Literacy Night Book Tasting Bistro, Differentiated!

Literacy Night offers an opportunity for scholars to demonstrate their reading and writing skills. Each year, our school tries to improve our evening by, in part, responding to parent requests. Upon request, I implemented a differentiated approach to meet the needs of all students by creating various take-home activities using our reading curriculum reading levels. With the help of my co-workers, we combined the 3–5 grade band students and created appropriate, specific leveled activities. Activities included phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. These take-home activities could be used over and over again for practice.

To make it a fun evening, we borrowed the popular Book Tasting idea. Each classroom was set up by reading levels in both Spanish and English since we are a Dual Language School. Each room at our Buhrer Bistro was set up with the color level, activities, and all of the restaurant details in that color, (invitations, tablecloths, balloons, placemats, candles, and leveled books). We even dressed the part as servers in colored aprons. Scholars rotated to the Spanish and English rooms and “tasted” the book activities. Parents participated, and it was awesome to observe them speaking in both languages—often with their child’s help! I must say, parents and students loved this! Every student was successful at their level. Parents commented on how the activities were something they would enjoy playing at home.

Buhrer Bistro was originally intended only for my third grade classes, however, it evolved across the grade band as I shared what I was going to do. It was such a success, we have already decided to implement it each year. Stay tuned to next year!

Lori Kurek has been an elementary school teacher for 40 years, 37 of which have been as an English Language Arts and social studies at Buhrer Dual Language Academy.  She is a 1979 graduate of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s West Tech High School. Lori believes her keys to success are creating a positive classroom environment in which all scholars feel safe, accepted, loved, and successful; and creating lessons that are differentiated, challenging, and fun. She has been a part of Disney Musicals in Schools program for six years, encouraging students to experience the joy of the arts. Lori holds both a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Cleveland State University. In addition, she has also earned a reading comprehension certification. Lori’s hobbies include exercising, reading, spending time with her two adult sons, and anything in the sun. She plans on educating scholars as long as her mind and body allow.