Community-Building. That has been the main focus at Genevieve Melody STEM Elementary this school year. Located in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, Melody aims to provide safe, stable, and supportive learning environments for students. To achieve this goal, Melody has made an effort to increase the breadth of its educational partnerships with local Chicago organizations. This, in turn, has led to alternative ways of teaching and learning. When walking the halls at Melody, one is greeted by rhythmic sounds of drum circles led by local college students, sing-alongs to popular music to identify parts of speech, and number-counting taught through hop-scotch. These are just a few of the alternative ways Melody is reinventing what it means to teach and learn as they continue to advance their community-building.
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Since 2004, Talcott Fine Arts & Museum Academy has been a partner of WITS. Located in West Town, the school serves 528 students from Pre-K to eighth grade. For 12 years, WITS has entered Talcott’s doors providing early childhood summer programs, kindergarten programs, mid-day mentoring, and after-school programs. Every Thursday, four of our community volunteers head over to the school’s library on the third floor of the building to read with their individually-assigned kindergarten buddies. The library is a prime space for WITS students to work on their reading skills. It is a comfortable site composed of glossy-wooden flooring and royal yellow walls that extend along shelves of endless literature. It’s a radiant space with several tall windows that captivate the outskirts of the city while expelling subtle rays of sunlight into every corner of the room.
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Since 2010, McClellan Elementary has partnered with WITS. Located in the heart of Bridgeport, volunteers from the Chicago White Sox take a Wednesday walk to read with McClellan 3rd Graders. Over the 6 years of programming, WITS volunteers have read with over 250 students, providing over one thousand hours of literacy support. Built in 1881, McClellan serves 318 students in pre-kindergarten to 8th grade with one classroom per grade. Spread out over 4 floors, the McClellan building could be the prototype for older CPS schools: warn wood floors, wide black stairs, spacious rooms with built in cabinets, creaky doors and hallways, and banks of windows with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline.
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The auditorium at William Penn Elementary is a large space, with ceilings two stories high, and seating for hundreds. But scattered here and there, pairs of readers sit together, enjoying the close, personal experience of reading a book together. The WITS magic is happening!
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How to create a community of readers: A look into the WITS culture at Jenner Elementary
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