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.
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.
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!
“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
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.
Cabin Fever is settling in. It’s February and we all need a night out with friends.
Sure, we love our Midwestern winters, but we also recognize that shut-in feeling of not having seen many folks due to the colder temps.
It’s time to do something. Something fun.
It’s time to laugh, gather together, and support a fantastic non-profit.
It’s time for A to Z Trivia Night.
Head to the website for tickets – www.atozliteracy.org
By Mal Keenan
One reading activity I love to use in the classroom is 3-2-1. This quick formative assessment for determining importance works well as an exit slip in whole group and small group instruction.
Students are asked to write down three important facts/ideas, two key words, and one memorable sentence directly from the text.
3-2-1 was new to the students at School of Hope in Zambia. The 8th graders did a fantastic job reading a short article about Nelson Mandela and then a few pairs were brave enough to present to the rest of the class.
By Koriann Lance
This week, I presented one of my favorite class projects: the six-word memoir! This task is exactly as it sounds. Students must share their life story in 6 words, no more, no less.
For a preteen to create a memoir of only six words in length that can encapsulate their life is quite a feat! I realized how difficult when creating my own, but here it is:
I love this assignment for so many reasons. First, they have to surmise what is most important to them at this point in their life. They must then choose the most powerful words to get this message across. And then comes their favorite part – finding the picture and creating the visual display that will make their message pop! But my favorite part? Learning more about what my students hold dear.
The finished product of my students’ memoirs becomes a slideshow compilation to music selected by my students. This is on display for parents to see at our school’s Open House. The reactions are always priceless!
By Mal Keenan
There is power in a box of books.
Books can make a difference in a child’s life and within his community.
Books can raise reading levels and graduation rates. Books can help solve old problems and create critical thinkers.
As we continue to grow our organization, books remain at the center. We will always be working to get books onto shelves, into homes and classrooms, and in the hands of impoverished children.
“When I think back on all the refugee camps I visited, all over the world, the people always asked for the same thing: books. Sometimes even before medicine or shelter- they wanted books for their children.”
-Mary Anne Schwalbe, Founder Women’s Commission for Refugee Woman and Children