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Parkway Libraries Teaches About Becoming American

Parkway School District has been selected to participate in the National Endowment for the Humanities We the People Bookshelf program. Each Parkway library will receive 18 new books to be used in programs starting next fall. The programs will utilize the books Becoming American theme to teach Parkway students what it is like to move to the United States. "One challenge we faced when applying to the We the People Bookshelf program was to come up with plans to incorporate the books into all grade levels, since each library receives all 18 books," explains Carol Kohnen, coordinator of library media. "So we proposed programs that included peer teaching between high school students and elementary students, and challenged high school students to read and review all of the books." At the elementary school level, high school English as a Second Language (ESL) students will peer teach to fourth and fifth graders, comparing their experience of coming to the U.S. with experiences in the book Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman. Kindergarten through third graders will listen to current and former ESL students read one of the books and share their experiences of "Becoming American." At the middle school level, students will attend a presentation by guest speakers who are recently naturalized Americans. Students will read four of the books and write a summary comparing the concept of "Becoming American" in each book with the experiences of the guest speakers. At the high school level, freshmen will read several books, including children's and middle school books, and write a review or create an artwork describing or illustrating how the themes of freedom and "Becoming American" are expressed in the book. A new library webpage will display the projects. Those students who complete the challenge will take a field trip to the Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse where they will lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a Naturalization Ceremony. They will have the opportunity to ask questions of the judge who administers the oath and will meet some of their new fellow Americans. All schools will prominently display the Bookshelf books throughout the 2006-2007 school year.