published Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

High school meets kindergarten at Tunnel Hill Elementary School

Kaitlyn Parton, front, listens as Sarah Dailey reads from an animated children's story during a program at Northwest Whitfield High School in Tunnel Hill, Ga.
Kaitlyn Parton, front, listens as Sarah Dailey reads from an animated children's story during a program at Northwest Whitfield High School in Tunnel Hill, Ga.
Photo by Alyson Wright.

TUNNEL HILL, Ga. -- When 15-year-old Seth Hutchinson was given a class assignment to create an animated PowerPoint presentation geared toward kindergartners, he thought it would be easy.

But when the freshman realized his project would be judged by actual 5-year-olds, he got nervous.

As part of a project in an elective technology course at Northwest Whitfield High School, students were required to create a presentation that told a story for kindergartners. On Tuesday, they presented those stories to 20 Tunnel Hill Elementary School students to critique.

High school technology teacher Shara Cook said the stories, on a range of subjects from ninjas to rubber ducks, were a challenge for her students. They had to learn how to write on the level of their audience and to incorporate their technology skills in a practical way, she said.

"This was difficult for them," Cook said.

At the same time, the younger students were learning their shapes, colors and numbers and got to see how technology works on their own level, kindergarten teachers said.

As high schoolers paired up with kindergartners in the Tunnel Hill media center Tuesday, some kids pointed to the correct color on the screen and mouthed along with words they recognized. Others pointed out problems they saw with the pictures.

Projects like this tie into the school districts' push to have every student reading and writing by the third grade, elementary teacher Missy Rittenhouse said.

Teachers at Tunnel Hill Elementary will be trained next year to become a part of the literacy initiative, but she said this type of activity gets teachers thinking about how to incorporate reading and writing into fun projects.

At the end of the assignment, the kindergartners got to choose what picture they wanted to draw on the computer screen using the shapes they knew.

Delia Flanery, 5, chose to make a green caterpillar and, as she watched the completed caterpillar bounce on the screen, she jumped up and down.

"This was the best day ever," she said.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at 423-757-6659 or

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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