In the Spotlight:
Sandra is the WILDCAT READERS’ Coordinator at North Union Elementary. This program continues to be amazing with school-wide support, and test scores to show its success. 85 students are mentored by 22 mentors 4-5 days a week. Added this year: When a student finishes a book and the lessons with it, the mentor reads a trade book to the student. The mentor asks questions about the plot, characters, setting, etc. This helps a student develop a sense of story, and exposes them to a higher level vocabulary the student can understand now, but not yet read.
Training Mentors: Our mentor training that is held each year at the beginning of the year. We go through our mentoring checklist of tasks. I explain each mentoring task at the training, and I also have a mentoring guide that each mentor is given to study before the start of the program. It explains how the cold, warm and hot reads are done and how they are scored. It also explains how every student needs to go back to the book’s passage to locate and highlight the sentence or sentences that give the answers for the comprehension quick check. I go into detail about what is expected when the student writes an extended response. Everything done during the mentoring sessions is explained in this mentoring guide.
Motivators: A WILDCAT READER’s name is drawn each month from the parent slips that are signed and returned. That student chooses a staff member with whom to have lunch. This is so exciting to our students and staff; students getting to have lunch with their favorite person, and staff members having the honor of being chosen.
Mentors turn in names of students that have had great hot reads, wonderful extended responses, or those putting forth great effort during mentoring sessions. The students are thrilled to hear their names announced during morning announcements, and take great pride in their accomplishments.
Each year we have an end of the year celebration. We have cookies and punch and each student receives a certificate and a small gift. It is a great way to end the year!
Our Annual Open House for WILDCAT READERS is held every year in November. We invite all the families of our WILDCAT READERS. We have games and prizes for the students and siblings in our gym.
Parents gather in our cafeteria and are presented with information about the Wildcat Readers program, and they get to meet the mentors that work with their children on a daily basis.
We also have door prizes that are provided by our generous area businesses. We had a great turn out again this year, with the parents really showing a lot of interest in the program.
For the second year, we held our Medieval Testing Feast. I came up with the idea last year, and the students seem to love it. The Medieval Testing Feast is held the day before our third grade students take the state test.
All third graders are served a meal by our mentors. We have medieval music, an acrobat, juggler, and Court Jester to entertain our students. We have banners, Principal Hoffman is Queen of Wildcat Kingdom, and our Assistant Principal Allison served as our Royal Knight.
The Court Jester asks questions relevant to the test, and students receive gold coin candy for correct answers. The Jester also tells some medieval jokes. The Royal Knight slays the dragon with a sword as students are asked test questions (the secret weapons), and with every correct answer swipes the dragon with the sword. Eventually they are victorious and destroy the testing dragon.
This Feast seems to relieve some of the stress, and show students that we believe in them and have every confidence that they will do their very best. Principal Hoffman and I give talks at the end to encourage our students.
Sandy: “We all have so much confidence in you and can see all the great effort you’ve put forth this year. This test will tell us many things, but it won’t tell us everything about you.
It won’t tell us how kind and caring you all are. How your friends depend on you to be there for them. It won’t tell us what a great son or daughter you are, or how your little brothers and sisters look up to you.
It won’t be able to see the smile on your face that brightens the day for your teachers as you walk into their classrooms. It won’t tell us how you can dance or sing or play baseball, softball, basketball or football.
It certainly won’t tell us any of these things, but we know and we love all of you for the special people you are. You are all winners in our eyes! Good luck tomorrow!!!”
Our Art Teacher, Jessica, here at North Union Elementary, mentors a student this year who was struggling with confidence. At first the student read so softly that Jessica could barely hear her.
Through many mentoring sessions and with lots of encouragement, this student has become a much better reader. She now reads with confidence, using expression and proper pauses. Jessica kept encouraging her, telling her what a beautiful reader she has become. She told her she should read to her class, and that they would surely enjoy it.
At the end of one day, our Librarian came into the Art classroom and told Jessica that her student needed her. Jessica had just sent her art students back to their classroom. She hurriedly walked to the library wondering what was wrong. Was the student upset? Was she not feeling well? She walked into the library, and her Wildcat Reader student told her that she was going to read aloud to her class, and she wanted Jessica to be there. The student did a beautiful job!
Jessica was so proud of her, and is so humbled and honored to be her mentor. We have wonderful mentors here at NU Elementary that make such a difference in the lives of so many children.