“Not often are we classroom teachers afforded the opportunity to change the learning
environment. I am delighted my local GAE affiliate-Rome City Association of Educators has
provided me a unique moment to take student learning outside of the block walls that confine so
many of our day-to-day lessons.
As a recipient of the first annual RCAE Read Across America grant, I first used the funds to
promote literacy by purchasing texts and springboarded ideas from the texts to allow students
to discover they can participate in their local community. By exploring the theme in The Lorax by
Dr. Seuss, students made text to world and self-connections to the importance of using natural
My fourth-grade students loved creating alternative endings to the beloved Dr. Seuss story while
using rhyme, exploring creative punctuation, and cliffhanger endings. In addition to the purchase
of texts, the RCAE grant also afforded me the funds to purchase trees for each of my classes. The
students are so excited and look forward to planting the trees on our school campus in a couple
of weeks! I am thankful my local association is reaching out and supporting its teachers and
— Ashley Hoban, Rome Middle School Teacher
up with the idea for the book
tasting after seeing a similar idea on Pinterest. A
book tasting is an event in which students get to sample many
different books in the hopes of finding a new genre to read or a new
author or book to read.
Many students get infatuated with one author, series or genre. While this is wonderful
because they are reading, there are two issues with this. The first is that reading is the best
model for writing and if students read in only one genre, they tend to write like that genre. So if they
read a lot of science fiction, for example, all their writing has a science fiction tone to it. The second is
that when students have exhausted a series, they don’t know what to read next and it either takes them
some time to find the next perfect book or they get disengaged from reading until a new book is found.
This is where the book tasting comes in. Books are set up in stations by genre and students visit the stations
and read a few pages of the books that they find there for a set time. As they find books that interest them,
students will write down the title and author of the book on a tag board bookmark that I provide to them or they
can take a picture of the book’s cover with their cell phone. At intervals, students will switch to a new station/
genre and repeat the process there. Next time students visit the media center, bookstore or their local library,
they will have a list of books that they are already interested in reading.
I am timing the event for close to the end of the school year so that students will have books they are
interested in to read over the summer, a time when a lot of slippage occurs because students are
not reading. My goal is to keep students reading over the summer and to get them fired up and
excited about reading. By introducing them to new authors, genres and series, perhaps I
can help to expand their world a little bit and create readers who have a love for the
written word and are on the path to becoming life-long readers.
AJ Stuart, Rome Middle School Teacher
& Book Tasting Creator
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