The Battle of the Bookline is gaining momentum on the ISD campus

A dynasty in the making at the Illinois School of the Deaf Campus.

Two ISD teams have won national awards in the Battle of the Books competition, and one is looking to win first prize when the team travels to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., for two days of Test Bowl competition April 1-2. .

Battle of the Books is a motivational reading program. The ISD program is geared towards middle school students in grades five through eight. Students read books as a team and are tested on their knowledge of the books they have read.

The Blue Team includes fifth graders Hayden Brown, Claudia Kuhn, Corinna Kuhn, and alternate Christopher Johnson. Team Bison includes fifth graders Selina Kuhn and Grant Hicks, and eighth grader Ava Lyons. The Cohn sisters are triplets.

Under the direction of fifth-grade teacher Nicole Fry, the teams reached heights normally attained by seventh and eighth graders. Fry is assisted by eighth-grade teacher Alison Frost.

“Most of the teams we compete against are filled with seventh and eighth graders, which means we’ll have three more years to compete and improve,” Frey said. “They don’t go easy on them. Remember, these are mostly the 10- and 11-year-olds on our teams.”

Excited is a word every student uses when talking about the upcoming trip.

“It helped boost my confidence to compete,” Claudia said. “I usually shy away from it.”

“The Battle of the Books is an opportunity to read more,” Corinna said. “I enjoy reading and I look forward to competing in Washington. I’m going there because of the reading.”

“I love the battle of the books,” Hayden said. “I get the chance to go to Washington, D.C., and see the people we played against. It would be great to meet other kids, especially from the UK.”

While the competition is considered a national level competition, students from a school for the deaf in the UK are also participating.

Each team is given three books to read on their own. They cannot get help from teachers, except to ask for the definition of a word. They cannot talk about books with anyone other than their teammates. Early matches are conducted via Zoom and questions are delivered via PowerPoint. Teams advance from the heats to the finals, and then to the nationals, where the competition takes place.

“After the preliminary round, they realized how interesting they were,” Frye said. “They read the books several times and discuss them among themselves. They become more confident in what they can do themselves.”

The ISD Bison finished first out of 24, but the team’s season ended due to a lack of age-appropriate material to handle the additional teams. Their consolation prize is a trip to Washington, D.C. to cheer on the Blue Team members.

The ISD Blue Team finished in the top six finalists and will compete for first prize at Gallaudet. The team will receive four new study books on February 6th.

There are three sections, Bison, Buff, and Blue, each based on reading levels.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Frey said. “It instills a love of reading, improves their reading confidence, and helps them work as a team. It doesn’t allow one person to lead the team. If you only have one strong person, you won’t get ahead. You have to be quick and know your stuff.”

Questions are asked as true/false, multiple choice or short answer. Answers should be written neatly on the board because clarity and spelling are also important. They have 30 seconds to answer. One student watches the clock while another writes and then hands the whiteboard over to the teacher to show to the judges.

Students move their desks up during the first round and can work together on the answers. During the second round, they take turns answering and team members cannot help each other. The third round, which is the hardest, is the submission round. Three questions are asked, and the team decides which team member will answer which question.

Frey said she prepares students for practice matches using books that are not part of the official competition. She likes the program because it challenges students to read longer, more difficult books on their own.

“At first it was, ‘Uh, do we have to read three books?'” Now they can’t wait to get the four books they’re going to read for the national competition.” “They’re excited about it. They’re excited about next year already.”

Corinna reinforced this idea when she reported that the books to the citizens wouldn’t arrive until February 6th.

“I want the books to come today,” she said.

“They’re very supportive and they don’t criticize each other,” Frey said. The two teams cheer for each other.

Not all of the trip will be work. A squad of three teachers, seven students, and various family members will leave on March 30 for Washington.

“We have tickets to Ford’s Theater and the Holocaust Museum, and we plan to see the memorials,” Frye said. “For many of the students, this will be the first time they’ve ever been on an airplane.”

Students are keen to see the sites and meet competitors from other schools.

“I look forward to seeing the Martin Luther King Memorial,” Christopher said.

“I want to see the Museum of American History and Ford’s Theatre,” Celine said.

“I’m excited to meet people, visit museums, check out the White House, and see where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial,” Corinna said. “It will be my first time on a plane.”

While there is a lot of fun in Washington, the students don’t forget why they are making the trip.

“I’m excited because I want to win again,” said Hayden.

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