A Letter to Mr. Sindoni

Shirley FreemanToday, we hear from CIS volunteer and Bookbug staff extraordinare, Shirley Freeman. As part of the Chapel Hill/Portage United Methodist Church initiative to help students attain the Kalamazoo Promise, Shirley began tutoring at Parkwood-Upjohn Elementary School. Ten years later, she’s still at it. Two years into her volunteer service, she received specialized training from SLD Read, a nonprofit community resource serving West Michigan. Through SLD Read’s training and on-going support, Shirley is able to provide individualized, one-to-one multisensory instruction in reading, writing and spelling for at-risk readers in first, second and third grades. 

Dear Mr. Sindoni,

I often tell the story of my 7th grade year. How I was kicked off every field trip that year – generally for being sassy and talking too much. I know part of it was that we had a new boy in school, Dave Tobey, and he was a bit older and more physically mature than most boys in my class. He was a bit of an instigator and I certainly didn’t resist going along. No one who knows me now can believe I was kicked off any field trip, let alone every one.

I always think of you when telling the story because at some point toward the end of 7th grade, you called me in and talked to me about my behavior. You said that I was “going off the deep end.” I’ll never forget it. And then, the best part – at the beginning of 8th grade, you asked Dawn and me to help with something. You trusted us with a position of responsibility. Thank you. I will always be grateful for your intervention and your trust.

Shirley Freeman

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Who is your Mr. Sindoni? If you are up to the challenge of reflecting on and writing a letter to your caring adult, email it to jclark@ciskalamazoo.org and we just might publish it!

Eleven Tips To Beat The Summer Slide

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Finally. Summer is here. But taking a “break” from learning during the summer months is hazardous to a student’s education. According to the National Summer Learning Association more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning activities. Summer reading loss is cumulative. Children simply don’t “catch up” in fall when they return to school. Their classmates who read over the summer are moving ahead with their skills. By the end of 6th grade children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates. Here, in no particular order, are eleven tips for grown ups to help kids stay on the path to success over the summer months:

1.  Take advantage of our fabulous public library! Visit the library often and let kids pick out their own books. They are the best experts about what they like. Studies have shown that students who read recreationally out-performed those who don’t. Students read more when they can choose materials based on their own interests.

2.  Make sure they (and you!) sign up for the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Summer Reading Program.

3.  Check out the “Kids & Parents” section of the Kalamazoo Public Library’s website, which features great tips for parents and caregivers, upcoming events, as well as staff picks for books for both parents and kids.

4.  Be a reading role model.

5.  Read as a family.

6.  Talk to kids about what they are reading and what you are reading.

7.  At a loss for what to read? Check out what KPL staff are reading and recommending. I also adore The Cyberlibrarian Reads, which is a blog by a retired librarian, lifelong reader, and local Kalamazoo resident, Miriam Downey. You can also check out this fascinating list of titles on the TED blog to see what Bill and Melinda Gates and others are reading this summer.  After looking it over, I think I’m going to read one of Clay Shirky’s picks, “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” by Danah Boyd.

8.  Visit the Bookbug, an independent bookstore located at Oakwood Plaza. Stop down on any Thursday at 10am for Storytime, Songs and Activities.

9.  Let your child read their way to a free book. Stop by Barnes & Noble and pick up one of their summer reading sheets. Children read eight books (they don’t have to be purchased from Barnes & Noble) and then return with the completed sheet to choose a free book.

10.  Last June, Julie Mack shared five strategies Superintendent Michael Rice suggests parents adopt to help build their child’s reading skills over the summer. Refresh your memory and read it here.

11. Tune in every Tuesday and read the latest post at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids!

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Avoid The Summer Setback—READ!

IMG_94043-300x200Taking a “break” from learning during the summer months is hazardous to a student’s education. According to the National Summer Learning Association more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning activities. Here, in no particular order, are nine tips for grown ups to help kids on the path to success:

Visit the library and let kids pick out their own books. They are the best experts about what they like.

Sign up for the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Summer Reading Program.

Be a reading role model. (At a loss for what to read? Check out what KPL staff are reading and recommending. I also adore The Cyberlibrarian Reads, which is a blog by a retired librarian, lifelong reader, and local Kalamazoo resident, Miriam Downey.)

Read as a family.

Talk to kids about what they are reading and what you are reading.

Visit the Bookbug, an independent bookstore located at Oakwood Plaza. Stop down on any Thursday at 10am for All-Ages Storytime, Songs and Activities. Consider playing “Where’s Waldo?” with them in July.

Check out this terrific list of summer reading recommendations that Kalamazoo Public School staff have compiled for students of all ages.

If you missed Julie Mack’s piece in which she shares five strategies Superintendent Michael Rice suggests parents adopt to help build their child’s reading skills over the summer, you can find it here.

I must mention that as I’m writing this post, my freshly graduated second grader just peered over my shoulder and asked what I am working on. When I told him I was putting together a list for ways grownups can help kids this summer he said, “Just remind everybody that it is fun to read. And make sure you capitalize it all: IT IS FUN TO READ!”

So there you have it, have some fun. READ!

Summer Slide