Margaret Fain Elementary students read along with New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper

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by Britney Morgan

1997 National Teacher of the Year and award winning, New York Times bestselling author, Sharon Draper, led a reading session with Margaret Fain fifth-grade students on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015.

During her visit, Ms. Draper read passages from her new book, “Stella by Starlight.” The students followed along and participated in a Q&A afterwards.  Fifth-grade Language Arts teacher Stephanie Jordan says that her students were well prepared because they studied the novel in class. In addition to reading the novel, they used Ms. Draper’s online study guides to support their in-depth analysis.

Ms. Jordan explained that the novel and its curriculum lined up perfectly with Common Core Standards20150224_100349 (4). The students were able to analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of the text by listening to the audiobook as they followed along with the story.

The setting for “Stella by Starlight” is 1932, and the dialect from that period was challenging at first for students until the audiobook was incorporated in the study. The novel touched on the Renaissance period and voting rights—topics that the fifth-graders are currently learning about in Social Studies.

20150224_105010 (2)As a part of their studies, the students learned how the novel evolved. Ms. Draper told the students that when her grandmother passed away she left Draper one of her journals. This is what she used as the starting point to write the novel. Draper says that her grandmother is her “Stella by Starlight”.

“My students already knew the story, but it was phenomenal for the children to actually hear Ms. Draper tell that story herself,” said Jordan.

Before departing, Ms. Draper shared her autograph and posed for photos with the children.

Fain Elementary and Ralph J. Bunche Middle schools were two of several schools that Ms. Draper visited in the metro Atlanta area in February.

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