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    volunteers
    By love2read

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    I love parent volunteers but you do need a system. I always send home a letter the first week of school naming the jobs I will need help with: Scholastic book sales, centers, room parent (parties, etc.), enrichment, reading, etc. At Back-to-School night (late Sept.) I have sign up sheets or they can email me their info. Sometimes I can find a mom who is willing to collate and coordinate this info for me, but I usually prefer to do it myself. I also explain my "rules" like confidentiality about kids work, letting me know if they can't make it, and of course not paying too much attention to their own child - "a professional attitude."
    I mostly use parents during center time. Usually I run 5 fifteen minute centers during our language arts block. This year I am going to be changing that but I think the things volunteers do is adaptable. I have an extra table at the back of the room where the volunteer can meet with approximately 5 kids at a time. She usually plays "games" with them. Sometimes the game is as simple as sight word bingo, but I have gotten a lot of games from Adrian Bruce's website (adrianbruce.com) and from this site http://www.fcrr.org/Curriculum/studentCenterActivities23.htm

    Another good task is to have her go over their word study words. Many parents can take that idea and run with it if you give them mini-white boards or paper and markers or letter tiles. Other times, I have the parent tie into something we are studying in social studies or science. During our study of matter, I always get one volunteer to make oobleck with the kids. Volunteers are great for doing science experiments. ;)
    Another good use for volunteers is to work with your lowest readers one-to-one. I usually use books I copy from Reading A-Z and let them do timed repeated readings. I also make copies of the Dolch Sight words (available on many websites) and let them have the kids practice reading those words to them. I make a tower for the kids to color each time they read a whole list successfully. After 3 successful readings, they can move to the next chart.
    Last year I had a couple of moms do enrichment groups. One took my 4 highest readers and worked with them on reports about the northwest Indian tribes. They presented their final products to the class. Another one led a group of my highest readers in an author study of William Steig books. Obviously, I did the planning for both projects ahead of time and provided them to the parent.
    Finally, I had 2 moms last year who really wanted to help with math. So, we did math centers. I set up 4 hands-on math explorations and the kids rotated when I rang a bell (every 10-15 minutes). We used dominoes, playing cards, dice, etc to play "games" that reinforced whatever skill we were working on. During the 2 centers when they weren't with either the volunteer or me, I assigned worksheets, file folder games, computer games, etc. A good site for these games is: mathwire.com The kids loved those days every week, and I was able to really observe who had it and who needed more work.
    Good luck with your volunteers. They can be a great resource.

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