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Making Reading and Teamwork Fun

Image: The KDES Buff Team celebrated advancing to the nationals of the Gallaudet University Battle of the Books competition.

The KDES Buff Team celebrated advancing to the nationals of the Gallaudet University Battle of the Books competition.

Gallaudet University hosted its annual "Battle of the Books" competition for middle school students, and the students at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) met the challenge. The event is designed to promote literacy and encourage critical thinking skills. Students from 30 schools across the country competed in three divisions in the preliminary and playoff rounds held in January 2014.

KDES entered two teams in the competition. "The Battle of the Books competition encourages independent student reading and student-to-student teamwork," said KDES teacher and contest supervisor Liza Offreda. "The students read the books at home, then during school the teammates met several times a week to discuss the books." Each team developed questions and notes to be shared with their teammates to help prepare one another for the competition. 

KDES vs. READS school

The KDES teams were assigned to different divisions, with one competing in the Buff division and the other in the Blue division. Each of the contestants read their assigned books and then discussed them together. The Blue team read: Ninth Ward, American Born Chinese, and See You at Harry's. The Buff team read Wonder, The Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet, and Esperanza Rising. "I loved reading the books. My challenge was in memorizing all the character names and their roles in the books," said eighth grader Eliyas Assefa.

The Buff and Blue teams competed in the Preliminary round on January 15. The contest consisted of three rounds of questions. Eighth grader Jennida Willoughby found the third round, during which the contestants must stand up and narrate the book to the judges, to be the hardest part.

The second round of the competition, held on January 31, had a different format. Each of the KDES teams responded to questions about the books from Gallaudet judges via videophone. Based on their final score as compared with the 20 other schools who participated in their division, the KDES Buff team was able to advance to the national competition, which will be held at Gallaudet University from May 3-6, 2014.

Blue Team Confers

When asked what was his favorite part about participating in the contest, eighth grader Noah Spinosi said with a beaming smile, "Making KDES proud of us."