Educational attainment and literacy for youth are priorities among Lander Rotarians both locally and internationally. For 2022-23, members of the Lander Rotary Club service committee conducted a program review of a long-standing Dictionary Project where Lander Rotarian supplied dictionaries to third graders in five school districts in the county. The purpose of the review was to determine how we might add or increase value to the project. The following educators were contacted: teachers, reading specialists, a librarian and a principal.
Here is what the service committee members heard about student and teacher needs and how our project will change for 2022-23:
• New Resource: Third grade teachers told us that a combination dictionary/thesaurus would be more useful than just the dictionary and that students really like a thesaurus. This resource helps connect the teaching of reading and writing which leads to improved reading.
• New Personnel: Getting the school librarian involved may be key as librarians have students 1 hour/week and provide instruction on how to use resources. Classroom teachers are pressed for time to include all parts of the curriculum. If librarians can provide the instruction in how-to-use the Dictionary/Thesaurus resource, classroom teachers can move past that step to use of the Dictionary/Thesaurus in the curriculum.
• New Librarian/Teachers Instructional Unit: The conversations with educators identified a librarian who volunteered to develop a teaching unit on how to use the Dictionary/Thesaurus. Rotarians will reproduce this unit and share it with all school districts served. Librarians in other districts can use the teaching unit or adapt it to fit their needs. If a district's elementary school librarian is not able to be involved in the project, a classroom teacher will find that preparation time for teaching how to use the Dictionary/Thesaurus can be shortened.
We believe, based on teacher interviews, these changes have the potential to connect to writing skills, increase reading skills, support teacher use of the provided resource in the classroom and shorten preparation time for librarians or teachers in training students to use the resources.
The five school districts have a total of 241 students as the 2022-23 school year begins. We will order extra Dictionary/Thesaurus because classroom enrollments change throughout the school year. The dictionary/thesaurus is $5 each and the dictionaries are sold 24/box and the total project cost will be $1,320.
Dictionary/Thesaurus will be distributed to the following Fremont County School Districts: Gannet Peak (District #1) (includes Jeffery City), Ft. Washakie (District #21), Wyoming Indian (District #14), Crowheart/Wind River (District #6), Dubois (District #2), and Christian School Baptist Church (in Lander). Books will be ordered after the grant is approved and distributed in February-March 2023.
Rotarians will make contact with all elementary school principals, librarians, and third grade teachers to determine how they wish to implement the program. They will then order and deliver books. If school leaders permit, Rotarians will conduct a short learning exercise with the students. As well, Rotarians will go into the Lander elementary school once each week through the school year to read to elementary students.
Our target schools were identified by geographic distance, all within 68 miles of the club location. It is a highly diverse target audience and the identified resource (Dictionary/Thesaurus) seems to best fit the audience need, as identified by educators. Ongoing conversations with teachers will continue to identify needs.
All data from National Center for Education Statistics (NCES),
Wy Department of Education - except as noted
Range of data from Fremont County School Districts Served Through Project
Enrollment, # Students 1705 153
Student: Teacher Ratio 13:1 8:1
Minority Enrollment 100% 10%
Grad Rate >=90% 40-59%
Overall District Rank* 21/48 47/48
Math Proficiency 53% 9%
Reading Proficiency 60-64%% 14%
Revenue/Student $50,763 $19,345
Spending/Student $54,391 $18,220
Free/Reduced Lunch** 98% 24-25%
Median Income $61,622 $43,177
*combined math and reading, 21st out of 48 schools; 47th out of 48 schools
** Wy Dept Educ