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Students victorious in Channing Hall’s Triwizard Reading Tournament

Apr 06, 2018 10:54AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Students in the class that read the most minutes during Channing Hall’s read wars could pet a python. (Nina Dalley/Channing Hall)

Channing Hall students read more than 352,000 minutes outside the classroom during a three-week period, with one fifth-grade boy amassing 7,400 minutes alone.

It was during a reading competition, the Triwizard Reading Tournament, where students individually read as many minutes as they could to compete against other students and classes.

While there were incentives each week from doughnuts to restaurant kids meal vouchers, as well as an overall individual prize of a Harry Potter coffee table book and other items, read wars chair Nina Dalley said they also acknowledged the most improved readers.

“We had some students move up three or four reading levels,” she said, adding that typically students move up six or seven levels per school year. “With more reading, they all win. We want this to be the new normal — to read more. We want them to go forward and read, not just to have done it for the prizes.”

Dalley said that studies show it takes 21 days for new habits to form, the same amount of days in the reading challenge. 

“They’re used to reading all the time now and we want them to continue that habit as they love to read,” she said, adding that as a result of the challenge, her daughters have structured their homework around their pleasure reading.

Dalley said the tournament, held Jan. 17 through Feb. 6, was set at a good time, as students returned from winter break.

“It helped them to get focused again and they could throw themselves into it. Winter tends to lend itself to reading and everyone was so excited,” she said.

With flying keys and other Harry Potter decorations displayed throughout the school, teachers also agreed to motivate students through the “teacher torture challenge.” Some “tortures” included taking a pie in the face, flying on a broomstick to play Quidditch while be attacked by silly string or taking the potions challenge when students met their reading goals.

“Even though Harry Potter came out years ago, the students were still so excited about the theme,” Dalley said.

Next year’s theme will tie in Legos, which students already are looking forward to with the recent releases of Lego movies.

The winning class, fifth-graders in Heidi Wright’s classroom, won a chance to not only learn about tarantulas, lizards and dragons from Scales ’N Tails, but also a chance to pet an eight-foot python.

“Some of the students didn’t have any hesitation and walked right up to pet it,” said Dalley, who was taken aback when she was asked to help hold the snake.

All the students were entertained by learning from HawkWatch International.

“The students were really excited to see a horned owl; it was a great presentation,” Dalley said. “We focus on reading all year, but this was a chance for them to work together in a healthy competition to try to reach goals and help each other improve.” 

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