During the month of February, the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS), with the support of Scholastic, Inc., sponsored Unbound, a nationwide read-a-thon. More than 50 schools across the country participated.
The project began with bundles of books, donated by Scholastic to participating sites. Under the direction of an English teacher or Librarian, students logged their reading minutes and kept track of the books. Each week, schools sent in their weekly reading totals to CEEAS. Students were also encouraged to write short book reviews by responding to a series of prompts. Teachers submitted the reviews to CEEAS to be posted on the Unbound book review blog. More than 2,000 students participated in the read-a-thon.
Brian Barrett, Teaching Coordinator for the Collaborative for Educational Services at the Springfield Treatment Center, led his school to the first place among facilities of a similar size (under 20 students). Brian’s students averaged just over 18 hours of reading per week outside of the classroom. Operated by the Center for Human Development, the Center is a residential facility serving teens committed to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. The facility will receive a bundle of new books from Scholastic, along with a number of Scholastic magazine subscriptions.
Brian was enthusiastic about the reading challenge. He noted: “The Unbound reading challenge sponsored by CEEAS and Scholastic provided my students with a great opportunity to get involved with reading for enjoyment. Many of the students never had the chance or the interest to read outside the classroom. Between the high interest books provided and the competitive nature of Unbound, my students really got into reading on their own. Once they started to read, the enjoyment they got out of the books was what kept them going and striving to read even more. We had some students who said they had never read a whole book in their lives before this contest, and they read multiple books over the course of the month. Others who like to read were able to read entire book series during Unbound. This was a great opportunity for the students at Springfield Residential Treatment, and has instilled a love of reading and learning that will continue for the rest of their lives.”
Over 300 students also submitted book reviews. A resident from the Springfield Treatment Center completed 23 book reviews, the high number of any student in the competition. The young man commented, “Being someone who reads a lot, there aren’t too many books in this program I haven’t read. So when I’m given the opportunity to do something I love as a contest, sign me up!! I like the books that we were given. They were all books that I was interested in and the prizes are a great thing to motivate kids like me to keep reading.”
The youth completed book reviews on a wide range of books, including 7 Habits of Effective Teenagers, Oliver Twist, Monster, and Divergent. N.S. will receive five books of his choosing and a $25 award from CEEAS.
For additional information about Unbound, reach out to David Domenici at CEEAS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Division of Youth Services Education Initiative
Since 2003, the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) has been a partner to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) and the Commonwealth Corporation in creating access to high-quality education and employment opportunities for youth in the care and custody of DYS, through the DYS Education Initiative. Located in Northampton, MA since 1974, CES is a non-profit educational services agency, committed to reaching and educating all learners, and experienced in working with educators to help students learn and succeed.
For more information, please visit www.collaborative.org./programs/DYS