A group of deaf / hard of hearing middle schoolers at ISDB recently participated in a team literacy competition against middle school students from other schools or programs for the deaf or hard of hearing in other states. The members of this year's team are co-captains Gavin Mazzone and Jordan Mowery, along with Aspen Whiffen, and Zamon Valle. Their Literacy class teacher and coach, Marcos Aguilar, has provided encouragement for them and has structured class time for them to prepare.
Gallaudet University, in Washington DC, sponsors an annual competition, Battle of the Books, each year to provide middle school students the opportunity to participate in an academic- focused competition. There are three parts to the competition: the Preliminary competition; the Playoffs; and the National competition.
The purpose of the Battle of the Books is to promote literacy amongst Deaf and Hard of Hearing Middle School students; promote a spirit of academic competition and good sportsmanship; and to encourage critical thinking skills amongst Middle School students.
In the “Battle of the Books”, students on each team are tasked with reading 3 novels chosen by the Battle of the Books staff at Gallaudet. This year’s sections are A Wrinkle in Time, Greenglass Mouse, and Weedflower. Students have a couple of months to read the books and prepare themselves for the competition by discussing the books with team members. The rules of the competition direct that teachers nor their coach are not allowed to lead discussions or activities related to the 3 novels at all. The practice and the discussions can only be student led. On December 2, ISDB’s team competed, barely missing the cut-off to advance to the Playoff round. Though the team failed to advance this year, we are looking forward to next year.