Expanding vocabularies

Conway Morning Rotary Club donates dictionaries

Published Thursday, March 06, 2008

When Sherry Norrell asked a class of fourth-graders what service organizations do, one student responded by saying they give service to the city.

According to Norrell, reading recovery teacher at Ida Burns Elementary School and member of the Conway Morning Rotary Club, that student's answer was exactly right.


She also told the group children are a very important part of a city and because of this, the Rotary club has made one of its service projects purchasing dictionaries and giving them to third-graders in the Conway School District.

Norrell and Dr. Alice Hines, a Rotarian and professor at Hendrix College, held an assembly at Ida Burns Wednesday to pass out the dictionaries and practice looking up new words with the kids.

"I think it's good for our Rotarians to get in the schools and see the students and it's good for the students to see these adults who are members of service organizations," Norrell said.

The dictionaries are funded through grants and fundraisers held by the club and according to Norrell, the group was unable to get the funding last year, so this year they gave dictionaries to third- and fourth-grade students.

"Even though a dictionary may seem like a small thing to us, these students get so excited about receiving them," Norrell said. "You see the students coming out of the assembly and thumbing through the dictionaries to find new words."

Hines's part in the assembly Wednesday afternoon was to read from a book entitled, "Gooney Bird and the Room Mother," by Lois Lowry, and have students locate words they didn't know and look them up.

"This story teaches them to read new words in context and if they can't figure out what those new words mean, they can just pick up a dictionary and find it," Norrell said.

After the assembly, Hines said the dictionary project is an important one for her club to undertake because of its many benefits.

"I can't imagine what would happen to a group of students who do not have their own dictionaries throughout the course of their education," Hines said. "Because a dictionary is certainly a book that can open up such a world of learning."


Hines said one of the best things to watch is a student writing his or her name in the dictionary and seeing how proud they are to own one.

According to Heather Nutt, fourth-grade teacher, a lot of the students at Ida Burns didn't have a dictionary in their homes before the project.

"They didn't have these resources at home before, but now this can allow them to not only improve their reading and writing skills at school, but at home as well," Nutt said.

One of the students at the assembly, Ke-air Criswell, said he was so happy when he learned he would be given a dictionary of his very own.

"Now I can do my homework at home and use my dictionary," Criswell said. "My sister has one at home, but she uses it for her homework, but now I can use my own."

(Staff writer Jessica Bauer can be reached by e-mail at jessica.bauer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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