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My first experience with the

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My first experience with the discipline of literacy began at a tender age. At such a point in my life I saw the world through stories which painted pictures in my head. Without a doubt, they were indeed fun but also were partially the foundation of a very limited vocabulary. Soon the pictures would come alive; as my speech pattern slowly developed sometime after enrolling in kindergarten. Though I was embarking on a new frontier of learning I found that it was immensely challenging to relate pictures to words. I went on to the elementary level as a struggling reader. Even though I was unable to read at my grade level I had developed a love for books and the desire to read. It wasn't until my mother's friend came for a family visit with us she found out that I was struggling with reading. She spent three months with my family and during those three months, she spent every evening teaching me to read. She bought me story books and she took the time and effort to guide me. Shortly after I became an independent reader.I would read magazines newspapers, books and other prints as I now had a deep love for reading. As a prospective teacher one of my goal is to get my students engage in daily reading and model the reading process for them, I believe that students will be interested in reading when their teachers show interest in reading.

Matthew McCann (not verified)

BookCrossing

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For several years now I have used BookCrossing in a similar way in my classroom. Not all students show an interest in bookcrossing and those that do, sometimes abandon the profile and bookshelf page. I can honestly say though, that BookCrossing is one element that has made my classroom an exciting place.

I am going to borrow from Bonnie Bracey Suttons practices and encourage kids to keep a library of books they want to read and books they have read. I think this is a fantastic way to foster reading in the classroom.

My administrators have discouraged letters to outsiders for fear of student safety. I understand that. In order to protect the security and safety of my students I now ask them to write letters and use only a first name. I then mail the letters from the school, using the school address. That way, the kids are still protected from outsiders.

Ironically they feel stifled by this. Many of my students have social networking accounts. Therefore this activity is usually preempted by an internet safety discussion. We even study an article about a teen who was endangered because his online activity was too revealing. It's a great lesson.

Thank you Bonnie for sharing your practices with us. It is very exciting.

Matthew McCann
Senn-Thomas Middle School
Herculaneum, Missouri

Jill (not verified)

Getting kids exciting about reading and writing.

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I think it is a goal of many teachers to find new and creative ways to get their students excited about reading a writing. I love how you were able to find a parent that was willing and able to help your students create their own classroom libraries. Parents like that don't come a long every year.

Bonnie Bracey Sutton (not verified)

Thanks Jackie. I have always

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Thanks Jackie. I have always loved reading too. I was pushed into technology by the possibilities and the connections and links.. but opening the doors of reading is such a wonderful thing to be able to do. I taught next to a teacher who always had the most difficult students and we decided to combine our efforts, she delivering the nuts and bolts of the daily grind in teaching and I got to do the magic. But how this happened is another story. I was given the gifted and talented and the ESOL students, based on the fact that they would be out of the classroom most of the day. Well, the students in ESOL had a talk with me. They promised their mothers that they could work in the classroom if only I would teach them. They did not want to go to ESOL. Deloris Davis, my teacher friend laughed and said...ok, we will teach them all. So we had gifted and talented, and ESOL and struggling readers. This time the magic was using Kidsnetwork, which I think is no longer a project, but was one of the beginning projects. We had students--girls and boys--who could navigate the technology, and those who could do the math, and the math came easy with the use of computers but most of all, the children wanted to read and write and communicate to students in diverse places all over the US. So we had personal reading, regular text book reading, and reading about project-based initiatives... and we read a lot. Many took the letters home to read to their parents who were immigrants, or not. The project brought us to many more types of reading and communication. The project was on water, the estuary we chose was the Chesapeake Bay, and stories about the Bay. So many books, so little time. And, we wrote , the kids did, their own grants to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation so we got, through their planning, fieldtrips, books, videos, and special excursions to the Smithsonian Research Center. But the reading..the reading was more than anyone could have asked kids to do. The National Geographic gave us atlases and books, and the ability to branch out to read about places on the map... and to read the stories, the personal stories of others in one's own time and place... extraordinary. We had the help of Dr. Valerie Chase at the Aquarium in Baltimore as well with hands on lessons. ( and we had an eat a crab lab.. fun!!!!!) Bonnie Bracey Sutton
Jackie (not verified)

Reading is something I also

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Reading is something I also love. At a conference I attended recently, someone told a story about a retired teacher who helped him learn to read. I am reaching an age at which retirement is coming closer. The idea of opening the doors of reading to children who are struggling is an appealing one. My entire life be poorer if I did not have the gift of reading.
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Bonnie Bracey Sutton Teacher Agent of Change, Power of US Foundation

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