History of The Big Red Book Mobile
This year Fort Loudoun Middle School is taking a different approach to Parent Involvement. During a brainstorming session this summer, Principal Christie Amburn, Art/RTI Teacher Jennifer Chastain, and ELL/RTI Teacher Heather Watson were tossing ideas around for Parent Involvement Activities. Mrs. Amburn had shared with her leadership team the TED Talk video “Why? Because we love you!” by Principal Todd Nesloney @TechNinjaTodd. In that video he talks about Parent Involvement and all the things he had tried in his school. He stated something profound that resonated with all the FLMS Leadership team. “I had a thought, Missionaries don’t wait for people to come to the church, they go out to the people.” Thus, the idea emerged of going out into the community to meet the parents and students who live there. They know that reading and math are two subjects their students struggle with so……ta da! The Big Red Bookmobile was hatched. Mrs. Amburn researched a group that is doing a book mobile in their community, in Chattanooga, using a bus. Not to be put off, they thought “What do we have on hand to make this happen?” They really wanted a bus, but they have a big red truck!
Now they needed to get books to fill the BRBM! Over the summer, and into the school year, FLMS has accepted donations of books from individual people, teachers, and churches. Some have been bought at garage sales, discount stores, McKay’s bucks have been used, and many other avenues have been used to gather books to give away to the students in their community. Even though they go out from the Middle School, this project is not limited to any age group. They even have had parents pick books for themselves that sparked memories of books they had read when they were younger.
Future plans for the Big Read Book Mobile, include monthly trips to local apartment complexes, parking lots of churches, and neighborhoods. Each trip will include a science lesson make/take for students, Tips for parents on how to help their child read better, and BOOKS, of course. They will spend about 45 min to an hour at each location. In conjunction with the state LAUNCH/LEAPS program, teachers are able to be paid for the time they spend planning, prepping and presenting the lessons to the students. LAUNCH/LEAPS also helps pay for the items needed for the STEM activities. These Parent Involvement activities help parents who are unable to travel to the school for various reasons, meet teachers and ask questions about how they can help their children at home. The hope is for the Big Red Book Mobile to continue into the summer, with weekly trips into the communities to help keep the students “tapped into” school.
The BRBM has already had two excursions this school year. The first was to a local even called “Riverfest”, located off the Tennessee River in Loudon, Tennessee. They brought 6 crates of books from Kindergarten level up to High School, the makings for slime, and lots of smiles to share with whomever traveled by the booth. Over 200 books were given away, 52 parents signed up to learn more about LAUNCH and enter a raffle, and over 300 bags of slime were created by children. It was a huge success. The next excursion was to a local apartment complex. The BRBM pulled into the parking lot and immediately 5 children ran up to see what was going on. They had received a notice that the BRBM was going to be in their neighborhood that afternoon. They pulled up to the table and got right into the act of making a sensory bottle using baby oil, water, food coloring and glitter. There were many discussions about the color, the oil and how the glitter reacted with everything! Four parents came out to see what was going on, and they talked to the teachers about their children and ways they could help them at home. Reading tips were handed out to the parents, so they could take them back home and try them with their own children. The next excursion is already planned with a cool science experiment called Rainbow Paper!
FLMS is very excited to engage more parents and children in the love of learning outside of school, with the Big Red Book Mobile. The field is wide open for experiments, parent activities and anything else that will encourage parents and students to find success. Their motto for this year is #Whateverittakes!
Check the FLMS calendar to find out where the Big Red Bookmobile will be next!
Click here to watch Todd Nesloney's Ted talk: https://youtu.be/mSdl3KIkT44