communicating the importance of her SEF grant via social media, Jenny Noonan, 7th and 8th grade Language Arts instructor has been awarded a $150 Amazon gift card to supplement the purchase of books for her classroom project. Congratulations Jenny!
Do you care about the Solon Community School District and want to make a difference?
The board is currently recruiting supporters of the Solon Community School District to join the Solon Education Foundation Board as voting members.
The board meets 8-10 times per year to direct assets, administer the annual grant cycle and assist the SEF 501(c)(3) partners with their fund management. Your minimal commitment will make a big difference to SCSD teachers and students.
If you are interested, please contact a board member or email email@example.com
"My kindergarteners have been LOVING the Osmo’s. I knew that they would be engaging, but I never dreamed that they would go home and talk about them all night to their parents. I have 2 parents who are buying Oslo’s for their kids for Christmas because they talk about it so much at home. Thank you for this opportunity. I (and KE friends!) really appreciate it!"
Lakeview Kindergarten teacher, Samantha Brimeyer
SEF board member Tom Gross presents gardening tools to Ms. Posekany’s High school botany class. Shout out to Lowe’s for the school and community discount.
The SEF board's October meeting was held in the new Solon Middle School's Media Center.
Thank you again...
Thank you again for the funding to allow my program to be able to purchase Read Naturally. My students have enjoyed the stories they get to choose from and learn. Within the program the students try to increase their rate of reading and improve their comprehension. I am using the program with 6 students and each of them have increases their fluency in reading.
With a simple click, you can earn cash for SEF by shopping using smile.amazon.com
To date, AmazonSmile has donated a total of: $1,125.46 to the Solon Education Foundation.
Greetings from the executive board at the November meeting.
January 2019th SCSD District update features the Solon Education Foundation!
November 27th board meeting with Superintendent Davis Eidahl
The SEF board was pleased to host SCSD Superintendent Davis Eidahl at its November meeting. Understanding the district's priorities will help SEF support students and staff.
"Thank you SO much for the SEF grant from first grade for the color printer! Attached is a photo of some students around the printer, surrounded by a plethora of color printed items we use and see every day. The first grade team and students are so grateful for this grant!"
We've raised $1,425 toward our goal!
First grade teacher Beth Kappmeyer received an SEF grant this school year to provide leveled readers that her students could easily take home in a bag with a handle. She shared these photos along with a note saying the kids and parents love them!
From the Solon Economist
The Career Tech department at Solon was awarded a SEF grant for the 2018-2019 school year. We utilized those funds to purchase a set of Bar Clamps to assist the students with completing their skills assessments and class projects. The improvements to quality of work and student learning has been wonderful.
One of the Critical Competencies of our department involves exposing students to tools and processes that they would encounter in career environments. Any student with an interest in woodworking, carpentry, homebuilding, facility maintenance, or other building trades will benefit from having access to the increasing variety of tools and accessories in our shop.
Thank you to your Foundation and all of its donors and sponsors for making these purchases possible for our departments. You are making a difference in our classrooms.
Keith Duster, SHS Career Technology