Fifth-graders Emily Garcia and Chela Levy had already finished all the extra credit homework their teacher, Mrs. Kathy Hill, had assigned so she challenged them to start their own project. What the girls came up with was a website that piqued their classmates’ interest in reading while helping them study for the language arts portion of Florida’s standardized test. The site, called ELA Anywhere, included articles that kids would enjoy reading and then had a series of multiple choice questions to answer, much like the actual test.
“We looked up articles online that were kid-friendly,” says Chela. “We found ones we liked and figured other kids would like them too.” Subjects on the site ranged from a dance move called “flossing” to the video game Fortnite, chewing gum to the Muppets. “If it is interesting for kids to read, they will try harder,” Emily says.
“These girls take everything they do to the next level. They are the top of their class in everything while also being kind, fun and inclusive.” —Kathy Hill
The girls found that their classmates were enjoying their practice site so much that the duo began working during recess to keep up with demand for new articles and questions. Eventually they had to enlist the help of classmates and “hired” article assigners and question writers. “It was hard to choose people for each job,” Emily says. “Everyone was friends and we didn’t want anyone to feel left out.”
The girls hope to improve and expand on the site next year, and Ms. Hill says she will use it for future students. “Any time spent practicing reading is good,” she adds. “In general, it made a positive difference in the attitude toward the test. These girls take everything they do to the next level. They are the top of their class in everything while also being kind, fun and inclusive.”