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Students travel around the world with books | by U.S. Army Garrison Casey
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Students travel around the world with books

By Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth


CAMP CASEY, South Korea – Casey Elementary School students grabbed their passports, buckled their seatbelts and turned on their listening ears to enjoy a trip around the world without even leaving school grounds Jan. 15.

Almost 70 students, along with their parents, took part in the school’s Read Around the World. For the afternoon reading trip, the children had the opportunity to visit four of eight “countries” the school had set up in their classrooms. The children’s choices included the Czech Republic, Turkey, Germany and the Choctaw Nation.

“We sent out a message and asked who would like to volunteer to read, and the volunteers chose their country,” said Jessica Gudeman, a kindergarten teacher and co-chair person for the reading event. “We had some teachers step up to share where they were from. They wanted to share that part of their culture and history with the kids.”

But it wasn’t just staff that read to the students, Gudeman said.

“We also had parents who volunteered, we had a parent from Korea read about Korea and Mrs. Hunter who is from Italy come in and read a story from Italy,” she said.

“I wanted the kids to know more Labout Italy,” said Chiara Hunter. “Normally on an Army post you will see wives from Germany or Puerto Rico, but not too many Italian wives, so I decided to represent myself and let the kids know about my country and an Italian Christmas tale I don’t’ think American children now about.”

Hunter’s book was an Italian folk tale – “Befana” – an old lady who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Jan. 5, Epiphany Eve. She chose the story because “it is simple and represents what is important for Italian children at Christmas time.”

But the day was also about comprehending what was read to them.

“Continuous School Improvement, or CSI, is what we are doing at the school to help our students where we see the need is,” said Gudeman. “We are working this year to get our kids to comprehend what they are reading and to understand what they are hearing in the stories.”

The Casey Elementary School Wolves adopted a “go chart” to help students make connections about what is happening in the story. The school’s go chart breaks the story into three parts – beginning, middle and end – with each part represented by a different shape and containing different information to organize the story.

“It helps us remember parts of the story,” said second-grader Paul Davis, son of Maj. Paul Davis, of Company B, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. “It helps us with what comes first – the setting, character and problem.”

Those three parts make up the triangle which represents the beginning of all stories. The middle is represented with a square to signify four events that happen in the story. The end of the story is represented with a circle which brings everything together.

The volunteers brought together more than just stories from their countries, they also brought the music and foods of their homeland.

“Puerto Rico was my favorite country,” said Davis. “I liked the dancing.”

In keeping with the theme of world travel, each student received a “passport” prior to beginning their journey. Before departing a country the storytellers affixed to the page a sticker of their country’s flag.

When their travels were complete, the students showed their passports to the school’s “customs” agents who gave them a cookbook with recipes from the eight countries.

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Taken on January 15, 2013