Thank you Marilyn and Suzie for your graciousness.
Everything that can be used again is laminated.
Autumn Stories to Warm Your Heart!
–as told by their coordinator
When Jim first asked to mentor, I wasn’t sure it would work because he reads at a low level. He’s a sophomore in the special education classroom. He would be in the Mentoring Room with 3rd graders. Then we added four 2nd grade special ed. students. Jim asked to mentor once a week. So I paired him with Randy, and I could tell that Jim loved working with him. Jim asked if he could mentor more than once a week, and I said yes. Recently he asked if he could take it as a class for high school credit.
Jim told me that he had been mentored in reading, and wanted to help someone like they had helped him. This touched my heart! This is what it’s all about! God is good all the time!
“Football players aren’t the only ones looked up to on Friday nights on that field.”
This is another sweet thing I witnessed at the beginning of the third quarter, after the band’s halftime show tonight. Jim and I were talking when one of the second graders he mentors walked up to him. Jim has been very excited about helping our students improve their reading skills. We paired Jim up with one little boy who has no male role models, and has other challenges to overcome in school.
So Jim’s second grader walked up to him (Jim was still in full band uniform) and looked up with admiring eyes and told Jim that he played “good.” Then the 2nd grader offered Jim a candy from the bag he was carrying. Jim took one, thanking him. The little boy said, “Would you like to walk around with me, buddy?” Jim, with a huge smile, said he had to stay with the band as they were about to begin playing again. This 2nd grader smiled really big, looking at Jim as if he was a rock star.
My heart melted. There is much more than reading intervention that goes on in our room. These two are forming a bond that will positively affect them for quite a while.
“I attached a document I found online that was free… and it’s my theme!! I love the reading strategies mixed with the fun superheroes. I think my students will love them. I simply mounted them on colorful construction paper, laminated them, and now they make an awesome and functional room decoration!”
Bethany, Hilfiker Elementary School
The Reading Mentoring Program at Hilfiker Elementary is a place where students and mentors are inspired to read. Before the mentoring program begins, Bethany brings in the K-3 students to walk around the classroom, to explain the motivating activities, and to answer their questions.
Bethany’s new idea to improve mentoring is to have a “Two Week Focus Goal” for the mentors. Every 2 weeks she will give each mentor a paper explaining the Focus Goal. Bethany will explain the goal to each group of mentors (and students if it applies to them) before their session that week. By focusing on one task at a time, it will remind past mentors of things they may have forgotten to do, and it will give the new mentors one special thing to focus on for the two weeks. “For example: next week our “Two Week Focus Goal” will be stickers on the pages of the books. I’ve noticed a lot of people forget to do this. This is a skill the students can help with, so I will go over the goal with students and mentors before each session. I will explain how the students earn a sticker on each page (for reading it with 0 or 1 self-corrected mistake). If the mentors forget, I’m thinking the students will remind them! Another week we will focus on timed readings (discussing colors to use and how to record errors, etc.)– this one will not be done with the students. I think 2 weeks focusing on each skill— that way they’ll have it mastered!”
Update: The new idea of a TWO WEEK FOCUS started this week. We’re kicking off with an easier one… stickers. I printed the focus on the bottom 1/2 of card stock and folded it in half so it sets on the desks. Before each session I explained to the students and mentors we will be focusing on one aspect of mentoring for 2 weeks. Then I explained what the first focus was and how they use the stickers. I encouraged the students to remind their mentors to put stickers on the page. It was a success. After Christmas break we will tackle timed readings and using the correct colors on each day! Yikes!
January: Two Week Focus is going great. When I’m explaining the focus, so many mentors are saying, “Oh, that is me, I didn’t do that” or “Oh, I forgot that.” Currently our focus is timed readings and using the right colors. This is a big one. Most use the correct colors on the graphs, but not on the fluency passages. I’ve seen a big difference on both the fluency passages and the graphs, and we’re only one week in on this focus!!
Recruiting ideas—Check the high school FTA organization, National Honor Society students and church youth groups– any group that requires kids to have community service hours. Juniors who went to HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation program for high school sophomores) are required to have 100 hours in their junior year of community service. (Usually 2 from every school go.) I ask employees who work in our community when I shop at their stores…. Networking, networking, networking!!!
January: With all the being said weather-wise, we do have some good things happening, too. For example, I have some high school students who are starting their second semester classes, and they don’t have a study hall this semester. They went to their teachers to ask if they can miss class once a week so they can continue mentoring (several did this). They have to make up the work on their own time! I also had one high school student who is taking college classes as well, and she intentionally scheduled her college classes around her mentoring time! That’s good stuff!!
Success Stories—Bethany was walking second graders back to class. She saw a little guy who had been mentored in first grade, stopped, and asked his teacher how he was doing. The teacher said he was doing very well. Excellent grades and a great student. He is now in third grade and he continues to excel. His mentoring in first grade was the boost he needed to read better and gain self-confidence. An Intervention Specialist told Bethany that she had 3 SLD students that needed more time in reading, while she worked with fifth graders. Could they be mentored those 30 minutes? In the spring, all 3 of those students passed the OAA. Bethany has a lot of support from the third grade teachers and the Intervention Specialist.
I had a lot of one on one time with my students and I was able to figure out where some of them are struggling. One example was a 2nd grade girl who has great comprehension, but her fluency is very poor. I figured out she knows her phonic skills, but for some reason is not able to blend sounds together to make the connection of the sounds into a word. I spent that day and the following day teaching her how to do it. Then she came back to me and said she was working on it at home!! So fun!
Mentors helping- Lastly, my mentors have been finding out about how candy and books are great incentives to get the students to read at home, so they’ve been bringing in donations. I have stacks of books, boxes of candy my mother-in-law got from a store who donated it in Fremont, and someone who’s going shopping for small toys from the Dollar Tree!
“Minions” of Books… So Little Time! 2015-16 Bethany credits her awesome room’s theme to movie theaters, pinterest, ideas from her daughter… Before the mentoring begins, Bethany brings in the K-3 students to walk around the classroom, to explain the motivating activities, and to answer their questions. What a great place to be to improve your reading! “Reading is Awesome”: LEGO Themed Mentoring/Reading Room 2014-15 Thank you Bethany! Bethany has the mentoring room decorated with a LEGO theme. The LEGO movie’s theme song is “Everything is Awesome” which Bethany turned into “Reading is Awesome”. Some of these ideas came from Pinterest, with her creating this enjoyable learning atmosphere! Bethany shared that returned Parent Signatures greatly improved when students received a small reward for every signature. Mentors can choose a Leveled Book to read with their students when time permits. The last photo shows her “best time saver”. This envelope is placed into the folder with the “Master Copy”. Then the master is copied, book made, cards cut… and placed into the brown envelope. The brown envelope has everything in it to refill the student’s folder when needed. The sticky note on the brown envelope tells her whose folder it goes into next.
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.