Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NJEA Classroom Close Up

This film was made by NJEA Classroom Close Up about the Literature Links program that we created to help parents read with their children strategically. The producer, Adam Bauser, wrote his thoughts about the Literature Links program and how it changed his own reading time with his kids in a post entitled, Unlocking the Keys to Reading with Your Child. His post was the "ripple effect" I was hoping for when I sought out the Target grant over a year ago!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Race To Nowhere

I wanted to share a link to a film, Race to Nowhere, I watched with some friends last night at Haddonfield High School. It was a powerful film about the effects of the demanding educational standards parents, teachers, colleges have on some kids. It looked closely at what kids are doing to their bodies to keep up with not only their academics, but also their religious classes, sports and community work. Stating that kids don't get into good school just because of academics. They need to be almost perfect at everything in order to be considered at some colleges.
A large part of the movie was devoted to the research that did not support hours and hours of homework. Yet, homework seemed to be the single thread that was stressing the kids out and causing them to take stimulants, not sleep and cheat. The film also looked at what these kids were learning. Many kids pointed out they can't remember what information they learned on tests or homework because they just needed to "cram it in and then let it out". Doctors and lawyers spoke about how the young adults coming into their profession can't think. They are so used to being "coached". This was a scary thought for them because who will be the leaders in their professions if no one is thinking.
I took a lot away from this film as a Mommy. "What homework do you have tonight?", will not be the first thing out of my mouth when I greet my 2nd grader anymore! As a teacher, I am looking into my homework practices. Two books about the homework topic in the film.
Librarians have a role in adding inquiry into their collaborative projects. Leading the way to show the importance of critical thinking for our students not simple recall.
It was quite a powerful film. Please leave a comment if you have seen the film and it moved you as well.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Literature Links

The MHA library was the recipient of an Early Childhood Reading Grant from Target stores this summer. Whoo hoo! With budgets shrinking and programs being cut, the grant was welcomed news. The grant allowed me to create a program called Literature Links. The goal of the program was simple: To Help Parents and Kids Connect with Books through Strategic Reading. Research shows that when parents become involved in their children reading their children reading achievement grows and stronger families of readers are built. (Darling, Westberg 2004)

The Literature Links parent book club studied the book 7 Keys to Comprehension by Susan Zimmermann. In the book, 7 comprehension strategies were examined to help readers make meaning from the texts. At the Literature Links Book Club, parents learned about these strategies each week. Through interactive activities parents were encouraged to “Try It!” with their own children.

In order to help parents continue to utilize the strategies they learned in the book club and to reach out to other families unable to attend, a library backpack program was developed. The MHA library now offers 30 backpacks to circulate among K-2 students. Each of the 30 backpacks contain two library books based on a theme. The backpacks also include a prompt sheet that should be used when families are reading and discussing the theme’s literature. Parents are able to use these prompts before, during or after the reading of the literature.

The program has been so successful at our school. Parents have been quite vocal of how much they have learned from this program. Literature Links will even be featured on an upcoming segment of the NJEA show Classroom Close Up! I am presenting this idea to other NJ librarians this Thursday at our local Barnes and Noble. I have included the website that I will be sharing with them. It contains resources that librarians could use to begin a similar program in their library.


Happy Reading!