Reflecting on Professional Learning in Zambia

As the 2016-17 school year began last week, I spent some time reflecting on the summer months along with A to Z’s work in Zambia this past June. A wonderful memory that continues to linger in my mind is our day of professional development with 150 Zambian teachers at School of Hope.

Teachers from all over the area came together to learn and grow; men and women wanting to make a difference in the lives of their students. Dave, Betty and I provided teachers with opportunities to attend sessions on reading, writing, asking questions, and literacy in content areas. There was something for everyone.

Without a doubt, I am confident that A to Z is continuing to impact the lives of Zambian students and teachers. Although our nonprofit is small, our educational impact is large.  By providing valuable support, we have increased literacy levels and the love of reading within schools and communities.

Faces of Zambia

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As the A to Z team has been reflecting on our recent visits to Shine Zambia Reading Academy and School of Hope, I thought a blog of photos would be fun to share. We are extremely grateful to you, our supporters, and without you, our work in Zambia would not be possible. Thank you for believing in our mission and thank you for your continued support of helping to increase literacy levels in impoverished communities.

 

 

 

Crystal Lake Central Juniors Creating *Books in Bags*

A to Z Literacy Movement is grateful to Mrs. Welder’s English class of Crystal Lake Central juniors for once again taking on the wonderful project of *Books in Bags*. Each CLC student chooses a fiction or nonfiction picture book and practices reading and rereading the book aloud. The students then head to the school library to record their reading with Mrs. Nelson, Crystal Lake Central’s librarian.  Once the recording is complete, the students create a short comprehension check and discussion guide with questions and prompts to be answered or discussed by students in our Zambian partner schools. The *Books in Bags* are a fantastic asset to any classroom or library listening station, and we are really excited about this year’s selection of picture books. Thank you so much to the teachers and students involved in this literacy project!

Looking Back at 2015

annual report 2015

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” – Kofi Annan

With the holidays over and the January deep freeze settling in, A to Z is proud to look back at 2015 and celebrate many accomplishments. As you view our annual report above, you’ll notice we shipped 57 boxes of children’s books to four different countries in 2015 while donating 27 boxes to local groups in here McHenry county. That’s about 6,000 books in all!  88% of contributions to our nonprofit went to program expenses which included funding for four Zambian student scholarships, six months of school lunch, professional development for over 150 Zambian teachers, and a yearly salary for one teacher. A to Z is grateful to you for continuing to believe in our mission and we are humbled with your generosity. We believe books provide the “what can be…” in life for so many children in impoverished communities, helping them to see the world through different lenses. Without you, we would not be able to promote the love of reading and increase literacy levels around the world. Thank you. Thank you! Thank you.

Just How Many Boxes?

As 2015 wraps up, A to Z Literacy Movement wanted to share a few numbers and a bit of information about the boxes of children’s books we shipped and gave away this year.
Globally: 57 boxes of books made their way to Zambia, Ghana, Swaziland, and the Dominican Republic.
Locally: 27 boxes of books were shared with children in McHenry County.
Without your generous and continued support, we could not have donated the 84 boxes of children’s books to schools, churches, and other nonprofits who are working to increase the love of reading in children. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

A Few Words From Vineet Bhatnagar, Founder of Shine Zambia Reading Academy

“Having worked with A to Z Literacy since building our literacy school, Shine Zambia Reading Academy in 2009, I know personally how much their help has contributed to the success of our school.  Not just support through financial sponsorship of teachers’ allowances and pupil lunches, or through books donated and shipped to Zambia to stock our school library, but in the training provided to our teachers.  This training has been given by Mal and various volunteers who have sacrificed their time to work with our teachers for around a week almost every summer for the past 5 years.

I wanted to find out first hand how A to Z and its visits to our school over the years have impacted our teachers, so I asked them.  Upon my request, our teachers had a meeting to discuss it and wrote back to me with feedback.  The teachers unanimously agreed that they had all been greatly impacted by the A to Z training sessions and feel their teaching style has improved.  They specifically mentioned the strategies they were taught for reading with pupils, improving pupil writing skills and conducting group discussions in class.  Here’s a quote from our Head Teacher, David Mulenga, about writing strategies: “We were particularly astounded at how well our own Year 2 pupils were able to write, all by themselves. We learned this particularly from Dave. He would show them a picture card and ask them to say what they can see from it and he wrote those things on the blackboard. He would then ask the pupils to write their own stories about any of those things written on the board. Wow!  It was amazing to see the ideas that came from the children!”

We truly appreciate A to Z Literacy’s guidance over the years in making our literacy program even stronger and we hope to continue working in partnership for many years to come.” – Vineet Bhatnagar

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Without you, we would not be able to meet our goals of promoting literacy to students in Zambia and providing professional development to teachers where the need is substantial. Thank you for understanding the mission of global literacy and the importance of reading.

Yes, I wish to make a special year-end gift to help get books into the hands of children who want read. (click here)

A to Z Literacy Movement, Inc is a non-profit 501c3 organization. Your tax-deductible contribution will help promote literacy and increase the love of reading for children living in poverty-stricken areas.

Teens Making a Difference

Photo Feb 18, 11 01 32 PM                 image (8)

By Mal Keenan

What do you get when you take a group of high school juniors and the desire to do something for others? Treasured gifts…gifts for vulnerable children miles from their Crystal Lake Central English classroom.

Earlier this year, I shared the work of A to Z Literacy Movement with Angela Welder’s junior English class. The students were searching for a service learning project and decided to lend a helping hand to the nonprofit. They took on the challenge to create Book in Bags for Shine Zambia Reading Academy.

The teens gathered children’s books and began practicing their reading fluency, attending to speed and expression. Other Crystal Lake Central teachers like Kylene Gott became involved, coaching them along, until these inspiring juniors were ready to record their voices with library media center director Diana Nelson.

After the story recordings were complete, the students created a page to be paired with the book that included information about them, a picture of the reader, along with a few questions about the story to be considered.

On June 11th, I’ll head back to Zambia with all of the Books in Bags to share with the children at Shine. The students will listen to the stories and hear the kind and compassionate voices of Crystal Lake Central teens who are choosing to make a difference. What amazing gifts of service and literacy.