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Education Volunteer Guide

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Education Volunteer Guide

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									early grade literacy:
Our Case for Action
The Challenge                                                skills. The shortfall in reading proficiency is especially
                                                             pronounced among low-income, African-American and
Every year, nearly 1 million U.S. students fail to           Latino children.
graduate high school on time. That’s one in four
students. In communities with concentrated poverty,          We want to invite individuals, institutions and
the odds of graduating high school are even worse.           organizations across America to take action to improve
The United States used to lead the world in high             early grade literacy by enlisting volunteer readers
school graduation rates, but our ranking has fallen          both in and out of school. Together we can help stem
to 20 out of 28 industrialized nations, thereby              the problem of falling high school graduation rates
undermining our economic competitiveness.                    and make a meaningful and long-term difference in
                                                             the lives of these children.
High school dropouts are typically years in the
making. Academic difficulties in the early years too
often lead to disengagement from school and eventual         VolunTeer reading
dropout. Dropouts, in turn, are more likely to be            and TuToring programs
unemployed or underemployed and to end up on
welfare or in prison                                         Volunteer reading programs vary widely, and you, the
                                                             volunteer, can play a variety of roles in supporting
Students who aren’t strong readers by 4th grade are at       them. For the general purposes of this guide, there are
risk of educational failure and are more likely than their   two kinds of reading volunteers: readers and tutors.
peers to drop out of high school, and yet millions of
American children get to fourth grade without reading        Volunteer readers read a story to a group of children,
proficiently. Today, 1 in 3 fourth graders scores below      or may read to a single child. Being a volunteer
“Basic” in reading on the National Assessment of             reader is fairly simple; readers just need to know how
Education Progress—meaning that they do not have             to read, commit to visiting a classroom on a regular
even partial mastery of fundamental knowledge and            basis, and share the joy of reading a good story aloud
prolianCe energY shoWs iTs CommiTmenT To CommuniTY BY alloWing emploYees To TuTor during
normal WorK hours. iT’s VerY graTiFYing To deVelop relaTionships WiTh Your sTudenTs oVer
The Course oF The Year and To see Them maKe real progress as TheY BeneFiT noT JusT From The
reading, BuT also From The one-on-one aTTenTion and The noTion ThaT someone Cares.

iT’s niCe To KnoW ThaT We, as emploYees and as a CompanY, are maKing a diFFerenCe in our
CommuniTY. as You see The Kids maKe progress From WeeK To WeeK, You KnoW ThaT Their FuTure
is geTTing BrighTer. and our parTnership WiTh The sChool ConTinues To groW eaCh Year.

                                                                                                             Tom Morton
                                                                                                       Tutor for three years
                                                             manager of governmental and public affairs, proliance energy
                                              incoming president, Corporate Volunteer Council, united Way of Central indiana

to children who relish having a visitor make time for            are uniquely equipped to work with area schools,
them. As a volunteer, you may find it helpful to reference       libraries and out of school programs to develop a
the Tips for Reading With Children section. You can              program in one neighborhood, or in many.
easily spend 20-30 minutes on your lunch hour once a
month reading a book to a classroom near your work               As a volunteer, becoming involved in a tutoring
or home. Hopefully, you will enjoy the experience so             program is a good way to have impact, particularly
much that you seek to become more engaged in the                 among K-3rd grad children. For volunteers that
school and United Way’s other education efforts.                 are seeking an easy yet effective point of entry to
                                                                 supporting childhood literacy, reading programs
Volunteer tutors also go to classrooms and other                 are a good approach.
educational environments to help children learn
reading skills. Typically one tutor is paired with one
student, and there may be specified curriculum that              Where To Begin
the volunteer is asked to follow. Activities include
sounding out simple words, piecing together sentences,           You can search for reading programs on your own
comprehending paragraphs and more. Because of the                or find one with the help of your local United Way.
one-on-one relationship, large numbers of tutors and a           Regardless of what kind of reading program you might
fairly frequent time commitment might be necessary.              choose to get involved in, here are some steps to take
                                                                 and things to consider:
Readers and tutors play a valuable role in improving
literacy rates among young children. When children               Steps to take
see that someone cares enough to take time to share
the gift of reading, they begin to understand how                - Establish how much time you have available and if
important reading is, and that it is an enjoyable, good            you would rather read to children, be a tutor or be
thing to do. Many reading and tutoring programs                    a mentor – each activity will have a different time
include tips and training for parents, to help them                requirement.
understand the value of reading to and being read to
by their children.                                               - Think about the places where you can volunteer. It
                                                                   may be as simple as to talk to people in church who
With Volunteer Centers and other expertise in                      know one or more children that could benefit from
recruiting volunteers, and a history of early childhood            your generosity.
development and education programs, United Ways
- Check the requirements. Depending on your role            readers just have to know how to read, commit to
  (reader, tutor or mentor), you may have to be             reading to children on a regular basis and share the
  trained. In addition, because you are working with        joy of reading a story aloud to children.
  children, it is likely you will need a background
  check done.                                              - explore the possibilities. If you are ready for a
                                                             bigger challenge, you can become a tutor. Volunteer
Things to consider                                           tutors also go to classrooms and other educational
                                                             environments to help children learn reading skills.
- Know your community educational issues and                 Typically one tutor is paired with one student, and
  players. Whatever you decide to do, you should             there may be a specific curriculum that the volunteer
  understand your community challenges and                   is asked to follow. Because of the one-on-one
  barriers to educational success. You should also           relationship, a fairly frequent time commitment
  understand its assets to build on them. Read               may be necessary. Mentors have an even deeper
  the local newspapers, do a web search and/or               relationship, usually to a single child.
  participate in the local school board meetings.
  You will learn about the problems and the programs       - share the joy. As you read, tutor or mentor, you
  addressing them. You will also meet other people           may let others know about it. You may blog or use
  who know, care about and have the power to                 Twitter to share your experiences with friends and
  change education in your community.                        people with similar interests.

- set clear goals and expectations. Even in an             - recruit others. After hearing about your
  informal situation, it pays to set up clear goals and      experience, others may want to join you. Be sure
  expectations and to have the buy-in of all those           they share your understanding of the issues and
  involved. Periodically providing feedback and asking       your commitment to the children. Creating your
  for feedback will help you fine tune your volunteering     volunteering group and volunteering together
  experience and be successful in the long run.              multiplies your impact and can be a lot of fun.

- Test the waters before you jump in. If you are new
  to volunteering with small children, you may start as
  a volunteer reader. Being a reader is fairly simple;
Tips For reading WiTh Children                            - High quality writing is important. Don’t choose a
                                                            book just because it is based on popular media,
Successful read-alouds rely on active engagement in         such as television and videos. Look for books with
reading by both adults and children. To help create         characters, setting, plot and resolution that are both
an experience of engaged reading, volunteers should         rich and appropriate for the age of the children.
also take steps to:
                                                          - Don’t think that because a book won an award, it is
- Carefully select high-quality texts;                      a good book to read aloud. Some books win awards
                                                            for pictures, but the stories aren’t great for reading
- Be familiar with the book and ready to bring it to        aloud.
                                                          - Vary the book length and topics.
- Elicit predictions by children of what they think
  might happen or come next in the book; and              - Stories read in a group should be shorter. Pictures
                                                            should be easy to see from a short distance. Books
- Enable conversations that tie the book to life            that ask for children’s active participation are also
  beyond the classroom or the here and now.                 good selections for group stories.

Whether the volunteer is reading to a group of            - If you don’t like a book, don’t read it.
children or with just one child, the following tips
can help enhance the experience and contribute to         - Draw on recommended book lists, such as the one
improved reading skills among children. Additional          included in this guide. Other lists include the: As-
tips for reading one-on-one with a child appear at          sociation for Library Service to Children/American
the end of this section.                                    Library Association’s Notable Children’s booklist;
                                                            the National Education Association’s Educators’ Top
Choosing a Book                                             100 Children’s Books; the International Reading
                                                            Association’s Children’s Choices Booklist; and lists
- Know your audience—both the size and the                  recommended by Parents Magazine.
  demographic makeup. Some books are appropriate
  for a whole class; others are more suited for a         Be Prepared
  smaller group.
                                                          - Read the book ahead of time to avoid surprises and
- Look for books with illustrations that will hold          so you can think about questions to ask the children
  children’s attention and inspire them to read the         as you read.
  book again.
                                                          - Plan for places in the text where you can ask
- Choose books that reflect the diversity and interests     children to predict what will happen next, or to
  of the class.                                             discuss what is happening in their lives that might
                                                            be similar to the story.
- Select a variety of books from those that use humor,
  drama, or help children think about and deal with       - Think about how to engage restless children, e.g.,
  issues in their own lives.                                ask them to find letters they know in the book, read
                                                            along with you, or clap or snap their fingers when
- Books should provide opportunities for you to ask         they hear the “word of the day.”
  questions, and engage in conversation with the
  children. Occasionally use books that help develop      - Put sticky notes on the pages to remind you where
  specific literacy skills, such as alphabet or rhyming     you want to ask questions, explain an unfamiliar
  books, as well as books that present an opportunity       word or concept, or have the children join in.
  for learning new concepts or vocabulary.
- Follow the children’s lead—be open to focusing on       Reading Styles
  an aspect of the book you hadn’t considered.
                                                          - Each storyteller has a different style of reading. Find
- “What do you think will happen next?” is a good way       ways to read aloud that are comfortable for you.
  to get back to reading the story if the discussion
  strays off for too long.                                - Be expressive. Add sounds. Make the snake hiss
                                                            and the door creak.
Manage the Setting and the Children
                                                          - Read rhyming and counting books and recite the
- Where you sit and how are important. Be sure that         rhymes and numbers together.
  all children can see the book.
                                                          - Use expression appropriate to the book. There is no
- Minimize distractions so children can focus.              need to be overly dramatic.

- Ask the children to sit the same way with their         - If you feel comfortable doing so, create voices for
  hands in their lap, or on their own pillow.               the different characters.

- Young children sometimes get so absorbed in the         - Slow your pace to the children’s level, so they will
  story they stand and move to you. Gently ask them         have time to understand and appreciate the story
  to sit.                                                   and the pictures.

- Sometimes children start asking lots of questions       - Project your voice, but don’t shout. A low voice is
  or “sharing” while you are reading a story. If this       more likely to get their attention than a high or loud
  happens, respond simply and try to get the story          voice.
  flowing again. For example, a child sees a dog in the
  picture and shouts out, “I have a dog.” You can say,    - Hold the book carefully so all can see—out to the
  “Yes, you do. Let’s see what happens to this dog,”        side. Move from side to side slowly so everyone
  and move on.                                              gets a chance to see the pictures.
- Know the story—read it several times to yourself          - Text-to-self—Questions that relate the text to the
  so that you know what happens next and can look             child’s own experiences. When has this happened
  away from the book regularly to make eye contact            to you?
  with the children.
                                                            - Text-to-text—Questions that relate to another book
- Try to look at the children who cannot see the book         the class has read.
  (to help hold their attention), so you are always
  looking in the opposite direction that the book is        - Prediction—Ask what might happen next in the
  facing.                                                     story?

- If a passage is too long, shorten it or “read” the        - Authorship—Ask the children to imagine they are
  pictures.                                                   the author. What would you have Felix do next?

- Reading to young children can be like a television        - Vocabulary—Ask what children think a particular
  commercial—you have to get their attention to be            word means.
  successful. Depending on their age you want to
  keep the story short to fit their attention span. The     Involve the children as much as possible. Ask
  book can’t be too long but has to be interesting and      questions and encourage conversation about the
  exciting to hold their interest while building up their   book. This helps them connect the story with their
  imagination.                                              own lives and also helps them compare the current
                                                            story to others that they have heard. More tips for
- Don’t hesitate to conclude the story before you’ve        engaging children in reading include:
  finished reading it if the children aren’t enjoying it.
                                                            - You can get their attention at the start by asking
- There is not just one way to do things—be inventive.        them about the cover illustration.

- Have fun! If you are having fun, the children will        - Vary the questions, including open-ended
  catch the spirit as well.                                   questions, like “Why do you think the boy in the
                                                              story did that?” or use prompts, like “Tell me more
Engage the Children                                           about why the girl in the story is…”

Conversations that take place when reading with             - Talk about the stories and pictures as you read. Ask
children are critical. Such conversations should go           questions like, “What do you think comes next?” or
beyond the “who, what, when” to a deeper discussion           “What is happening here?”
and understanding of life beyond the words printed
on the page.                                                - Ask them what they think will happen before turning
                                                              to the last page. Tease them and pretend that you
Here are different types of questions to consider             won’t read the last page, saying “we are all done!”
during read-alouds, all of which will help improve a          This gets them laughing and involved.
child’s comprehension skills:
                                                            - Have children read out loud—even in a group setting.
- Factual—Details about the text. Where does this
  story take place? What kind of dog is this?               - Encourage them to count if the story involves
- Inferential—Help children understand the difference
  between factual and what is inferred. Why did the         - Find ways to include children in the stories —repeat-
  mommy put on mitts to take the cookies from the oven?       ing a phrase, making a motion or sound—some-
                                                              thing that ties to the stories. For example, when
- Opinion—Ask children what they think, but avoid             reading The Very Quiet Cricket the children can rub
  questions that result in yes or no answers.                 their hands together each time the cricket rubs his
  legs together. Rehearse your participation activity       - Be encouraging.
  with the children before starting the story.
                                                            - Provide gentle corrections.
- Mimicking is fun, and a good way to keep the
  children engaged. Say a phrase, and then ask all          - Give the child time to figure out tough words, but
  the children to say it again with you.                      give them help quickly if they ask for it. Don’t force
                                                              them to sound out a word, but let them do it if they
- If there is a word in the story that might be               want to.
  unfamiliar, try providing a short explanation,
  and then re-read the sentence.                            - If the child asks a question, stop and answer it. The
                                                              book may help the child express her thoughts and
- Insert a child’s name into the book.                        solve her own problems.

- Offer praise; reward performance with stickers.           - If the child substitutes one word for another while
                                                              reading, see if it makes sense. If it does, (e.g.,
- Draw out insights from the children.                        “dog” for “pup”) continue reading. If it doesn’t,
                                                              (e.g., “road” for “read”) ask the child to read the
- Extend the level of interest by discussing the book         sentence again because you are not sure you under-
  after you have finished reading, and voting on              stood it.
  where the book should be kept so the children can
  look at it later. Talk about things that happened in      - Recognize the child’s energy limits. Stop at or be-
  the book that you might like to do.                         fore signs of fatigue or frustration.

One-on-One Reading Tips                                     - Give lots of praise.

Reading with a child one-on-one is a good way to
associate reading with the special attention all children   sourCes
love. Asking children to read aloud and listening to
children read can greatly help boost their fluency,         - Helping Your Child Learn to Read
especially after a child has learned to read on his own.      American Academy of Pediatrics
- Let the child choose and hold the book. Sometimes
  kids want to hear a favorite book over and over again.    - RIF’s Guide to Reading Aloud to Your Children
                                                              Reading is Fundamental
- Try to find a quiet place.                        

- Let the child set the pace and have fun. The more         - The Power of Planning, Developing Effective
  fun children have while reading aloud, the more             Read-Alouds by Meagan K. Shedd and Nell K. Duke.
  they will love books and reading.                           Beyond the Journal, Young Children on the Web,
                                                              November 2008.
- Have the child turn the pages.
                                                            - The Read Aloud Handbook by J. Trelease
- Run your finger under the words as you read to
  show that the print carries the story.                    - Margaret Cain, Covenant Presbyterian Preschool,
                                                              Los Angeles, CA
- Stop to look at pictures; ask the child to name
  things he or she sees. Talk about how the pictures        - Ann Marie Van Camp, James Madison Elementary,
  relate to the story.                                        Lakewood, CA

- Sometimes read together or alternate reading—the
  child reads one page, you read the next.
reCommended BooKs                                        How Do Dinosaurs Eat their Food?
                                                         by Jane Yolen
There are many excellent books to read with children
ages K-3rd grade. A portion of the Association for       I Spy Fly Guy!
Library Service to Children/American Library             by Tedd Arnold
Association’s Notable Children’s booklist for younger
readers is listed below. Consult your local library      Little Mouse Gets Ready
for additional recommendations, and consider             by Jeff Smith
reviewing the National Education Association’s
Educators’ Top 100 Children’s Books; the International   Listen to the Wind: The Story of
Reading Association’s Children’s Choices Booklist;       Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea
and lists published by Parents Magazine.                 by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth

All the World                                            Mommy, Mama and Me
by Liz Garton Scanlon                                    by Lesléa Newman

Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!                        Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends
by Geoffrey Hayes                                        by Wong Herbert Yee

Big Wolf and Little Wolf                                 My Abuelita
by Nadine Brun-Cosme                                     by Tony Johnston

Birds                                                    Olivia Forms a Band
by Kevin Henkes                                          by Ian Falconer

A Book Mordicai Gerstein Book Fiesta!:                   Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day
Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day;                       by Kate McMullan
Celebremos El día de los niños/ El día de los libros
by Pat Mora                                              Posy
                                                         by Linda Newbery
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
by Eric Carle                                            Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
                                                         by Joyce Sidman
The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown                                           Sweet Potato Pie
                                                         by Kathleen D. Lindsey
Gracias * Thanks
by Pat Mora                                              Thunder-Boomer!
                                                         by Shutta Crum
Growing Vegetable Soup
by Lois Ehlert                                           Waiting for Winter
                                                         by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Higher! Higher!
by Leslie Patricelli                                     Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales
                                                         by Lucy Cousins
How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?
by Jane Yolen
addiTional lisTings                                    Intergenerational tutoring
For reCommended BooKs                        
Family Education’s Recommended
Reading Lists for All Ages                             International Reading Association’s     Children’s Choices Booklist

National Education Association’s Teacher’s Top 100     National Education Association
Books for Children                                     National Association for the Education of                    Young Children articles:

Oprah Winfrey’s Kids’ Reading List                     Using Read-Alouds with Critical Literacy        Literature in K-3 Classrooms
html                                          /200911/primary-
PBS Organization’s Recommended Books & Links                The Power of Planning:
                                                       Developing Effective Read-Alouds
Teachers First 100 Best Books                 /200811/              BTJreadingaloud.pdf

                                                       The Essentials of Early Literacy Instruction
addiTional resourCes                          roskos.pdf

American Academy of Pediatrics                         Online Help for Parents Who Volunteer                      
Association for Library Service to Children/American
Library Association’s Notable Children’s booklist      The Read-Aloud Handbook                                            by Jim Trelease and website
Center for the Study of Reading             Reading is Fundamental
EVERYBODY WINS! A national literacy and      
mentoring nonprofit we-

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united Way Worldwide
701 N Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-2045

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