May 25, 2016

26 Ways to Incorporate Alphabet Signs into Your Story Times (14-16)

Today's post continues with a series of enrichment activities to incorporate alphabet signs into story time:

Image Source, Wikimedia
14. Create a One-Sided Deck of Alphabet Playing Cards 

This activity is similar to Activity 7, but the resulting deck of cards is one-sided instead of two-sided. Get some blank index cards, paste, and scissors, and download and print the alphabet glossary sheet from the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes Series (available on page 3 of the Story Time Activity Packet -Younger Children available at this link).   Cut out the letter "A" and the corresponding handshape from the manual alphabet. Paste the letter "A" on the front of an index card, and the corresponding handshape for the letter "A" on the front of a second index card. Repeat this process with pairs of index cards for each letter of the alphabet until you have a full deck of alphabet playing cards. These cards provide a fun way to practice spelling and fingerspelling and can be used for a variety of games and activities such as the activities described in #15 and #16 below:

15. Alphabet Concentration

This game can be played alone or with a partner. Use the playing cards created in Activity #14 above. Shuffle the 52 cards and lay them all facedown in a pattern of columns and rows. A player begins by turning over two cards. If the cards shown are a matching pair (i.e. the letter “A” and the handshape for the letter “A”), the player gets to keep the cards. If the cards are not a matching pair, both cards should be turned back over, and it is the next player’s turn. Play continues until all cards are matched. 

To add challenge to this game, a player must say (or fingerspell or sign) a word that begins with the letter in order to keep the cards. 

16. Fishing for the Alphabet
Image Source: Fat Brain Toys
Shuffle the playing cards created in Activity #14 above and deal five cards to each player. Place the remaining cards facedown in a pile. The object of the game is to get the most matching pairs. Players take turns signing letters of the alphabet to see if another player has a matching card. For example, if player one has the letter “C” or the handshape for the letter “C” in his hand, he would make the sign for the the letter “C” and ask another player, “Do you have a C?” If the other player has the matching card (i.e. the letter “C” or the handshape for letter “C”) she must give it to the first player. If she does not have that card she says, “Go fish,” and the first player takes a card from the pile. Play continues until all the cards in the pile are gone.

NOTE: It’s fun to add the sign for “fish” to this game.

Helpful Resources:

ASL Alphabet Glossary (use this link to download the activity packet for younger children, and the alphabet glossary from my books is included in that packet)

The sign for Alphabet

A to Z Sign with Me

Abdo Publishing Group
Please contact Dawn using the form to the left if you'd like to receive reduced pricing on books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes series. This offer is available to workshop participants, consulting clients, and subscribers to this blog or Dawn's social media accounts.  

If you'd like to be on the mailing list for the next offering of my online class: Sing, Sign and Story Time for Professionals, please use the form at the left to send me your contact information. 

Please share your own ideas and experiences in the comment section below, and subscribe to my blog to receive more ideas over time.  Happy Signing!

May 5, 2016

Beaverton School District Boundary Adjustment Process Recent Q and A

The Beaverton School District recently posted a summary of boundary adjustment Q and A's on their website. Not surprisingly, I had some thoughts about what the School District had to say. I shared those thoughts in the following letter to our School Board: 

May 5, 2016 

Dear Members of the School Board,

Today I reviewed the updated boundary information on the School District's website.

I read with particular interest the following Question and Answer:

"Question: Why was Free & Reduced Lunch Program (FRLP) information used as a primary criteria when student body composition is a secondary criteria?"

"Answer: The FRLP information was not used as a primary criteria. All criteria was considered by the Boundary Advisory Committee during their deliberations."

Although this may (or may not) be factually true, from my observation as a community witness to the Boundary Adjustment Process via the BAC conversations that members of the public were allowed to hear, and via the artifacts from the BAC’s meetings (for example, each map iteration), there is a great deal of evidence to support the notation that FRLP information was a dominant decision-making factor for the BAC. 

This is another example of why it would be beneficial to conduct important School District business in a manner that is genuinely transparent, whether or not the matter is legally required to comply with Oregon’s Open Meetings Laws. If the BAC’s deliberations had been recorded and fully open to the public, Board members and other members of the public who did not attend the BAC meetings could listen to the meeting audio to determine for themselves the apparent weight of FRLP information on the boundary lines proposed by the BAC and forwarded to the Board by the Superintendent. 

Further, regarding the following Question and Answer:
"Question: Did the School Board recently look at the criteria in Board Policy JC?"

"Answer: Yes, the School Board did review Board Policy JC and the criteria and gave the Boundary Charge to the Superintendent last June 2015. Policy JC was last reviewed in the following years: March 1997, Nov. 2007, Feb. 2009, May 2015. The criteria are to be considered by the Boundary Committee in their deliberations. They are not ranked or weighted or intended to be evenly applied."

I would like to bring to the Board’s attention the fact that although Policy JC may not require the Boundary Adjustment Committee to rank or weight the criteria, Policy JC does in fact require the Superintendent to do so:

"In planning and developing an adjustment of attendance area boundaries, the superintendent first shall consider the following primary criteria: availability of space, proximity to school, safety, and neighborhood unity. Whenever possible, neighborhood areas, particularly at the elementary level, should be retained within a single attendance boundary. The superintendent also shall consider transportation costs, student body composition, staffing patterns, feeder school alignment, and the efficient and economical utilization of the buildings.” (Emphasis added)

Given that the Superintendent relied heavily on the Boundary Adjustment Committee’s work in designing a new boundary, it begs the question how his proposal gives emphasis to the primary criteria, when the District’s answer to the above question indicates that the BAC did not rank or weight the criteria.

Shifting my attention from criteria to objectives, I continue to contend that we have fallen short on the objective of minimizing transitions for students, particularly for the Class of 2020. Policy JC reads,  ". . . where and when possible, the superintendent may allow students to remain at their current school for one or more years to complete the highest grade level or levels offered.” Although the Superintendent has argued that the Class of 2020 must transition to their new boundary school during their sophomore year to allow the newly built school enough attendees to operate successfully, I ask that we look for innovative solutions that will allow those students who wish to remain in the same school for the duration of their high school career the opportunity to do so. This might involve surveying Class of 2020 students/families about their preferences in this regard, allowing some students to transition early, allowing some students to arrange for their own transportation, and even allowing some students who are not in the boundary for the shiny new school the opportunity to fill “open slots” in that school so that it can start with a capacity that is conducive to a full complement of academic offerings and extracurricular activities. A Future Ready School District should be able to problem solve in innovative ways. Please set this expectation for our School District administration. 

Finally, I would like to point out that the Board is in a unique position to ask interested questions about the boundary adjustment process and anticipate answers in return. Although the general public has been able to ask questions, we have not been readily supplied with answers. For this reason, I request that you carefully consider the questions that have been posed by your constituents, and do your very best due diligence to seek answers to those questions in advance of your vote to approve or temporarily deny the District’s move forward on the proposed boundary adjustments.

With sincere appreciation for your service to our community,
Dawn Prochovnic

Beaverton Parent, Voter, and Community Volunteer  

NOTE: The School Board is anticipated to vote on whether or not "(1) the set of objectives approved by the Board at the outset were met; and (2) the superintendent applied the relevant criteria" at the May 16, 2016 School Board Meeting

May 2, 2016

Library Advocacy Summary Post

This past weekend I visited Springfield, Oregon to give the keynote address for an Oregon Association of School Libraries (OASL) regional conference. I gave a spirited talked entitled, "Library Evangelism 101," in which I shared the learnings from the School Library Advocacy effort in the Beaverton School District. In my opening remarks, I warned folks that I would talk fast, share an abundance of information, and potentially overwhelm them in the process. I'm pretty sure I accomplished all three!

I tried to reassure folks that it would not be possible to incorporate all of the ideas I talked about, and encouraged participants to try to identify one or two or three things they could personally incorporate. It was exciting to hear people percolating with ideas. I look forward to hearing the action items that people commit to and follow through with. Case in point, just last week I heard about another school library advocacy effort in the Eugene area that got off the ground after I gave a similar talk at the OASL state meeting last fall. I genuinely believe that if we each plant and nurture a few seeds of library advocacy in our own areas, the results from our collective advocacy efforts will be bountiful.

I realized after wrapping up my talk that although I've written several posts about School Library Advocacy, I've not yet created a summary post for this topic. A summary listing is below:

Why I'm Passionate About School Libraries (Sept 28, 2014)

I Am  Library Evangelist and You Are the Choir (April 23, 2015)

Oregon Library Supporters of the Year (May 15, 2015)

School Library Advocacy: An Update (Oct 6, 2015) and

Summary of School Library Advocacy Effort in Beaverton, Oregon (Glog Summary) (October, 2015)

Librarians: Protecting our First Amendment Rights One Book at a Time (April, 2017)

Please get in touch if you'd like me to present "Library Evangelism 101" in your area. If you'd like to access the slides for "Library Evangelism 101," please send me an email, or message me via the contact form on the left side of the blog.

I'd love to hear about the school library advocacy efforts in your own area. I hope you will share what's going on in your area in the comment section below.