Abia Judd Elementary third-grade language arts teacher Carol Jolley loves reading aloud to her students.
She counts her 15-minute read aloud time as one of the favorite parts of her day.
More importantly, Jolley said her children count it a favorite part of their day – and it’s pushing them to move from simple story books to more complicated plot stories found in chapter books.
Thanks to a mini-grant program through the Yavapai County Education Foundation, Jolley is one of three Prescott Unified School District teachers to win a $500 grant to enhance learning in their classrooms. The foundation received some 97 applications this past year from teachers across the county, and awarded 62 grants.
Yavapai County Superintendent Tim Carter said the foundation has forged an alliance with the Prescott Sunrise Lions Club and the hope is that education donations will increase so that all legitimate teacher grant requests can be funded in the coming year.
The three grant recipients talked about their awards at the Prescott Unified Governing Board meeting on Tuesday night.
Jolley’s grant enabled her to purchase a series of chapter books to share with two classrooms.
As a visual learner, Jolley said she appreciates the chance for children to see the words they hear. Student feedback suggests having their own books keeps their minds from wandering, enables them to see how words are spelled and helps them concentrate on the story as it unfolds.
“Kids need to be read to and that’s happening less and less,” Jolley said, emphasizing nothing beatss hearing 28 children turn the page as she is reading aloud with them.
For Prescott High School Social Studies Department Chairman Brenda Lee, the $500 grant enabled her to purchase furniture so as to create a mock courtroom for students taking her beginning and advanced law courses. The set-up has been a visual aid that helps students reenact real-life scenarios and prepare for the annual regional mock trial competitions.
Another Abia Judd Elementary third grade teacher, Jen Lucas, used her mini-grant to purchase a few sets of “Hot Dots,” an interactive independent-learning tool.
Students will be given a set of flash cards – there are ones for math, vocabulary, science and geography - and a voice-activated, oversized pen that allows them to immediately check their answers. The pen offers both congratulations and encouraging words when an answer is not yet correct,” such as “nice try.”
Touting the program’s mantra that “Hot Dots” turn “study time into play time,” Lucas said she hopes this is a means of reinforcing what students are learning in class, such as fractions and multiplication or science-related topics. The package she just received has 15 of the pens and she hopes to be able to share them between all four of the third-grade classrooms.
When delivery was made on Monday, Lucas said her students reacted with exuberance. She expects to begin using the cards and pens next week.