Teacher's Desk: Proving Up

Talk big and you'd better prove up. After blogging recently about year-round school, I lamented to my principal that we help our students make major strides in literacy all year long, then summer comes and it all goes out the window. So my own summer then got a little more complicated, but why not? What happened was, she told me she still had library grant money, why don’t we identify students who could benefit the most and begin a summer reading program helping them earn credit for each book read. We decided to provide the books ourselves so that a variety of reading levels and interests could be matched. We ordered the books, but they weren’t in by the last day of school, so students were invited to come back to school on June 17th, join me for pizza, and select a book. I was surprised how many of the students were excited by this! When we meet, students will receive a reading log and instructions for a short book report.

Then, we’ll meet again on July 8th to either exchange books that the student began but didn’t finish or finished and is ready for another! We are hoping that their benchmark reading scores will be no lower than their ending score this past May.

Nor am I just going to hang out this summer, no sir. I’m also giving a former student cooking lessons, am visiting Taos and Kansas City, as well as, taking Mandarin Chinese lessons. Why? When I take a foreign language, I place myself in an uncomfortable, illiterate position: the same position many of my students find themselves. I use the best practices I learn from the instructor, and I hope I improve my empathy.

It will be a busy summer with the aforementioned activities and my effort at urban gardening which I’ve been doing for nearly forty years. I began my first urban vegetable garden in 1972, Queens, New York. My neighbors laughed when I planted kernels of corn in my tiny back yard. They weren’t laughing two and a half months later when I harvested the sweetest corn in New York City!

For this particular August, an educational harvest is also in prospect, benefiting both my students and their teacher.

Kathleen Kullback is a licensed special educator at Colorado High School Charter with an M.A. in educational leadership and is a former candidate to the State Board of Education.