Reading skills are one of the most important things students learn in school, but they can’t learn these skills without the necessary tools. Karen Phelps, Title 1 teacher for kindergarten through third grade students at Arlington Woods Elementary School 99, is an IPS teacher who has made improved reading skills a priority for her students.
At Arlington Woods, there is a focus on interactive read-alouds, which allow students “to build vocabulary, stamina and comprehension skills.” They believe the best way to do this effectively is for every child to have a copy of the book to look at while words are read aloud. One of biggest obstacles for implementing this program is getting enough copies of every book for their students.
“Listening to the teacher read the story is one thing, but for each child to have a copy of the book in their hands [is] very powerful,” Phelps says.
Through working with DonorsChoose.org, she was able to get copies of several chapter books that have allowed over 150 students in 6 classrooms to participate in daily, interactive read-alouds. According to Phelps, this has strengthened word recognition, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.
“Students are enjoying the books so much they don’t even realize the learning going on!” she says
The IPS Education Foundation funds teachers’ projects via matching grants on DonorsChoose.org that make it possible to fill in the gap between classroom needs and available money. Through these programs, teachers are able to provide materials that their students need and that set their students up for success. Phelps has used DonorsChoose.org to complete several projects to improve her classroom and give her students the best educational experience possible.
“My experience with DonorsChoose.org has been nothing but positive,” she says. “They make the process so easy from beginning to end. There just isn’t room in my school’s budget to purchase items for individual classrooms.”
Because of contributions to DonorsChoose.org and matching grants from the IPSEF, Phelps’ students are able to take their reading skills outside the classroom, as well. Now, they have copies of books to take into their homes. With the work of committed teachers like Phelps and DonorsChoose.org contributions, IPS students are empowered with the tools they need to become their best.
“Many of our students encounter huge obstacles in their young lives that no child should ever have to experience,” she says. “But, with the support of an amazing staff, our students overcome the obstacles and find success in school.”