Principal Dodge from Fletcher Elementary School developed his Principal’s Challenges beginning last March when students began remote learning. They were a way for him to stay connected with students and families, and for them to continue to see him, as well as a way for him to support teachers’ work making connections to academics at home.
His latest challenge, the Dinosaur Book Challenge grew out of a desire to emphasize FWSU’s Big 4 goal of “Literacy Proficiency Focusing on WRITING as Effective Communication for ALL LEARNERS.” His challenges usually begin with a book that he reads aloud. For this challenge, he wanted to try to integrate some digital tools as a way to engage students more. He decided to use green screen technology so that he could immerse himself in a prehistoric world. Despite this being his first attempt at learning this new skill, it worked well and he was able to have fun. As we embrace our new learning environment that comes from remote learning, this was an effective way to model how to use new digital tools to help students learn.
The read-aloud portion of the video supports literacy in a variety of different ways. It allows the kids to watch as many times as they want. In addition, by connecting a writing challenge to the story, he was able to challenge kids to write a letter to a dinosaur, which is also the main component of the book. In the video, he talks about how writing is a great and fun way to communicate. So, he challenged students to write to Champ because the Vermont Lake Monsters have donated several Champ plush animals who are wearing baseball-themed masks. Every student who wrote a letter to Champ had their name placed and was entered into a drawing for the Champ “stuffies.” All students that participated received a latter on behalf of Champ, written by Mr. Dodge.
This latest challenge allowed him to build a love of writing in a really fun and engaging way that begins with a book that children could also find in the school library.