That’s right–for the first time in school history, the Chase Street Tree Frogs have won the Clarke County School District Battle of the Books!

Beatrice Acheson, Fiona Cashin, Chandler Pendley, Quinn Phillips, and Katie Grace Upchurch returned from the battle at Clarke Central High School around lunchtime today carrying their very own sparkling trophies (the first some of them had ever won), a huge trophy for our school (which will be displayed here at Chase Street until next year’s competition), and some of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. 🙂

For more about the competition, scroll past these fun-filled photos for a detailed account!

Our team embarked on their journey to victory back in January with a book tasting to sample the 10 titles on this year’s 5th grade book list. After that, they read….and read…and read!

While each member of our 5-person team could have chosen to be experts on just two books in order to cover all ten, our voracious 5th grade readers went far above and beyond that expectation. In fact, by the time we traveled to competition today, all five students had read between five and seven books each!

Once our school team had been chosen (you can read more about the team members’ strategies and our school’s team selection process on the 5th grade blog), we spent the last month meeting during 5th grade’s lunchtime for practice sessions twice a week.

In a typical practice, we made sure to answer at least 20 questions covering all 10 books; the question format is “In which book does ___________ happen?”, and answers must include both the title and author of the correct book. And the questions aren’t easy! To answer confidently, students must have deep, detailed knowledge of the books–the kind of knowledge that only comes from close, careful reading.

Besides question drills, we also spent our practice sessions discussing strategies for using our time wisely, communicating our ideas effectively, listening to each other, and working together as a team.

By the time we met for our final practice yesterday, it was clear that the kids’ diligence and determination had paid off and they were ready for today’s competition.

After battling hard for two rounds against teams from other schools, my 5th grade kids sat together in Mell Auditorium holding their breath (and each others’ hands) as they waited for the top two teams to be announced. You can probably imagine our Tree Frogs’ squeals of excitement when they learned they would be battling last year’s runners-up, Whitehead Road Elementary, in the final round of competition!

That final round was fierce but focused. The questions were tough, the audience was on the edge of their seats, and either school could have won.

In fact, since scores are not shared during the competition, our team actually thought that they had come in second place–until the announcement was made that they had won. They were so surprised!

After tons of team photos, giggles, and goofy grins, we traveled back to school for a pizza party in the library–one last lunch together to celebrate their amazing dedication and cooperation.

The best part, for me, was this: these 5th graders were prepared for any outcome.

Beatrice, Fiona, Chandler, Quinn, and Katie Grace all knew that the other 13 teams had been working just as hard as they had, that winning both of their rounds wouldn’t guarantee them a spot in the finale–that, in the end, only two teams could earn a place in the final two.

They wanted to win, so badly, and they were thrilled when they did–but I thought they handled their victory with humility and grace.

In the end, all 14 of our school district’s teams worked so hard and did an oustanding job at the Battle of the Books today! I love having the opportunity to read a ton of great books with my 5th graders and to get together with my colleagues from around the district for this amazing celebration of reading and teamwork. 🙂

Oh, and here’s a YouTube video of the final round, thanks to our district’s awesome instructional technology team. (The audio and video are a tad choppy, but you can mostly tell what’s going on, and you can even see the live feed of our virtual audience’s chat room!)