Proven Program Ideas - Part 2
Who can believe we are already six, seven, eight weeks into the school year? CLiF set new records for number of books distributed and kids reached through Summer Readers, and, by mid-October, four Vermont and four New Hampshire schools have kicked off CLiF Year of the Book, and six of twelve rural libraries have grants underway. This month’s update includes four more CLiF partner-tested program ideas to inspire your year.
PK Picture Reads to Therapy Dogs
“Watching their joy, laughter, and excitement speaks for itself.”
How it worked: The children picture read books of their choice every day for ten minutes – sometimes they read to themselves, to each other, or to a stuffed animal. Four times during the school year, preschoolers took home books to picture read with their families. Then a therapy dog and their handler would visit the classroom, giving each child the opportunity to picture read their books to a furry friend. After each visit the children would make class books about their experience through photos, drawings, and teacher scribing. The children also created dog therapy bookmarks, and, following a recipe, they made dog biscuits for their dog friends. The school library also received books about therapy dogs/working dogs.
Results: “Very successful – well received by children, parents, the school and the community – several children on I E P’s for language development and social/emotional delays asked to picture read their books more than once – connected this unit to other community workers/volunteers – many connections between how the handlers/dogs worked hard to become certified therapy dogs and how children work hard for something they want – many discussions on empathy – helping other children and adults who are sick, sad, or lonely feel better – have already booked handlers/dogs for the next school year.”
Goal Setting for Self-Esteem
“Students and staff felt energized and the felt inspired to pursue their passions.”
How it worked: Based on the students’ developmental stages, the teacher read the following books: Incredible You, Unstoppable Me, My Book About Me, Being Me: A kid’s guide to boosting confidence and self-esteem, and The Me I See: Learning through writing and reflection. She integrated these books with creating personal journals and utilizing writing prompts. They expressed their personality and creativity through a collage on the journal cover. Students had time to read and write in class followed by classroom discussions. During their personal writing time, they developed goals. One activity that was really successful for the middle school kids was Positive Word Descriptors, which built students’ vocabulary as well as their self-esteem. A student would pick a positive word out of a bag; if this attribute was one that they identified with, they could keep it, if it was not they had to give it to a classmate in an affirmative tone. They kept the words for their journal collages.
Results: The combination of writing, reading and discussion gave the students a heightened sense of self, which positively impacted their self-esteem and assisted with setting personal goals. Setting goals was important, because students need to believe that they can achieve their hopes and dreams.
Lunchtime Book Group
“The greatest evidence that I have that this program was successful is that students don’t want to stop coming.“
How it worked: The interventionist bought approximately four copies of many of the 2014-2015 DCF books. Students in fifth and sixth grade who wanted to be part of this group came to her room Monday through Thursday at lunchtime. They voted on the books that they wanted to read, and either read all together or in two groups. Because they were usually eating at the time, audiobooks of the choices were either bought with additional money or borrowed from www.listenupvermont.org. Earlier DCF titles were also made available to the group. Unfortunately, long lunch lines hindered the time; 30 minute lunch time often translated to 15 minutes. She allowed outgoing fifth graders to check out unread titles for the summer.
Results: “A teacher’s greatest reward is to hear “Awwwww!” when students are told there is no more time to continue reading the story that we have been reading. I heard this almost every day of book group. I’ve also recently begun hearing, “When we do this next year, can we….” which excites me even more, because it means that the students are a step closer to becoming life-long readers. Let me tell you about the girl who said this. She came into fifth grade this year at an approximate reading level of 2.2. The classroom teacher was reluctant to let her join the book club, because she has behavioral issues and worried that she would hold the group back, but I…let her try. This young lady became an avid member of the group, added wonderful ideas to our discussion, and I’m happy to say that [when she was next tested], her reading level had increased to an end of fourth grade level.”
The Art of Letter Writing
“One student asked if they could write messages on the inside of their card just like Hallmark does!”
Goal: “The ultimate goal was to create a basket of blank cards for the front office to use to send out to people who did something or gave something to our school. This was an opportunity to start a new trend – use student-created original artwork and writing to send a REAL thank you card.”
How it worked: The teacher ordered several children’s books about how to write letters and thank you notes. As part of her writing curriculum, students worked on writing letters throughout the year. A watercolor artist visited the class and taught students how to tape down watercolor cards to create a ‘border’. Then the artist taught them how to create various paintings on the card (American flag, Vermont scenery, sunset…etc). Each student painted five cards, three for the school and two for the students. They were excited that their cards will be used by the principal, secretary and other teachers. She also did a lesson using pen and ink. In conjunction with a unit on Africa, students did a simple black ink drawing of a mom and her children. They cut and pasted the drawings onto the cards and will use them as well. One thing left to do is to decide how to mark cards as original student works of art.
Results: “Several days after we made the cards, I noticed a couple of students folding paper. I asked them what they were doing and they said they were making their own cards! They folded the paper, drew a pen/ink drawing, and then wrote on the back of the card that it was an original piece of artwork! When students take it upon themselves to continue a project on their own….you know they are hooked!”
The CLiF staff looks forward to sharing with you the program ideas generated by the current program partners!
Have a Happy Back to School! - Original Artwork by Grace Ahmed