The Dublin Partners in Education CARE grant continues to yield dividends at our 12 schools. When we began the distribution of funds, we also led a discussion with site leadership about the parameters for how the funds could be employed. The purchases must touch at least one of the DPIE pillars which include: Career & College Exploration, Arts Education, Resources for Teachers and Education Enrichment. One school was very definitive in its choice. In a word: Books. Not just any books. These publications would have the opportunity to reach each and every student at Dublin Elementary. We sat down with Instructional Coach Kim Van Lare to discuss the recent arrival of the new Guided Reading Leveled books. What we received in return were some great insights. Equally important, she provided a wonderful reading guide for parents/guardians.
DPIE: Explain how the school site became so decisive in determining that these book series would provide the greatest benefit to the school?
Kim Van Lare: “There has been a need to refresh the book room ever since Dublin Elementary and Nielsen combined back in 2008. Most of the books were purchased in the 1990's for each of the schools. When the new Dublin El community came together, the book rooms were combined but never fully integrated. At some grades, these are books that students get to take home to practice reading at home, so there has also been loss over the years. Teachers have been struggling to use the book room because there weren't enough books at certain levels. Now they can choose which books are best to offer to particular students instead of just having to pick from what's left. Some books are also just out of date! It's nice to update them to modern books. Everyone had recognized this need for years, but it needed funding and effort to make it happen. So, thank you DPIE and all your donors!”
DPIE: From a practical standpoint, how will the teachers and students work together to get the most out of this tool?
Van Lare: “When students are learning to read in the lower grades, it is important that they have books they can read with good accuracy. There need to be a few challenges too, but they need to be able to read and comprehend most of the text. Teachers assess the students and then use that knowledge to pick books that are exactly at the student's level. They need to be successful and still challenged, but not overwhelmed. As students go up through the grades, they can read a broader range of books, but teachers select specific titles to correlate with their Language Arts, Science, and Math curriculum. For instance, we got books on rocks and minerals so fourth grade students can use the books for research in small groups in class. We also purchased some very practical and useful teacher's guides to help teachers maximize the effectiveness of the book room books.”
DPIE: How did the staff go about selecting these titles? Are they old favorites or more newer titles?
Van Lare: “We looked at the collection and identified the gaps in levels. We discussed buying more copies of the old titles, but many were out of print and the others were very expensive, so we decided to modernize instead. Then we focused on purchasing non-fiction books and books that reflect our diversity since we didn't have many of those in our collection. At upper grades we really focused on the curriculum and how to support it.”
DPIE: When these books come home, how can parents/guardians best facilitate learning with their students?
Van Lare: “The main things parents can do is read, read, read with their child! Have them read in the car on the way home from school. Have them read during any downtime. Have them read at bedtime. Have them read again on the way back to school. Pick the times that work best for your family. Students, especially those in the lower grades and those learning English, learn from that repetition. On the first reading, they're trying to figure the words out. On the second reading, they're focused more on the message. But readings three-five are the ones that help move the words into their long-term memory.”
Ms. Van Lare also offered this advice when reading with your student. If your child gets stuck on a word, give them about five seconds for them to figure it out on their own. Then there are many different prompts you can use:
Sound it out. (phonics)
Start at the beginning and say the first sound. (phonics)
Try flipping the vowel to a long vowel. (phonics)
Did you look at the picture? (meaning)
What would make sense? (meaning)
Try that again and think what would sound right. (structure)
Read from the beginning and try it again.
Does that make sense and sound right?
And then after reading, of course, it's good to compliment them on their reading but quickly refocus on talking to them about the book's content. Ask questions such as:
What was your favorite part of the book?
What was funny about the story?
What did you learn from this book?
What did it make you wonder?
Does this remind you of anything that's happened to you?
Does this remind you of any other books you've read or shows you've seen?
Does this remind you of anything in real life?
DPIE would like to thank Kim Van Lare for sharing the journey of the grant awarded and how it will be expended. Ultimately, these publications will be stored in a Book Room – separate from the library. At final count, almost 2,000 books will be delivered. Did you know that Sharks can read? At Dublin Elementary School – they do!