Grant helps Hart School teacher enhance reading materials

  James Hart School teacher Jennifer Wolf
  plans to update these reading materials
  using a $750 grant from the Illinois
  Retired Teachers Association.
(Photo by 
  Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
 
James Hart School teacher Jennifer Wolf is going to be redesigning her sixth grade classroom reading library using a grant from the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation.
 
The foundation made grants based on the idea that educators often do not have additional revenue sources available for unique student projects or classroom materials. 
 
Wolf teaches science and a 90-minute English/Language Arts section. She’s got shelves of books in her classroom but recognized that “over the years they’ve become a bit outdated, and I wanted to get more high-interest books in there for some kids that maybe are not the most motivated to read.”
 
With the $750 grant, Wolf will be able to restock her classroom library by setting up special shelves with nearly 80 mystery, adventure and non-fiction books that she knows will keep the attention of her students, especially the boys. She was alerted to the grant opportunity through an email last spring.
 
Wolf recognizes she’s teaching to different reading levels. Some students are below the sixth grade level, and others in the honors program are already reading at the seventh grade level.
 
When District 153 had Millennium School serving fifth and sixth graders, each student got 90-minutes of English/Language Arts. Wolf, whose been with the district for 12 years, said when Millennium closed and sixth grade became part of Hart School, it was decided the sixth graders would keep the daily 90-minute reading block.
 
Students also go to the library once a week as part of their social studies curriculum, and all James Hart School students have 15 minutes of silent reading each day. 
 
Wolf considers that a special time. She tells her students : “I’m not asking you to write anything for me or respond. I just want you to read because you can and for enjoyment.  We want kids to enjoy reading. It’s hard to get some kids to want to read, so we have to try ways to interest them.” 
 
She hopes the new reading materials will be among the most popular selections.

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