GREENE – After a month of guided reading and discussions, seven fifth-grade students celebrated by showing off their final projects – shields made for a character in the book they examined. It is one of many reading groups at Greene Central School.

“The Castle in the Attic” is an award-winning book for young people. It transports its characters and readers back to the Middle Ages as young William helps the Silver Knight reclaim his kingdom. The book is filled with description, challenging vocabulary, obsolete customs and twists between reality and fantasy.

The group is one of several instructed every day by literacy teacher Annette Dorey. Dorey is one of six literacy teachers in the remodeled and enlarged Greene Central School.

The school reopened Jan. 3 for grades kindergarten to six after four months – both memorable and challenging – in the old Wal-Mart in Auburn.

Students from all grade levels are eager to spend time in the literacy center. The bright space allows for quieter group discussions. Literacy staff also guide students individually and in pairs toward building other literacy skills.

Principal Tom Martellone is committed to literacy being a high priority throughout the school. He recalls the wisdom of one of his professors: “What a reader brings to a book is what a reader takes from a book.”

Small reading groups help to improve each student’s fluency and comprehension. Students also analyze character development, new vocabulary and themes in an array of literature from the school’s “book room.”

“Some of the students became so absorbed in the suspense of the book,” Dorey said, “that I couldn’t stop them from reading beyond the assigned chapters. As teachers, we experience an extra reward witnessing enthusiasm like this with good old-fashioned books, especially with today’s competing media and electronic games.”

In addition to their creative life-size shields, students were required to write a paper explaining how the designs on their shields were linked to the story. Those final projects reflect both their enthusiasm and comprehension of the book. Each shield is unique, like the students themselves.

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