Cogburn Woods Elementary Takes Top Prize for Summer Reading
Cogburn Woods Elementary School in Alpharetta was recently awarded the top prize for summer reading.
Through the online reading log program Beanstack, Cogburn Woods students kept track of what they read in the summer of 2022, earning first place in the United States and a $2,000 cash prize for their library. Cogburn Woods readers from kindergarten through fifth grade numbered 553 students, reading for a total of 57,958 hours during the summer.
Beanstack is used by schools and library systems nationwide to encourage reading outside the classroom, particularly during the summer. Fulton County Schools became part of the program in 2021.
“I feel that providing something fun, like the Beanstack summer reading challenge, was a fun way for students to read and use their brains in positive ways,” said Media Education Technology Instructor Kelly Caudell, who oversaw the Beanstack program at Cogburn Woods. “Over the years, I have learned that if you can make learning fun students are more likely to buy into their own education. This is key to increasing participation and helping decrease ‘the summer slide.’”
Caudell added her own ideas for reading and other activities to what was available through Beanstack to make her students even more engaged and challenged. For instance, she created a badge for third, fourth and fifth grade students that encouraged them to read and learn about the U.S. National Park System.
Caudell says letting everyone know about the summer reading challenge, teachers, parents, the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and students, helps drive student participation.
“Literacy has always been our number-one focus,” explained Principal Lisa Garosi. “When this came about [Caudell] has really owned it 100%. She advertises it and pushes it and gives me information to share with the staff.”
Now that summer is over, the reading challenge continues into the current school year. For the participating students, Caudell pulls two names from a raffle each week to recognize them.
“I made sure to start the school year off by recognizing students who participated in the summer reading challenge,” said Caudell. “I did this by using the drawing tool on the Beanstack website to randomly draw names of students who logged a certain number of minutes over the summer. These students were recognized on the school’s morning announcements [and] earned a prize.”
Said Garosi, “[Engaging] in the summer challenges gives our families and our students something to look forward to and to do. We've been celebrating our milestones too. It does get people excited. It continued. [It’s] not just summer.”
With the prize money, Caudell has installed a book vending machine at Cogburn Woods and filled it with books students can win for continuing to read on their own time.
Caudell says the best part of this program is growing students’ love for reading.
Cogburn Woods Summer Readers (l-r): 1st Place - Danyal Rahman (3rd grade); 2nd Place - Ryan Rakesh (3rd grade); 3rd Place: Emma Chintanakam (4th grade).