Librarian Cynthia Maffett is new to the staff at Northside Elementary, but she’s not the only new thing on campus. Launched last month, fourth and fifth graders began participating in Beanstack, a digital reading program that allowed children to record their reading time and earn digital badges and other rewards.
âOur campus is the only one participating in the program,â Maffett said. âIt’s a way for kids to record their readings and earn incentives. “
More recently, a drawing was organized in which the children were rewarded for their reading achievement.
âFive students each year won a token for getting a book from the vending machine,â Maffett said.
According to Maffett, the campus purchased the reading program last year for the 2021-22 school year.
Northside students are challenged to spend time reading each day with the goal of at least 600 minutes during the month.
âThe goal is for each student to read an average of 20 minutes per day,â she said. âStudents can go online and record the minutes and the title of the book. “
In addition, during the month, teachers and Maffett can check on student progress.
âPeriodically throughout the month, we can look for students who are on the right track,â she said. “They get a small reward.”
Students can also write reviews on books they have read, which Maffett says is beneficial in two ways.
âTeachers can assess students’ reading comprehension of a book with Beanstack,â she said.
The other advantage is that other students can see what their friends are reading and read their book reviews.
Each month focuses on a theme, which correlates with the activities that students can do online. September was âBack to Schoolâ and October was âRead to Sanctify The Whole Worldâ.
October’s reward is a feast.
âAt the end of October, the students who have reached the 600 minute goal will be having a partyâ¦ they will be able to play bingo and win prizes,â said Maffett.
Currently, September 15 through October 15, is celebrated as Hispanic Heritage Month, and students can participate in activities found on the Beanstack website that “focus on the theme.”
Students can also participate in the Bluebonnet Reading Challenge until January, another tool that encourages students to read.
“The Bluebonnet Reading Challenge is linked to the Texas Library Association.” she said. “There is a list of books the association recommends.”
Students can consult books at the school library or at the El Campo branch library. They can read any book of their choice, but if necessary the teachers and Maffett can offer suggestions.
The Beanstack Reading Program will continue until the end of the school year. It is comparable to another program that elementary school students have attended, according to Maffett.
âWe used to do Excellerated Reader where kids take online quizzes after reading the book,â she said.
So far, the new reading program is going well.
âI think they like it,â Maffett said. âIt’s new for them and therefore exciting for them.