These are the activities that children will always remember. These experiences shape what kind of learners our children become.
Dr. Laura Kingsley, Executive Director of Elementary Schools
EdExploreSRQ Goes WILD for Literacy! – by Wendy Katz and Cindy Balistreri
The 2018-2019 school year in Sarasota County offered something new for Kindergarten and first-grade students: EdExploreSRQ goes WILD for Literacy! Over 1,780 students from twelve Title 1 schools participated in specially designed Explorations, and they each received a book connected to the Exploration for their home libraries.
This program is a partnership between EdExploreSRQ and the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. WILD for Literacy focuses on three key goals:
1) Increasing experiential learning experiences
2) Strengthening the EdExploreSRQ literacy components such as vocabulary and listening skills that are critically important for young learners in grades K-1
3) Encouraging parent engagement
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading led by Beth Duda and is a community effort in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties to help all children, especially those from low-income families, succeed by ensuring they read on grade level by the end of third grade. EdExploreSRQ is a web-based search platform that provides a menu of experiential learning opportunities for teachers, principals, and parents to select for students in grades K-12 to enhance learning. Each Exploration is reviewed and approved by school district staff to ensure compliance with educational standards.
The results are in, and the program was deemed a success by schools and providers of Explorations! For our schools, 11 out of 12 were able to participate. Twelve of EdExploreSRQ’s providers completed the necessary paperwork and alignment with literacy standards to offer WILD for Literacy Explorations. The most popular Explorations and accompanying books included:
- Around the Bend Nature Tours with “Crab Inquiry” and Wild Beach from Finney Company
- The Lemur Conservation Foundation with “Am I Like a Lemur?” and No-Song the Indri by Alison Jolly and published by the Lemur Conservation Foundation
- Mote Marine Laboratory with “Become a Scientist” and A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
- The Ringling with “Animal Safari” and A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens with “Fluttering Butterflies and Crawling Caterpillars” and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall with “Rosie Revere Engineer and Friends” and The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague
- A short message to parents with simple vocabulary words to emphasize when reading the book to their child, plus a link to a video of the book being read aloud provided in English and Spanish
- A compact memory journal with eight small pages asking the student to reflect and write about what they remembered in the Exploration
- A paid postcard to mail to the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading that guarantees a second book for each student’s home library
Community providers of these special Explorations were most enthusiastic about:
- The Go WILD for Literacy book component that put relevant books in the hands of students at the end of the Exploration
- That all students in a given grade level participated
- The close relationships they developed working with teachers
- Their ability to incorporate many literacy standards along with their usual content in science, math, social studies, and visual art within the lessons
Note: The Patterson Foundation generously covered the cost of the books.
Raina Hodges, a first-grade teacher at Gocio Elementary, summed up the sentiments of the participating teachers: “Just wanted to say thanks for such a fun, engaging adventure with lemurs! My students are still talking about how fun it was.”