LBJ grants for math, reading spark engagement

Grants to continue reading development and incentives and a math program are sparking engagement at LBJ Elementary School.

Principal Zenovia Crier was awarded Education Foundation grants for $12,000 to continue AR/MYOn Reading and one for $3,780 for Formative Loop for math.

“The (reading) program allows our kids to read over 7,000 books on their level after they take a test … not only on their level, but their interests — what they like to read about,” Crier said.

“That’s getting them more into books, so we’re excited about that. … They’ve been testing like crazy trying to read books and go on to the next level. We give them pretty cool prizes, too,” she added.

Crier said the reading program helps with vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

Their short-cycle assessment scores are rising and they noticed good growth on MAP tests last year. Students take short-cycle assessments every six to nine weeks.

“We’re just knocking out of the park now, so we’re excited about that,” Crier said.

The math program, called Formative Loop, tests students and shows what they need help with and prints out a worksheet with a lesson and activity.

“They’re all in the classroom working on different skills that they need. The kids love it. It takes about five minutes a day and we do it every single day. …,” Crier said.

The Accelerated Reader program has been around for years and it’s on the district approved list. It has to be purchased out of the campus budget, but Crier wants to save money to do a lot of other things, so she went for a Foundation grant.

“… It’s just been wonderful because I was able to use that money for something else that we needed. It helped us out a lot; just sharing the wealth,” she added.

Both programs impact all 514 kindergarten through fifth grade students at LBJ. Crier noted that all students are involved in all the programs.

Crier said they also got a grant from Atmos Energy for a greenhouse and the Education Foundation awarded them a grant for all the materials to get it up and going.

They also got funding to go on a field trip to the planetarium at Museum of the Southwest as an incentive to do well on STAAR.

Fifth-grade Sofia Saucedo said she thinks MyOn is really good. They had been reading books on Hispanic Heritage Month.

“It teaches you about that certain person you want to learn about and you search a book” and the books are of great quality, Saucedo said.

You earn points and sometimes Crier gives a gift basket.

“So I feel like it’s great for you to learn on there because you can learn about different people that died for us or different people that have made an impact on our lives,” Saucedo added.

With AR, the more points you earn the more growth you show and the more incentives you can get like field trips, for example.

Saucedo said she also likes Formative Loop because you start on the level you need and you keep doing it for five minutes.

“… The timer goes off, you turn it in, and every single day when you work on those you just get better and better …,” she added.

As you move up, you get more advanced in math.

Having worked hard, Saucedo said she’s gotten to go on field trips and it’s rewarding.

“… It’s not all about earning something, but when you think you’re earning something you feel better about it. And when you do earn something, you do something hard and then you earn it at the end, you feel good. You’re like oh my gosh I’m so happy I did it because if you wouldn’t have done it, then you wouldn’t have gotten all the stuff you have,” Saucedo said.

Crier said they do not have discipline problems on campus because of the incentives that are in place.

She added that she would like parents to get on board with both AR/MYOn Reading and Formative Loop. The programs are available 24/7.

Lydia Ybarra, media specialist at LBJ, said the students love reading and checking out books.

“With MYOn, they’re able to take like an interest survey and it selects books that are geared around their interests. They love reading chapter books. Some of our favorite chapter books that they love to read are The Magic Treehouse and Junie B. Jones. They have really challenged themselves this year to go above and beyond with their reading. They’re really excited about the AR program. They’ve been setting their own goals, so that’s a really great thing about MyOn and AR is that they set their own goals and they challenge themselves to reach those goals,” Ybarra said.

“… That’s our ultimate goal is to instill that love of reading and kids,” she added.