Timber Ridge volunteers quiz students for reading challenge

February 15, 2011

By Laura Geggel

A group of Issaquah Valley Elementary School girls — Alicja Vickers (from left), Kristin Caras, Zoe Hennings and Samantha Moore — answer quiz questions from Timber Ridge volunteers Joan and Bill Bergeson in preparation for the Global Reading Challenge. By Bob Ploss

For the past six weeks, about 70 students have spent their Friday afternoon recess in the library to review the nitty-gritty details of books.

For the second annual year, Issaquah Valley Elementary School students are prepping for the King County Library System’s Global Reading Challenge — a contest encouraging fourth- and fifth-graders to read 10 books and answer detailed questions about them.

For example, do students know where Brendan Buckley’s father works in “Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It,” by Sundee Frazier? Do they remember who the passengers were on the mystery plane in “Found,” by Margaret Peterson?

The answers are given in true-false or multiple-choice form, and only a careful reader would know the answers — a detective’s office and 36 babies, respectively.

“I know most of the questions,” fourth-grade student Sean Sterling said. “It gets my brain going.”

Senior volunteers from Issaquah’s Timber Ridge community think of questions and meet with Issaquah Valley students in the library. Each volunteer reads one book and sets up shop at a table. Students can choose which book they need to review, grab a seat next to a volunteer and munch on cookies as they answer quiz questions.

The partnership between Timber Ridge and Issaquah Valley coalesced three years ago when Timber Ridge resident Ann Browning began volunteering with the Issaquah Schools Foundation program VOICE — Volunteers Of Issaquah Changing Education.

Browning said she so enjoyed tutoring students that she began working with Issaquah Valley Principal Diane Holt to create more projects.

Last year, Issaquah Valley’s fifth-grade students made paper flowers that decorated the bulletin boards at Timber Ridge, and this year a group of students sang for Timber Ridge residents during the holiday season.

When Browning learned about the Global Reading Challenge, she asked her friends at Timber Ridge if they would coach Issaquah Valley students. In all, 13 volunteers, some of them husband-and-wife teams, agreed to help.

“It’s probably good for the kids, but it’s probably better for the seniors,” Timber Ridge volunteer Henry Tucker said. “We need to get brightened up once in awhile and give back.”

Davadene Barker said she volunteered to promote literacy.

“I think it’s important for children to know someone other than their parents or teachers care about reading,” she said.

Fourth-grader Claire Hyun said she liked the Global Reading Challenge. Each student joined a group of seven people and divvied up books, with some students reading all 10 and others reading two or three.

“It’s fun to be on a team together and read books,” Hyun said. “The elders are really nice and they help us a lot.”

Issaquah Valley Librarian Jennifer Ritchie said the contest exposes students to different genres of books, teamwork and reading comprehension.

The top Issaquah Valley teams will progress to district competitions and, if they do well, will compete at the regional challenge and then the grand challenge in March.

No matter how well they do, Holt said she was glad the students had forged friendships with the Timber Ridge volunteers, all of whom received handmade thank you cards from their little fans.

Volunteer Joan Bergesen, a retired teacher, said the students were astute learners.

“I was just delighted at how well they knew the answers to the questions,” she said.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com.

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