How much of what you read can you actually remember? One Martin Walker Elementary School teacher has a method for helping students truly understand and recall what they are reading.

Teacher Angela Thomas plans interactive activities that involve student investigation and first-hand learning to reinforce comprehension. She has students conduct experiments after reading a book.

“I do the hands-on lessons because the children obtain more information by seeing how things work. It also helps their understanding of the topics we read,” Thomas said. “I love bringing reading to life.”

Thomas is one of Martin Walker’s interventionists that implements the Leveled Literacy Intervention program in her classroom. The program works with reading components such as fluency, vocabulary and comprehension to help students build necessary reading skills that can be applied across all subjects.

The program has lessons suited for students at different reading levels and is designed to guide students through their reading before, during and after reading a book.

Thomas uses the experiments and activities as a way to ensure her students are grasping the concepts and themes of the book they are reading.

Thomas’ third-grade class recently finished reading “Geysers” by Jean Knox and ended their lesson with a boom.

The students got to make their own geysers with Mentos and a bottle of soda. By dropping the Mentos into the soda, a stream of soda erupted, sending it upward into the air.

Third-grader Madelynn Gorres learned the gas released from the Mentos pushes the liquid up, creating the soda blast.

“I learned that the heat from the magma in the ground heats up the water to make the steam come out with force,” Gorres said.

The class then discussed the experiment in comparison to natural geysers and how they are formed.

Thomas’ fourth-grade class also experienced hands-on learning after reading “Making Butter.” Students placed heavy whipping cream in a jar and shook it until it formed a solid substance. Once the butter was formed, the remaining liquid was poured out and the butter was placed in a bowl of cold water. Student Tyson Hart Thomas said placing the butter in cold water rinses the butter so it doesn’t go sour as quickly.

“Making butter is fun,” Hart said, grinning as he shook the jar from side to side. “When you shake the container to mix everything together, it’s good exercise.”

Thomas’ fifth-grade class made storms in a cup after reading “Heroes of the Superstorm” by Zoe Kashner. The students used water to represent the rain and shaving cream to represent the clouds. Drops of food coloring were added to demonstrate how the cloud gets full and heavy and the water starts to fall from the sky as rain.

After finishing the experiments, Thomas asks students follow-up questions to link their readings with the assignment. She engages the students in critical thinking skills to enhance their comprehension.

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