"Specials" (ie. P.E., music, art, library, etc.) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How often does your child have specials?  I'm disappointed with our current district's schedule for specials, and am just wondering if I'm expecting too much.

 

PE ~ 25 minutes 1x a week

music ~ 25 minutes 1x a week

art ~ none (no art teacher, parent volunteers teach a short lesson on a famous artist 1x a month)

library ~ 30 minutes 1x a week with parent volunteers (librarian funding cut 2 years ago)

computers ~ 25 minutes 1x a week

 

Aside from the lack of art and library instruction, I also find it strange that all specials occur on the same day.  For example, DS has specials on Tuesday so he has PE, music and computers all on the same day rather than spread throughout the week.


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#2 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 01:38 PM
 
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Wow, that is such a short-sighted view of education. Daily physical activity has been proven to increase scholastic achievement more than additional time spent on scholastics.

 

Our school allots 30 minutes a day to PE. Art is 3 x 35 min per week. Music is, I hate to say, capricious. There is little to no regular music activity beyond 2nd grade, as there are no music teachers on staff. From K-2 it's every day -- singing and folk dance especially, sometimes hand bells or what-have-you.

 

The library and the computer room are not scheduled as separate "blocks" as their use is integrated into the rest of the curriculum. For instance, a unit study might have the kids spend 5 or 6 hours one week in the library and computer lab doing research and organizing presentations, but then little the next week. Any kid who has finished reading a book might spend independent reading time in the library choosing a new one. So those aren't really "specials" at our school.

 

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#3 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 02:33 PM
 
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In fourth grade my DD has

 

Monday - library  40 minutes

Tuesday Art 40 minutes

Wednesday -Music 40 minutes

Thursday - Gym 40 minutes

Friday -Computers 40 minutes

 

 

I don't understand how parent volunteers can teach a library class.  I volunteer during my daughter's library special.  There are two parent volunteers checking the books in and out, shelving and cleaning books while the librarian is teaching her lessons, reading, administering tests etc.  I work in a field where I work with public libraries every day and I don't feel that I would be qualified to actually run the class.

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#4 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 02:45 PM
 
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DS is only in kindergarten so I'm not sure about the higher grades but his schedule:

 

MONDAY

10 minutes - MOVEMENT

40 minutes - PROJECT/ART

 

TUESDAY

50 minutes - MOVEMENT

30 minutes - PE

20 minutes- PROJECT/ART

 

WEDNESDAY

20 minutes - MOVEMENT

30 minutes - MUSIC

40 minutes - PROJECT/ART

 

THURSDAY

45minutes - Library/Writing workshop

15minutes - MOVEMENT

40 minutes - PROJECT/ART

 

FRIDAY

20 minutes - MOVEMENT

30minutes - PE

30 minutes - MUSIC

 

They have two 25minute recess each day and they also have a daily 50 minute sort of free time where they are free to choose whatever centers they'd like to work on. They also have a 15-minute down time each day.

 

But they also have an integrated curriculum where they choose a theme for a year and gear all instruction towards said theme. So I'm not sure if that is what makes it easier for them to allot a lot of time to these specials.

 

 

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#5 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 02:49 PM
 
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None of those things were considered "specials" in our area... they were just part of the curriculum. P.E. was at least 3 days a week and almost all the teachers at least did 15 or 20 minutes of walking/jogging on the non-PE days. Computers were in the classroom and used almost daily for one thing or another. Library was weekly. Art was tied into the curriculum. Most projects included a different sort of art project that was taught.

 

"Specials" were more like the dance program where every grade learned a special style taught by a professional in that field... 2nd graders learned mime, 3rd graders learned folk dancing, 4th graders learned modern dance, I know my youngest learned Flamenco in kindergarten lol. Music was another "special." In the early grades, it was more music and movement. In the older elementary grades they learned recorders, reading music, string/band instruments. These were once a week activities. Each grade did a class play every year and that might be once a week practice.


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#6 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 03:35 PM
 
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All 'specials' are 45 minutes

 

PE 2x every 6 days (mandated by the state or they'd cut it further)

Library 2x every 6 days for younger kids; Library 1x every 6 days and Technology 1x every 6 days for older kids

Music 1x every 6 days

Counselor 1x every 6 days

 

Art - parent led volunteer classes on a famous artist 1x every 3 months; teachers try to incorporate it into regular lessons. This year we got a grant for "Arts for Learning" which integrates Art into the curriculum. The older grades (3, 4, 5) get that included.

 

Last year we had money for an art teacher, so art was included in the rotation. This year that money is gone, and it's only going to get worse. I feel bad for the kids because the parent led lessons aren't nearly enough.

 

We had to fight REALLY hard to keep our librarians last year -- I agree, parents can't teach library. There's so many skills that the librarians (sorry, "media specialists") have that the parents don't. They're certified teachers with specialized training.

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#7 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 04:50 PM
 
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My second grader has specials every day for 30 minutes in the morning. She has PE Mon & Wed (addl 30 min recess every day), 45 min Art on Tues, Spanish on Mon, Wed, Thurs (30 min), 45 min Music on Fri. They use computers in the classroom and go to the library as needed, but not as a special. They do programs in the library on a regular basis, but it's not listed on the schedule and my 2nd grader couldn't tell me how often they go. I think it's part of their reading or writing blocks, or maybe if they need to do research in social studies. They also have "Learning Lab" every day.

 

 


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#8 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 04:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

There's so many skills that the librarians (sorry, "media specialists") have that the parents don't. They're certified teachers with specialized training.



As someone who never had anyone "teach library" to her in school, and whose kids' school doesn't have a librarian on staff, what are we missing? The regular classroom teachers (and, in the case of homeschoolers, parents) teach library skills here and the kids seem to do okay. What is involved in library teaching that is specialized where you live?

 

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#9 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 07:19 PM
 
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In our district schools have music, pe, and library twice a week for 30 minutes. My DD is in a charter school and has pe, art, music, and French twice a week for 40 minutes. They are working on grants for a library and computer room.
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#10 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 07:42 PM
 
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Quote:
What is involved in library teaching that is specialized where you live?

 

 

this is from near me - http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/44A85DA6-DA50-4EB0-9B41-EE981B43F149/15482/LibrarianResponsibilities.pdf

 

 

and no one would even look at you unless you held a masters 

 

all our school have librarians on staff, usually several

 

 


 

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#11 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 08:09 PM
 
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Where I live and teach it works like this...

 

The amount of prep time per teacher is determined through contract negotiations between the employer and the union. Currently, a full-time teacher gets 100 minutes of prep time per week. These 100 minutes become "specials" for the kids. Not every school has the same specials because it is dependant on what the teacher hired to cover preps can teach. Some schools may have library and music preps, others may have P.E., or drama, or art, or computers, etc. If a certain subject area isn't covered by preps, then the classroom teacher is responsible for it his/herself. A typical elementary school classroom might have the following (in 1 week):

 

Music: 40 minute prep

Library: 40 minute prep

Music: 20 minute prep

P.E.: 30 minutes with the classroom teacher

P.E.: 30 minutes with the classroom teacher

Computers: 40 minutes with the classroom teacher

Art: totally up to the classroom teacher to do as much as she wants to cover the curriculum

 

 

 

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#12 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 08:33 PM
 
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Mine are in elementary school and all their specials are 40 minutes. Music, Art, Library and Computer Lab are once a week while PE is three times a week.

 

Interesting conversation on the librarian issue - I'm a volunteer librarian at the school. Shelve and organize books, help kids find what they are looking for, evaluate books for reading levels. Nothing major and no library background or education.


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#13 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 10:14 PM
 
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But this is almost all about the administration of the collection, not the teaching of the students during "specials," which was what I was asking about. We have a small school (90 students) so obviously we don't have the numbers of a full-time librarian. We do have people doing the tasks on that list: a dedicated group of volunteers, a regional literacy co-ordinator, a teacher's aid who oversees acquisitions, scheduling and catalog entry, staff meetings where larger decisions are made collaboratively and so on. But when it comes to teaching the children, we have a bunch of regular classroom teachers who bring their students to the library often and assist them with learning to use the library effectively. 

 

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#14 of 90 Old 12-05-2011, 10:19 PM
 
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I don't actually know how long the classes are or how often the kids go to computers, but I guess it's once a week and it's about 30 minutes or maybe a little longer.  I volunteer in the library, and the classes don't seem to be there longer than half an hour.  This year the teachers can send the kids to library without having to accompany them, so the librarian would have to be there.  Parent volunteers can't be alone with the kids, but we do have volunteers who help in the library, and very often the parents lead the art class without help from the teachers.  

 

The art program is pretty advanced and they usually have art at least once a week, but it really depends on the parent volunteers as to whether or not it's planned by the parent or the teacher.  My daughter's teacher was an Art History major, so wants to do all her own art projects and parents can help.  But in some classes, the parent volunteers are professional artists and completely teach the class while the teacher works on lesson planning.  We actually have an art coordinator now, and she holds monthly workshops for the parents to learn various things like print making and pottery and the like.  The art program is pretty well funded, but all by fundraising.

 

PE also has parent volunteers, but not as many as the art program.  So what ends up happening with that is that the kids run laps twice a week, usually a mile but more if they can do it.  Sometimes they get to do more fun things.  We used some of the money we raised last year to hire a part time PE coordinator that would come in and get each class once a week for about half an hour, but she ended up quitting soon after.  So now we are going to hire another person, but it's going to be a process.  The kids do have recess 3 times a day and access to play equipment and balls and such, but coordinated stuff isn't as frequent.

 

Music is once a week, probably for about 45 minutes or so.  They don't have parent volunteers, but I've been trying to volunteer for that for two years, and the new teacher took me up on my offer this year, so next week I get to go in and talk about string instruments.  I've been thinking I want to get my substitute teachers license so that I could do something like library or music if the teacher or librarian is out sick.  I've also considered getting a job as a library aide.  I feel like they are trying to pare down and phase out the library, but I don't see how parents can completely run it.  I mean even if you have enough skills for holding a library time for the kids, there is so much work to be done with ordering, processing and cataloguing the books.  The librarian barely has time to process the new stuff with all the other duties (and the librarian has to do playground duty also), and I honestly feel like if I spend anymore time working at the library, I should just try and get a real job.

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#15 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 04:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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), and I honestly feel like if I spend anymore time working at the library, I should just try and get a real job.


I've actually looked into getting my Masters in Library Science with Elementary Ed certification for this very reason!  I love volunteering in the library and it would be awesome to actually get paid for the hours I put in there.  But, schools seem to be cutting librarians more than hiring them, so I don't know if the expense associated with the degree would be worth it.  My children's school has over 700 students and a lot of things that "should" be done by the librarian are just not on the volunteers' radars.  We have a regional library coordinator for the district (6 elementary schools and 2 junior high schools) and she has an assistant.  They do no instruction at all, just database management and acquisitions.

 

Art by the parents would be okay if it was something more than glorified coloring eyesroll.gif.  Our PE instructor is great, I just wish the kids got more than 25 minutes a week.  They do get recess daily though, which is good.

 

Thanks for all the input on this.  I guess I may be comparing their experience with my own in the 70s, and school funding has changed a lot since then (certainly not for the best, IMO).  And I am grateful that my kids don't have to endure the awful PE teacher I had through my elementary grades (dodgeball, swat, kickball, picking teams ~ I'm eternally scarred!!!)
 

 


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#16 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 04:56 AM
 
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At our school, K through 3rd grade has gym twice a week, art twice, music once, library once. Older kids have gym once a week, art twice, music twice, library once.  Classes are 40 minutes.

And no parent volunteers - real teachers.

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#17 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 06:13 AM
 
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My daughter attends a Charter school, and they have "specials" every day. She currently has Chinese and yoga on Tuesday and Thursday, PE and art Monday, Wednesday and Friday. After Christmas, she will switch from art to music, though both are incorporated into her daily routine regardless of whether she actually goes to a class. Part of the reason why my daughter is in a Charter school is because of the specials; she has a DAILY 30 minutes of physical activity in addition to a DAILY 30 minutes of recess, whereas most of the public schools only have PE once or twice a week and more and more, it seems to be the teachers' choice as to whether they go to recess or stay in and have extra academic time. And I am not trying to slam teachers; they have to cram so much teaching into so little time, it's no wonder they feel like they need every available second they can get for academics. And while there are plenty of parents that are okay with their kids spending all day, every day, stuck in the classroom, there are plenty more of us who know that kids who get ample time to run around and stretch their legs and burn off excess energy learn better and behave better when they go back to class. 


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#18 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 06:51 AM
 
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dd goes to a top of the line public school.

 

PE/library/computer - all 3 once a week 45 mins long - i think the library was a paid position till this year. however i am not sure if they were trained librarians but just parents they hired. i think now its run by teachers and volunteers. 

 

art i think once or twice a month - 1 1/2 hours long paid by PTA. its a serious art program with excellent classes. its not go paint what you want but actually do some work. this last class they did perspectives.

 

45 mins of garden every two weeks. 

 

no music (that i know of) there was from 1 to 3 which was teacher turning on a cd and children singing along with it. 

 

once a month field trip about average. however dd has already been for 4 fieldtrips (3 we had to contribute - one completely free) and they are not having a field trip this month. they have way too many activities. 

 

mind you - this whole thing makes me feel very very fortunate. esp. in CA. things are pretty bad here and i feel lucky dd has these opportunities. i volunteer  with field trips for a museum and if i school requests i go to them too. i see 'rich' schools come in all the time - never the low income schools and i go volunteer at low income schools. in every. low. income. middle. school i have gone to - "I" was their first "field trip". there are days when i am down and i open my folder of gratitude cards and posters and letters kids have written me - and i feel sooo fortunate. 

 

PE didnt even start in K. it started in grade 1. for K the coach gave pointers to the teachers and the teachers followed them.


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#19 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 09:03 AM
 
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Phys Ed/Gym - twice a week

Story time

Music class

Art class

Library

 

DS is in kindergarten.  These occur once per day and are on a rotating schedule.  I think each is 45 minutes.  They are also allowed to visit the library alone during indoor recesses and when they  finish their regular classroom assignments early.  The computers are in the classroom.


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#20 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 09:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Caneel View Post

Phys Ed/Gym - twice a week

Story time

Music class

Art class

Library

 

DS is in kindergarten.  These occur once per day and are on a rotating schedule.  I think each is 45 minutes.  They are also allowed to visit the library alone during indoor recesses and when they  finish their regular classroom assignments early.  The computers are in the classroom.


caneel - is your son in full day or half day K. our half day K didnt have time to fit in music, art, story time during a half day K everyday, but they always got choice time every single day and 2 recesses.
 

 


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#21 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 10:13 AM
 
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Full day.

 

Right now, the school has "real" teachers for art and music.  By this I mean they aren't regular teachers teaching art and music, their degrees are in the field and they teach art and music full-time.  I know we are lucky to have them.  Our district is facing a huge budget shortfall for next year and I fear these programs will be cut.  There is already talk of stepping back to half-day kindergarten, which won't effect DS but I am a believer in full-day kindergarten for my area.

 

 


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#22 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 11:24 AM
 
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 There is already talk of stepping back to half-day kindergarten, which won't effect DS but I am a believer in full-day kindergarten for my area.

Having gone through K through dd's eyes I too now believe in Full day K. before she started K i was all for half day k.

 

however dd was spoilt by a GREAT ps/dc program she was in. play based no direct academics, but lots of hands on science and art.

 

so K was a HUGE shock for her. i did not expect her reaction (though i should have known better).

 

result - K set the tone for her rest of her school experience. she tolerates school. she trudges through the academic part but holds on to all the fun activities and socialisation with her friends and teachers. so far she has enjoyed all her teachers thankfully. her dream teachers were her 2nd and 3rd grade teachers and she hangs out with them after school.

 

 


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#23 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 11:42 AM
 
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As someone who never had anyone "teach library" to her in school, and whose kids' school doesn't have a librarian on staff, what are we missing? The regular classroom teachers (and, in the case of homeschoolers, parents) teach library skills here and the kids seem to do okay. What is involved in library teaching that is specialized where you live?

 

Miranda

 

The library curriculum that is taught includes the sections of the library, the Dewey Decimal system,how to search the on-line catalog, the parts of a book (i.e. information found on a title page, in an  index, etc), types of literature, how to use reference books, and other things that either tie in with local authors or state/national award winning books.

 

In my state all public school teachers have to be certified and have their masters in education.  Even if they are teaching a specials class like PE or art.  The librarians need to have their MLS on top of that.  I don't think a public school here would allow parents to teach on a volunteer level in any way.  In my children's schools there are numerous volunteers each day but they help with things like making photo copies.  They might help in a classroom with a craft or during a party or a play or concert, but I can't imaging allowing a volunteer to "teach" anything.  Wouldn't that be a liability for the school?

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#24 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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I don't think a public school here would allow parents to teach on a volunteer level in any way.  In my children's schools there are numerous volunteers each day but they help with things like making photo copies.  They might help in a classroom with a craft or during a party or a play or concert, but I can't imaging allowing a volunteer to "teach" anything.  Wouldn't that be a liability for the school?


I think it's more likely to be a union issue than a liability issue, assuming the regular school staff are also present to cover the liability issue. Because we're in a small remote rural school district with precious few specialist teachers, it just makes good sense to use community expertise where possible. They've got around teachers union dissent by calling this "mentoring" rather than "teaching." Parents with particular areas of expertise teach things like orienteering skills, felting, Japanese or German culture, pottery, textile printing, organic gardening, indoor composting, folk dance, puppetry, poetry-writing, etc. etc.. They might come in once, or an hour a day for a week, or once a week for a couple of months, depending on what they're teaching. The lesson plans come from the parents, in consultation with the teachers, and the teachers are present as classroom hosts, to help with classroom management, to observe, facilitate, assist, document and so on. Legally the paid teachers are considered to be teaching the class, but the practical reality is rather different. This is stuff that is all integrated within the regular teaching day, rather than separated out as blocks of "Specials" as many of you seem to have. Only PE is typically blocked in, and that's because of the need to share the gymnasium, playing field and equipment with other classes.

 

Anyway, in our case, the regular classroom teachers do the sort of "in-the-library teaching" that has been described -- the Dewey decimal system, bibliographical skills, research skills, etc.. 


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#25 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 12:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LibraryMomma View Post

 

The library curriculum that is taught includes the sections of the library, the Dewey Decimal system,how to search the on-line catalog, the parts of a book (i.e. information found on a title page, in an  index, etc), types of literature, how to use reference books, and other things that either tie in with local authors or state/national award winning books.

 

In my state all public school teachers have to be certified and have their masters in education.  Even if they are teaching a specials class like PE or art.  The librarians need to have their MLS on top of that.  I don't think a public school here would allow parents to teach on a volunteer level in any way.  In my children's schools there are numerous volunteers each day but they help with things like making photo copies.  They might help in a classroom with a craft or during a party or a play or concert, but I can't imaging allowing a volunteer to "teach" anything.  Wouldn't that be a liability for the school?


Sections of the library, parts of books, Dewey Decimal system... those aren't difficult things to learn or to teach. I can hardly see requiring a masters to teach these things in an elementary school. I'm not trying to belittle the job of a librarian but in this economy, spending the money to employ a professional librarian for an average sized elementary where the library may only be a standard classroom size area isn't realistic. 

 

Our school district has part-time librarians in the elementary schools. They are educated but do not hold degrees in Library Science. They help the children find books appropriate to level and interests. They read books and short stories to the K-3rd graders each week and arrange book clubs for the 4th and 5th graders. They oversee the reading buddy program. It's really nice to have a paid staff member to do this but certainly, an organized volunteer base could do this if the alternative was no library or one that wasn't cared for.

 

Our district also uses volunteers to teach certain things regularly. They have an extensive volunteer reading tutor program which has been enormously successful. This allows kids who are a little behind but don't qualify for specialists to get some one-on-one attention. The average child in the program gains 3 reading levels within 6 weeks. I spent many years working with GATE kids because there wasn't a program when my DD started school. I designed my own programs including a reader's theatre pull-out for young fluent readers and a strategy game club for math minded kids. There were rules of course, background checks but it's been years and I still get those kids and parents coming up telling me that it made a real difference to them. Volunteers can do more than make copies (though I did a lot of that too lol.) There are always some people you wouldn't want to give that responsibility to but our district has benefited GREATLY from including the community. It's the only district in the county with a budget surplus, classes that still limit to 20 kids, no lay-offs, highest starting pay for teachers, theatre/dance/music/art programs, foreign languages, ect. Part of this is because the schools are present and involved in the community and so the community is invested in their success. There a many well-qualified volunteer available that hold degrees, are retired teachers, have specialty skills, ect. If you are in a school that can still afford to provide all these things without using volunteers GREAT! However, that is not the case for many schools and volunteers can fill in some of these gaps.

 


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#26 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 12:52 PM
 
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Sections of the library, parts of books, Dewey Decimal system... those aren't difficult things to learn or to teach. I can hardly see requiring a masters to teach these things in an elementary school. I'm not trying to belittle the job of a librarian but in this economy, spending the money to employ a professional librarian for an average sized elementary where the library may only be a standard classroom size area isn't realistic. 

 

Our school district has part-time librarians in the elementary schools. They are educated but do not hold degrees in Library Science. They help the children find books appropriate to level and interests. They read books and short stories to the K-3rd graders each week and arrange book clubs for the 4th and 5th graders. They oversee the reading buddy program. It's really nice to have a paid staff member to do this but certainly, an organized volunteer base could do this if the alternative was no library or one that wasn't cared for.

 

Our district also uses volunteers to teach certain things regularly. They have an extensive volunteer reading tutor program which has been enormously successful. This allows kids who are a little behind but don't qualify for specialists to get some one-on-one attention. The average child in the program gains 3 reading levels within 6 weeks. I spent many years working with GATE kids because there wasn't a program when my DD started school. I designed my own programs including a reader's theatre pull-out for young fluent readers and a strategy game club for math minded kids. There were rules of course, background checks but it's been years and I still get those kids and parents coming up telling me that it made a real difference to them. Volunteers can do more than make copies (though I did a lot of that too lol.) There are always some people you wouldn't want to give that responsibility to but our district has benefited GREATLY from including the community. It's the only district in the county with a budget surplus, classes that still limit to 20 kids, no lay-offs, highest starting pay for teachers, theatre/dance/music/art programs, foreign languages, ect. Part of this is because the schools are present and involved in the community and so the community is invested in their success. There a many well-qualified volunteer available that hold degrees, are retired teachers, have specialty skills, ect. If you are in a school that can still afford to provide all these things without using volunteers GREAT! However, that is not the case for many schools and volunteers can fill in some of these gaps.

 


The differences are interesting.  We have many similar programs to the ones you have mentioned here that are either volunteer led or include volunteer participation, but they are all outside of regular school hours.  Things like theatre productions, math club, even tutoring happens before or after school and are separate programs where it is understood that it is extra curricular.  I can see where some of this could be integrated during the school day but I have a hard time seeing non-professionals assisting children with their reading on behalf of the school. What if a problem arises, or signs of a disorder are overlooked because the person is not qualified?  

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#27 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our district also uses volunteers to teach certain things regularly. They have an extensive volunteer reading tutor program which has been enormously successful. This allows kids who are a little behind but don't qualify for specialists to get some one-on-one attention. The average child in the program gains 3 reading levels within 6 weeks. I spent many years working with GATE kids because there wasn't a program when my DD started school. I designed my own programs including a reader's theatre pull-out for young fluent readers and a strategy game club for math minded kids. There were rules of course, background checks but it's been years and I still get those kids and parents coming up telling me that it made a real difference to them. Volunteers can do more than make copies (though I did a lot of that too lol.) There are always some people you wouldn't want to give that responsibility to but our district has benefited GREATLY from including the community. It's the only district in the county with a budget surplus, classes that still limit to 20 kids, no lay-offs, highest starting pay for teachers, theatre/dance/music/art programs, foreign languages, ect. Part of this is because the schools are present and involved in the community and so the community is invested in their success. There a many well-qualified volunteer available that hold degrees, are retired teachers, have specialty skills, ect. If you are in a school that can still afford to provide all these things without using volunteers GREAT! However, that is not the case for many schools and volunteers can fill in some of these gaps.

 


How awesome that parent volunteers were able to work with the GATE kids.  Our school also has no funding for gifted/talented and does nothing for the students who would love the extra "something".  Now I'm wondering if it's something we could implement at our school....

 

Your district sounds great.  Unfortunately, our schools are huge, classrooms overcrowded (30+ in each of 4 5th grade classrooms), and the focus is primarily on standardized testing.  I don't even know where to begin honestly.
 

 


~~Kristina~~ Mama to DS(10/30/01), DD1(VBAC 3/28/04) and DD2(HBAC 5/21/06)
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#28 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 01:35 PM
 
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How awesome that parent volunteers were able to work with the GATE kids.  Our school also has no funding for gifted/talented and does nothing for the students who would love the extra "something".  Now I'm wondering if it's something we could implement at our school....

 

Your district sounds great.  Unfortunately, our schools are huge, classrooms overcrowded (30+ in each of 4 5th grade classrooms), and the focus is primarily on standardized testing.  I don't even know where to begin honestly.
 

 


You know, I just approached the principal with small ideas first. My eldest was a very advanced reader and I knew there were others who didn't need all the phonics work being done in 1st and 2nd grade.  I have a degree in theatre and a history working with kids and so reader's theatre just seemed the ticket. The strategy game club started by my volunteering to have a regular game club before school (just the 15 minutes kids could be on campus before class started.) Other things evolved from there. Often I ran reading groups within the classroom for the high groups so the teacher could focus on the lower groups. What are you good at? Maybe there is a way to work that into the classroom. With classes of 30 kids, I imagine teachers would jump at the chance to have someone helping. It never hurts to ask!

 


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#29 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 07:40 PM
 
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Sections of the library, parts of books, Dewey Decimal system... those aren't difficult things to learn or to teach. I can hardly see requiring a masters to teach these things in an elementary school. I'm not trying to belittle the job of a librarian but in this economy, spending the money to employ a professional librarian for an average sized elementary where the library may only be a standard classroom size area isn't realistic. 

 

 



I disagree.  Our library specialists do so much more at my dc's school.  In addition to the above mentioned curriculum, they teach typing from a young age, how to use information resources, and how to use technology. They nurture a love for reading and can direct kids to books that they fall in love with.  Currently, my son is participating in a competition, battle of the books, that is lead by one of the librarians.  It is not extra curricular, but the school will send teams to quiz/battle amongst multiple schools at a public library.  

 

I have an Art Ed background.  Classroom teachers and parents are a poor substitute for specials and usually will not fully meet the needs of students.  I have taught art for el. ed., and   although it is great to incorporate into the general ed classroom, I know it is limited in its range.  Many classroom teachers opt for coloring sheets because they are not confident in their own artistic ability.

 

Currently, my dc both dislike their art teacher, so it is not their favorite subject.  It is kind of a bummer, but I rather they have the opportunity than be at a school that is lacking art all together.  Interestingly, though, both say their favorite subject is PE.  I am not sure why- on report cards the teacher referred to ds as "she" and the teacher also disregarded dr. instructions when dd broke her wrist.  I would guess the physical outlet helps them focus better in their everyday classroom activities much like recess.  

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#30 of 90 Old 12-06-2011, 08:43 PM
 
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Classroom teachers and parents are a poor substitute for specials and usually will not fully meet the needs of students.


I've noticed a rather interesting trend over the past generation towards a belief that only specialists can teach children anything. No one would dare suggest that parents teach kids to swim anymore -- that needs a certified program of instruction. Baseball? Don't go out in the park and throw a ball around with your 4-year-old -- enrol him in T-ball so he gets proper coaching. Learning to type requires a specialist teacher with a Masters in Library and Information Science. Music needs to be taught by people who have reached professional performing standards on at least one instrument. 

 

In our school district we simply don't have this kind of luxury. There are only 90 kids schooled within a one-hour radius of our school. Enough to hire 8 teachers to cover every last subject area from K to 12. And you know, I think the kids get something really remarkable as a result of not having specialists teach them every last splinter skill or topic. They get to see how things like art, music, physical activity, computer and informational skills can be integrated into daily learning and real life by ordinary intelligent people who are enthusiastic about learning. In those people they see models for themselves -- enthusiastic generalists with broad ranges of skills, experiences and competencies.

 

The kids here run trails with the overweight Grade 2/3/4 teacher who has knee problems, but who loves being out in the outdoors and gets a huge kick out of increasing her own fitness level alongside the kids. They sit rapt when a retired professional dancer who has been studying shakuhachi flute performs a musical improvisation on a d harmonic minor scale for them, so that they are inspired to forge ahead with their teacher who has been lent some handbells out of which she and the kids and the flute player build their own harmonic minor scale, and they then spend a delightful few weeks of semi-regular musical exploration building confidence with their own improvisational efforts. They get turned on to books they love by their own classroom teachers who read aloud to them ... and by the TA who is crazy about children's literature and the plethora of great new books being published. They learn to cross-country ski thanks to the high school science and math teacher who has skied since he was four years old. Every kid in our school learns to knit because the K/1/2 teacher is good friends with a woman who loves to come in and teach them fibre crafts. Every kid goes on a wilderness canoe trip or two. In our school if a 6th grader says "I'd like to do a project on this type of historical dress, and I'd like to sew some garments of my own as part of it," the teacher says "My mom gave me a sewing machine which I don't know how to use. But I know who to call for help, and maybe if I bring it to school we can both learn with her help." And they do. Is it Art? Home Ec? History? It doesn't parcel itself out nicely as a "subject," and there's no sewing teacher with years of training. But this is the stuff of active, self-directed learning. This is all about "learning how to learn." This is how kids are going to end up with the confidence to teach themselves to adapt to the rapidly changing world they're going to live their adult lives in.

 

I know there are roles for specialists. I'm a private violin teacher and I don't think there's any way school music programs can give kids specialized training in strings that equals what I give my students. I know that my eldest outgrew the type of music education offered at even the most specialized high schools in the country two or three years before she was due to graduate. My ds is probably that one-in-a-thousand kid who would have thrived in a high school with teachers qualified to teach courses in computer programming and digital media production. Some kids eventually crave specialized training at high levels.

 

But I just wanted to sing the praises of can-do generalists, teachers who aren't intimidated out of trying to do a bit of everything, who are willing to learn alongside their students. I think they're great models for our kids. 

 

Miranda


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