Last year I was presenting at the New Jersey Kindergarten Association. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Chappelear at that conference. Tim is a first grade teacher (and he became my tech support for the day he was designated volunteer).
I could not have been more thrilled than when I received this hello from first-grade email from him last week.
With Tim’s permission, I would like to share his words. (I have linked images with resources where appropriate)
What another crazy year in first grade. I thought of you constantly and was grateful to use your amazing resources yet again.
I was fortunate this year to have an ESL teacher in my classroom. Her desk was in my room, but the extra person to bounce ideas off of was a huge help!
Our numbers are growing even more this year as we open up more sections in each grade. Another article was published about our district as we now rank #2 for most economically disadvantaged district in the nation. That designation was bestowed by the Education Law Center at Rutgers University, which regularly evaluates the fairness of state school funding by looking at the distribution of resources relative to student poverty levels.
Amanda Litvinov summed up the article beautifully stating, “Reading’s problems go far beyond shabby facilities, with leaky pipes and cracked tiles and classroom trailers that have been in service for more than a decade. Far worse is how few Reading students have access to academic and counseling supports that are shown to counter the effects of deep poverty, a rich curriculum, or AP classes.”
Our governor was fighting to raise the dollar amount allocated to school districts. During the time he was pushing, he visited my elementary school and sat with my as I was teaching science! I guess my superintendent and governor heard that we are fighting so hard to give our students an equitable education! I was privileged, honored, humbled, etc. The teachers here are so #RSDProud in the difference they make everyday.
This summer I have been going nonstop trying to organize and utilize all of your amazing resources. I have aligned the grammar from your Guiding Readers to our current reading series “Reading Street.” Our principal loves that we supplement and offer so many opportunities to our young learners. She asks us to align what we can.
The biggest struggle for me each year is the difference in levels my students are on. I have usually have 2 students who have not attended kindergarten (which is not required in PA) placed on my roster. I normally have a group of below level learners (early blending AA), a good chunk of benchmark students (level B-C), and a handful of advanced (level D-F).
With the lack of support the kids need, it’s a slower gain especially for the students who were not in kindergarten. One thing that I loved this past year was the poetry. My kids loved singing and it was powerful to see them “perform” the poem at the end of the week! I gave each student the opportunity to stand up front and read the poem to practice fluency and our presenting skills. They love the spotlight!
The other amazing resource was the word work provided in the Guiding Readers. With 80% of our district being ESL, I cannot tell you how great it was to have the pictures with the word work. That piece was a huge help to the large number of kids in my room who were just learning English! It gave them confidence during centers to read the “I can” cards you included with your monthly bundles etc. The ESL resource teacher complimented me for using these resources after the first month of school ! I had no idea I was helping in anyway but am so grateful for the support.
As we are getting ready to start school and I am sending things to the copy center downtown I couldn’t help but think how great this year is going to be and how much I appreciate all of the things you are making to support my kids. I am so looking forward to the First Grade Math program and have been aligning it to our current “Go Math” curriculum. The monthly centers are being organized, the listening center pages from you and Kali are being Xeroxed, and I am currently making the example projects for my Guiding Readers! The new monthly poetry bundles were purchased along with the music so I can mix it up a little this year! The leveled readers from you and Deanna are printed and I even spiral bound the books!
My partner (Doug) used to constantly ask me if I ever stopped with school stuff and relaxed. HA! After coming in for career day this year he realizes why I love it so much. He actually kept coming back to visit because my kids loved seeing him in his police uniform!
Alright, I have to get back to answering questions for a biography. We are at the last stage of the adoption process and are so excited to be starting a family. He reminds me often that I won’t be able to spend money on TPT much anymore or buy things for my classroom! He’s right, and I don’t admit that often!
Keep in touch and I hope to update you sooner then this next time!
Sigh! My heart is full! Thank you! Tim! I wish you BOTH the best of luck as your start your family journey!