About a year ago, teacher Todd Esposito had the idea for his Gates Chili High School students to complete a full-size, hands-on building project that reinforces their classroom math lessons from applied geometry.
Esposito contacted Alfred State, and asked if his class could come to the college campus and work alongside building trades students to make the math come to life by building a literacy loft for preschoolers.
“I wanted my students to know how and why the math works, and to apply their new skills to build something other students might need,” he said.
The applied geometry course uses hands-on activities to teach geometry concepts such as perimeter, area, volume, similar figures, transformations, constructions, right triangle trigonometry and applications, quadrilaterals, polygons, coordinate geometry, triangle congruence and conic sections.
While building the literacy loft, Esposito’s students learned rise over run to build stairs, to listen and accept the ideas of others while brainstorming, how to measure angles and how to put their new math skills to use with building tools.
The literacy loft is a raised wooden platform with railings accessible by stairs and a space underneath for a theater, kitchen set or more reading. It took a year to complete the project thanks to the hard work of Esposito and his applied geometry students with Alfred State students and teachers Dan Drake and Jack Jones. Now, it just needed a home.
Esposito found a local preschool that could use the literacy loft. So, together with George English, director of transportation and facilities, and facilities staff, the loft was delivered in pieces to Liberty Post Stars Preschool in Gates. Each applied geometry student had a task to accomplish during the on-site rebuild, such as putting railings on the loft, adding handrails and securing the stairs in place.
Esposito worked with fellow Gates Chili teachers Tyrone Allison; Maryann Gross, teacher aide; Richard Pound, assistant principal; and Jared Starbird, as well as students Cuneyit Barut, John Catalano Jr., Johnae Junious, Xavier Mateo, Makayla Pizzo and Leilani Thomas to build the literacy loft while preschools played on the playground.
Students who helped but were not present at the on-site build are Johammsonn Banks, Mohamed Ibrahim, Shelby Stepherson, Kiet Tran, Terrance Walker and Alissa Zimmer.
The preschoolers arrived back in their classroom and had a quick lesson on calm bodies, quiet voices and listening ears to use the literacy loft.
Liberty Post Stars Preschool special education teacher Melissa LePore, a Gates Chili graduate, said her students were excited to start using the literacy loft for the book area, and the little nook underneath would be a house or a pretend play area.
“Todd was able to do so much teaching through this,” LePore said. “Gifting it so I can do teaching through it, it’s wonderful.”
“It made me feel good, because it’s given to the community,” Thomas said. “It’s giving kids the joy of being able to have something new to read and play on.”
“I think a lot of kids should have a loft in their classroom, so they can experience math,” Pizzo said.