DEAR to Me:

Fostering biliteracy through middle school mentors

Brenda Burgherr, Monett Early Childhood Center

DEAR to Me:

Introduction

DEAR to Me stands for Drop Everything and Read to Me and that is exactly what happened at the Monett Early Childhood Center.

DEAR to Me is a special time for Middle School students to come and read in small groups.  Our kindergarten students got to hear books read to them in English, Spanish and Karen. My main goal was for students to know that we value their home languages. DEAR to Me allows positive peer role models to be established, opportunities for exposure to multiple languages and a celebration of cultures. 

Step-by-Step Plan

Approval of Administration

I planned a brief meeting with my principal to make sure I had her approval and support before I began any planning. I pitched the idea of DEAR to Me along with the details. When I knew I had my principal’s support I began making my phone calls and sending out emails.

Transportation

I placed a phone call to the bus barn and reserved three dates for the Middle School students to be picked up. If the weather was favorable, then the students would walk to the early childhood center. 

Reaching out to Administration

The middle school principal loved the idea that students were going to have the opportunity to be positive role models. I coordinated three dates with the administration of both schools and  found partners to collaborate with at the middle school.

Banners and Posters 

All advertising materials were made locally. I found an image to use on all banners, posters, and yard signs. I had removable stickers made for the dates, that way the banners, posters, and signs could all be reused in years to come. 

Language Lizard

I contacted Language Lizard https://www.languagelizard.com/ to place my book order. Language Lizard provides bilingual children’s books in over 50 languages. These books can be read in English and the students' home languages with the use of the PENpal.

Technology

I confirmed all dates with the Technology Department. I wanted to make sure all technology would work, and a tech person would be present. 

Celebration

The final round of DEAR to Me was a celebration of all languages. All kindergarten students gathered in the gym and middle school students read books aloud in English, Spanish, and Karen. In the gym, there is a big drop-down screen so the students can see the pictures. Before the books were read, the students had the opportunity to practice saying hello in English, Spanish, and Karen. I had these words spelled out on a large poster paper. Following the assembly, middle school and early childhood students had a time of celebration outside with bubbles. 

Timeline

January

  • Present project to the board and wait for approval.
  • Order books from Language Lizard.

February

  • Secure bus transportation for middle school students.
  • Confirm dates with all administration and middle school teachers. 
  • Order banners and posters.
  • Coordinate dates with tech dept.

March

  • Hang banners and posters.
  • Round #1—Middle school students walk over and read to kindergarteners in small groups in English, Spanish, and Karen.
  • Update banners and posters with the new date.
  • Confirm future dates with administration.

April

  • Round #2—Middle school students walk over and read to kindergarteners in small groups in English, Spanish, and Karen.
  • Update banners and posters with the new date.
  • Confirm future dates with administration.

May

  • Round #3— Kindergarteners and middle school students gather in the gym for an assembly.
  • Students practice saying hello in multiple languages.
  • Choose middle school students to read a book aloud in English, Spanish, or Karen during the assembly. Project illustrations on screen.
  • Celebrate with a bubble party outside.

Budget

The Biscuit Moon (Bilingual
Children's Book) - BurmeseEnglish
$15.50
Errol's Garden (Bilingual
Multicultural Book) -
Burmese-English
$15.50
The Biscuit Moon (Bilingual
Children's Book) - Karen
(Sgaw) -English
$15.50
Lima's Red Hot Chilli
(Bilingual Children's Book) -
Karen (Sgaw) -English
$15.50
3 Living In Harmony Books
Set (Bilingual Diverse
Children's Books) - Karen
(Sgaw) -English
$43.47
The Three Little Howlers
(Bilingual Multicultural Book)
- Karen (Sgaw) -English
$15.95
The Three Little Sun Bears
(Bilingual Multicultural Book)
- Karen (Sgaw) -English
$15.95
Lima's Red Hot Chilli
(Bilingual Children's Book) -
Hmong-English
$15.50
Yum! Let's Eat! (Bilingual
Diverse Children's Book) -
Hmong-English
$15.50
Amazing Sports from Around
the World - Hmong-English
$15.95
3 Living In Harmony Books
Set (Bilingual Diverse
Children's Books) - HmongEnglish
$43.47
The Three Little Howlers
(Bilingual Multicultural Book)
- Hmong-English
$15.95
The Three Little Sun Bears
(Bilingual Multicultural Book)
- Hmong-English
$15.95
10 Book PENPal Enhanced Set
(No Dictionary) -
Spanish/English
$279.97
Fox Fables (Bilingual Book) -
Spanish-English
$15.50
The Wild Washerwomen
(Bilingual Book) - SpanishEnglish
$15.50
Aliens Love Underpants
(Bilingual Children's Book) -
Spanish-English
$15.50
Keeping Up With Cheetah
(Bilingual Children's Book) -
Spanish-English
$15.50
3 Living In Harmony Books
Set (Bilingual Diverse
Children's Books) - Spanish-English
$43.47
3 Habitat Books Set (Bilingual
Children's Book) - Spanish-English
$45.97
3 Living In Harmony Books
Set (Bilingual Diverse
Children's Books) - BurmeseEnglish
$43.47
Keeping Up With Cheetah
(Bilingual Children's Book) -
Nepali-English
$15.50
Farmer Duck (Bilingual
Children's Book) - NepaliEnglish
$15.50
Mungo Makes New Friends
(Bilingual Children's Book) -
Nepali-English
$15.50
Let's Go to the Farm
(Bilingual Multicultural Book)
- Nepali-English
$12.99
Goldilocks and the Three
Bears (Bilingual Children's
Book) - Spanish-English
$15.50
Language Lizard - Shipping & Handling $69.95
Banners  $257.00
TOTAL: $1,136.51

What did it look like?

Sustainability

DEAR to Me is a worthwhile project that will continue into the future. First, when I researched the books, I went with a company that could provide bilingual books. With the use of the PENpal the teacher can read the book in English and the PENpal can read the book in the child’s home language. Kindergarteners can independently re-read the PENpal books after the middle school visits. Next, I wanted quality vinyl banners without a date so they could be reused. Last, I had conversations with the administration to plan our Dear to Me events for the following school year. We all agreed it was a successful project and students benefited from it.

What did it look like?

Reflections

Reflecting on my project, one of the main challenges was finding three dates that were mutually agreeable for both schools. In the future, holding DEAR to Me in the months of January, February, and March would be better than scheduling events at the end of school. I am very happy with the outcome of DEAR to Me. Kindergartners explored books in multiple languages and middle school students were able to serve as multilingual role models.

What did it look like?

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