Our excitement is ramping up for the newest Year of the Book town kickoffs, and we are thinking a lot about successes and lessons learned when looking back over our first year of offering this grant. We have been excited to hear about the burgeoning relationships between the school and the public library, the changed culture among students who are now seeing books as “cool,” and the inspired poems written by children who used to claim they hated to write.
Nine months ago I sent my newly minted kindergartener off to school with a fresh set of markers, perfectly pointy crayons, a brand new clean lunchbox, and an excitement to be a part of something bigger, a community of kids with their own job and a place to do it.
The new Common Core Standards, have recently been adopted by 46 of the 50 states and will begin to be implemented in Vermont and New Hampshire in the coming school year.
These standards, initiated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, are internationally benchmarked and intended to raise the level of our nation’s education system and to help students better meet the challenges that face them in college and in the work environment.
Recently, the CLiF team visited Newbury Elementary School in Newbury, VT. NES is one of six elementary schools in Vermont and New Hampshire that have received CLiF’s Year of the Book grants. Year of the Book provides around $25,000 worth of fun literacy-based programs, support, and free new books for students to choose and keep over the course of the 2012-2013 school year.
On Monday, January 28, a few dozen students were running around the playground at Johnson Elementary School when they heard the sound of a loud engine approaching.
Heads turned as a green-and-white stock car barreled down the street towards the playground, only to stop right outside the fence.
Earlier this week, a manilla envelope packed with hand-written thank-you notes arrived at the CLiF office. They were all written by English Language Learner students at McLaughlin Middle School and Beech Street School, where CLiF presenters Duncan McDougall and Marty Kelley had given storytelling presentations and lead book giveaways for nearly 400 students in November.
CLiF knows that parents have a tremendous influence on the likelihood that their child will grow up a strong reader and writer. That’s why we strive to include parents whenever possible in our programs.
In all of CLiF’s Year of the Book schools, for example, parents are asked to sign a Read to Me contract agreeing to read with their child at least twice a week all year long.
Last week, the New York Times‘ Opinionator blog featured an essay called “What Should Children Read?” by English teacher and writer Sarah Mosle. In the essay, Mosle highlights the new emphasis on nonfiction in the Common Core State Standards, “a set of national benchmarks, adopted by nearly every state, for the skills public school students should master in language arts and mathematics in grades K-12.”
According to Mosle, when the standards go into effect in 2014, 50 percent of all fourth-grade reading assignments will be nonfiction.