Written by Denise Gary
Photographs © Denise Gary
Video © James Blasingame

The Kids Need to Read “Reading Revolution” program continued at ASU Preparatory Academy (Phoenix, Arizona) with an incredible student presentation in November. The students’ projects were based on their studies of The Softwire series, written by KNTR Founder PJ Haarsma. Teachers at ASU Preparatory Academy integrated the series into their English language arts, math, science, and social studies core curriculum, which culminated in this evening presentation.

Math Teacher David Michael Bennett, Social Studies & Learning Lab Teacher Brett Isacksen, English Teacher Andrea Enger, and Social Studies Teacher Shannon O’Meara

The library was filled with projects that illustrated the novels’ economic, civil rights, and time measurement systems, as well as interesting literacy circle endeavors. Not only were we so impressed with the students’ grasp of the material but their enthusiasm for reading the books really blew us away! This was clearly a product of introducing The Softwire to the kids in an entertaining opening presentation featuring two “aliens” and a Skype video conference with the author, and the teachers’ inspirational integration of the books into the curriculum of their classes. In this way, engaging reading material was enhanced by offering enticement and purpose.

In the following video, students discuss the books and their projects, while school educators report a marked increase in literacy self-motivation resulting from the program.

Take a look at some of the projects we discovered during the evening. The wall at the front of the library was lined with colorful projects depicting Orbisian calendars, time cycles, and justice systems.

One calendar featured alien portraits and metric comparisons.

Time schedules on Orbis are quite complex, but students obviously mastered them.

As visitors moved away from the opening wall, they entered a library packed with fascinating student projects.

There were creative economics projects such as this one (below), which featured coupons and an advertisement for new “skins.”

There were many eye-catching Orbisian calendars.

A long row of tables featured complex literacy circle projects.

The comparisons between slavery in the United States and slavery on Orbis were intriguing.

A perceptive emphasis was placed on “disrespect” in the project featured below.

One student created a giant replica of the paperback version of The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1.

Inside were time comparisons and a summary of the book.

Another project featured creative art, including depictions of the main characters.

One of my favorite projects was this simple summarization of how The Softwire made the students smarter.

The goal of Reading Revolution is to increase literacy rates and decrease dropout rates through innovative literacy instruction aimed at middle school students. Kids Need to Read is partnering with Arizona State University and ASU Preparatory Academy to produce this cutting-edge curriculum. In the following video, ASU Prep teachers discussed their involvement in the project and I explained the goals Kids Need to Read has for the program.

Other units of study will follow The Softwire introductory project over a two-year period. It is our hope to expand Reading Revolution nationwide once the pilot program has been fully developed and tested. The potential to significantly increase literacy rates will be unlimited!

Reading Revolution Program Partners

Arizona State University
ASU Preparatory Academy
Avnet Contributions Council
Carus Publishing
National Home Library Foundation
Skype Limited

More Photos: ASU Preparatory Academy: Student Softwire Presentation

Learn more about Reading Revolution:

Related Blog: KNTR and ASU Youth Literacy Initiative Kickoff was “Out of this World”

Related Blog: Kids Sign Reading Pledge Pumpkins at ASU Prep Fall Festival

Press Release: Kids Need to Read and Arizona State University Launch Innovative Youth Literacy Program

Video: Aliens Land at ASU Preparatory Academy


2 Responses to “Reading Revolution: Stupendous Student SOFTWIRE Presentation”

  1. Honey Apostos on December 20th, 2011 6:55 pm

    Fantastic! What a thrill to see the result of everyone’s hard work.
    It must have been really rewarding for PJ to see how much kids are getting out of his books.

  2. Denise Gary on December 20th, 2011 7:00 pm

    Thank you, Honey! It sure is thrilling for everyone involved!

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