Dickinson High School athletes are connecting with elementary school students virtually by reading their favorite books.
Eight athletes chose a book to read and recorded themselves reading on a Flipgrid created by Roosevelt Elementary School's technology integration specialist Lexi Steiner and Amber Berg, title 1 teacher.
Two of the athletes participating are Berg's children, Baylee and Troy.
"They’re each in three sports, so I was trying to figure out how I could get them doing something over this time, something productive, I guess," Berg said. "I just figured it was a good way for the little kids to stay kind of connected to the athletes that they watch during the season, even though there’s no season."
Baylee, who plays softball, volleyball and basketball, chose to read "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly."
"I remember it being read to me as a kid and thought it would be a fun thing to read to kids," she said.
Baylee's read to some of the kids she's babysat before and said she prefers reading virtually.
"It was a little nerve wracking, but in the video I can mess up and delete that part and read it again. In person, if you mess up, you just have to keep going and act like it’s part of the book," she said.
Grant Bittner, who plays soccer, basketball and golf, read "Iggy Peck, Architect," a book about a boy who likes to build things.
"He gets to second grade where this teacher absolutely hates building and architecture, so she bans him from it," he said. "Second grade is pretty much the most boring year of his life until the teacher takes them on a picnic. When they cross the bridge onto a little island, the bridge breaks and the teacher faints. When she wakes back up, she realized that Iggy Peck had led his classmates into helping build a bridge out of shoestrings and other little things that they found on the island. After she sees that, she realizes that building is actually a good thing, and she allows him to speak in front of his classmates about building and architecture."
The book was a favorite of his sister, Grace.
"I chose it because when I used to read to my sister, it was probably my favorite one to read to her and she really liked it. I figured that if she liked it, the other kids would like it too," he said.
Grace passed away last July from a brain tumor. She would have been a second-grader at Lincoln Elementary School this year. Their mother, Andrea, said Grace loved the book and would have enjoyed listening to the teens reading books.
The Flipgrid is available for teachers to use for story time in their online classrooms and has received positive feedback so far.
"What a lot of teachers did is they just put it into their assignments for the week, and then the kids can just open it up," Berg said. "They can watch one of them if they want to. We’ve had kids that the teachers have come back and been like, ‘They want more stories.’ … or ‘Johnny’s watched this one five times already and this is his favorite athlete.’ It’s just kind of fun to see how the kids are responding to it that way."
Berg said she'd like to continue the project next year, but it's up to the high school kids as participation is voluntary.