2017 Summer Grant
The Read to be Ready Summer Grant just completed its second year, and because of an investment from the Department of Human Services, the program saw a huge expansion. Review the resources below to learn more about the the learning that occurred in Tennessee over the summer.
In its second year of administration, the department collected data and compiled results from across all programs in the 2017 Read to be Ready Summer Grant Report. The report highlights that more than 180,000 books were sent home with students to stock their at-home libraries; approximately 8,000 students were given access to high-quality reading instruction during the summer months; and over 1,800 educators engaged in high-quality training to assist them as they provided instruction in the summer months. Read the full report here.
The 2017 Read to be Ready Exceptional Sites operated a summer literacy camp in 2016 and were awarded funds to continue their excellent work this summer. These sites were selected based on their 2016 application, site visit, and self-reporting document. Their data showed significant student growth and/or their innovative practices showed promise in helping students improve their reading and writing skills.
Metro Nashville Public Schools
Oneida Special School District
In 2017 these sites agreed to open their doors to allow others to visit and see how an exceptional site operates in hopes to share best practice so students are provided with the best possible instruction year-round. Additionally, these experienced program directors offered advice to their fellow educators about the summer grant process. Please view their thoughts below.
"Make questions as open-ended as possible. Open-ended questions allow kids to tap into their own knowledge and feelings, as well as develop critical thinking skills. Also, kids learn how to work together by respecting the ideas of others."
"Tying your book selection into your overall theme and selecting books that students can see themselves in is key to engaging students to want read and write. Additionally, look for ways to engage students in a way that touches on their prior knowledge and experience."
"Make sure that every activity is interesting and engaging to students so that they want to learn more. Once you get the students "hooked" on a topic, they will beg you to learn more about it and even lead the learning themselves."
"The program should start soon after school ends. Hosting the program during the month of June builds students' reading habits and interest, which they are likely to maintain throughout the summer until school begins. Additionally, our attendance dropped after July 4th because many families were planning vacations, moving, etc. We also had a few campers drop out at the “last minute,” so it is important to have a list of alternate campers ready."
"Pre-planning is crucial. Otherwise, you will experience many late nights and early mornings to get everything accomplished."
"Be strategic in planning your curriculum and choosing your staff because they are major factors to the program's success. When building your curriculum, include things that are interesting and fun to students. Stay away from worksheets and "typical" school experiences so that you do not lose your students' interest. When choosing your staff, be sure that you select educators who are able to build relationships with students. The students attending your program need the support of a caring staff member who will encourage them to dig deeper and try harder."
"Establish good relationships with families prior to the start of the program. Families need to understand that this camp isn’t like “regular” school. Also, make sure that students are taking home a fun book to read each night; I suggest that you do not send students home with any kind of writing assignment; this causes stress for children (and families)."
"Get to know your kids. Find out what their interests are and use this knowledge to help build your program and to make conversation with them. Make it a point to speak to each child every day."
"Use as many local resources as possible. If you look, you will find a plethora of resources available within your own communities."
"Be aware of your school board's fixed-charges policy when you are budgeting salaries, and hold on to notes and materials. Our instructors are finding that other teachers are eager to introduce Read to be Ready strategies in their classrooms during the regular school year!"
"Do not try to do everything; you need to delegate. Lean on other directors that have done it successfully for ideas and mold them to fit your particular area. Fun, authentic literacy experiences, and learning go together."
"Student reading is the cornerstone of the program. As directors, you must determine how to provide hands-on, real-world experience using books as the program’s core component."
"We had a meeting every Friday where the students could showcase what they learned during the week and served light snacks to encourage families to come. Families enjoyed seeing what their children learned and learned new strategies themselves. We also had time to sit and talk with the families which helped improve the school to home relationship."
"We saw the most engagement on "Free Book Fridays." Every Friday we invited families to come to school to select a book with their child. It was a great way to get families talking about reading, and parents always took the time to speak with instructors about what was going on at home and the differences they were observing in their child's reading and writing habits."
"The car rider line and pick up line were pivotal for communication. I made a point to be out there and to hand out newsletters directly to families. I took the time to get to know them, and I even gave out my cell phone number so that they could voice concerns or questions."
"We scheduled weekly parent training sessions and shared literacy tips related to interactive read aloud. Parents received copies of the books modeled in parent training to take home and read."
"The most successful way we engaged parents was "Watermelon Wednesday," where we invited parents to eat watermelon with their kids at the end of the day."
"Our program had an end of summer parent night. Students ate, went “book shopping,” and picked up all of the projects created throughout the summer. Students had their own sitting area, which contained the blank books they created, and they were able to share these with the families. Throughout the camp used the Remind app and student folders, which contained nightly reading, notes, and other reminders."
"Family attendance was highest and most keen at our weekly field trips to the local library."
"Our program hosted a parent breakfast where we assisted parents in creating literacy resources to be used in the home. We also had 100% parent attendance with our field trip to the Knoxville Zoo."
"Short answer: student ownership. Learning centered on engaging science units with hands-on activities that complemented our reading. This holistic approach to learning led to student ownership of our daily activities. Students wanted to be at the program; they wanted to learn."
"We had real-life experiences that coincided with every book that we read, which helped our students develop a knowledge base to connect with when discussing books. This had a major impact on comprehension, and the students were able to apply what they learned in these experiences."
"The high level of enthusiasm and creativity from the instructors, along with the program theme, were the biggest contributing factors to our success. This is not a program where teachers should expect to put a student at a desk. Students should be constantly engaged in ways that were meaningful to them! The small student to teacher ratio was critical to our instructors being able to develop a feeling of family and to spark interest in reading and writing."
"The relationships we built with kids and parents was the biggest contributing factor to our camp's success. Kids were met each morning by a staff member, which gave our staff members time to speak to parents and make kids feel comfortable and excited."
"I think the high quality book selection, high quality teachers, principal support, and attention to detail within the interactive read aloud and guided reading were critical. Choice matters. Children need choices in books and activities. Also, you need to carefully listen to what students need and make changes as needed. We were constantly reflecting upon what changes we needed to make."
"Our faculty was an integral part of the success of our program. They were highly motivated to engage the students and help them find their love of reading. The staff collaborated daily and worked as a team to always ensure that students would fully receive the benefits of a meaningful learning experience."
"Summer camp applicants should keep in mind that the primary purpose is to show children that reading can open up a whole new world and is fun! The way to teach students to read is to instill the desire to love reading!"
"The summer refreshed our “teaching hearts,” and we believe that this grant opportunity has been one of the best parts of our teaching careers. We focused on a love of reading and integrated activities that aligned with high-interest literature and non-fiction. We noticed that the students who participated in the reading camp came to school in August with much more confidence. They still reflect about the fun times that were had. We have students who ask if their brothers and sisters can come to the camp and if the students can participate as helpers. The camp experience is a memory that elicits pride from those who were able to participate. We highly recommend investing the time to have a Read to be Ready Camp at your school."
"Apply! All of my instructors have told me they found incredible value in the program. One instructor told me it brought her back to why she wanted to teach in the first place. More importantly, results are still being felt. We see a difference in attitudes in most of our students about reading and writing, and we still are still hearing from parents who talk about the change in their children, from reading habits to homework to even penmanship. The trickle-down effect has been terrific. Read to be Ready ideas, activities, and strategies are now being taught in regular classrooms across the county."
"This is an amazing opportunity to foster the love of reading in children. We have seen the children that were with us this summer blossom in the regular school year because of the confidence and skills they gained in our summer program."
"This grant opportunity is a fantastic way to introduce kids to all kinds of literature. The looks and smiles on their faces tells it all when they open a book and move through the pages. And they were so excited when they were able to choose books to take home."
"It's our privilege to provide authentic literacy learning experiences for every student. Plan carefully. Reflect carefully. Tailor the camp to the needs of your students and their communities. Demonstrate the joy of reading and you will have an impact on their lives as lifelong readers and writers."
"Connect with students that you may not be able to make a connection with during the regular school year. Focus on purchasing texts with topics of student interest. Provide multicultural immersion experiences by offering diverse cuisine and by planning culturally engaging field trips."
To see the 2017 Call for Proposals, 2017 Summer Grant Rubric, 2017 Project Budget Template, 2017 Crosswalk, 2017 Budget Resource Document, 2017 Online Application Preview, and/or the 2017 Budget Revision template, please view this document. PLEASE NOTE: These materials were valid for the 2017 Read to be Ready Summer Grant cycle ONLY. These materials will not be accepted for future grant periods. They are being provided for reference purposes ONLY.