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.

Another Summer School Book Fair

A to Z Literacy Movement had the privilege to host another local book fair this morning at Coventry Elementary School in Crystal Lake. Over one hundred students in grades first through fifth came to check out the selection of free books and then choose a few for their home libraries.

As we strive to meet our 2016 goals, A to Z will continue to provide books for children in McHenry County and other parts of Illinois in hopes in making a difference locally by promoting the love of reading and increasing literacy levels.

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!

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.

Summer Clean Out + Garage Sale Season = Savers Drop Off

   

Attention A to Z Literacy supporters- we want your junk! Don’t forget the Savers store in Crystal Lake has designated us as their pilot non-profit for their “Choose Your Cause” promotion. What this means is that anytime you bring a donation to Savers thrift store and mention A to Z Literacy Movement, they weigh the poundage you  donate and pay us per pound! Bring your garage sale leftovers, your outgrown summer gear, your college bound teen’s odds and ends.  This is an ongoing promotion- keep us in mind whenever you have goods to pass along. Sorry, furniture, tires and liquids cannot be counted toward our fundraising promo.

Thanks so much for your help and for spreading the word.

Little Treasures Between the Pages

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As one of the book gatherers for A to Z Literacy Movement, I see a great number of books come into our hands. Occasionally the books contain secret treasures, flattish objects that someone who once held the book stored away inside.
Typically, they are bookmarks, but we see other items: a book’s receipt or scraps of paper with notes written on them. We picture a student patiently using the E.Z. Reader strip and see that a miniature ten-spot suitably became a bookmark. Even plastic toys wind up in books as the accompanying picture shows.
We are ever appreciative of our book donors, as we couldn’t do our work without them. And we’re reminded of the tale within the book when something slips out from it’s pages.
By Pat Kelly

Teens Making a Difference

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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.