Bella Greenlee can tell you a thing or two about ants.
“I know that they carry their food; I see that a lot,” said the Stoney Creek Elementary first-grader. “I know that they live together, and that they care for their babies together. And some fun facts I know, like the queen lays all the eggs. And that ant nests are underground.”
Bella knows so much about the crawly insects she is both clearly fascinated by, and sometimes refers to as “gross,” because she’s seen ants in action in her yard at home. But it’s also because she’s read about them, in a book titled, unsurprisingly, “Ants.” That’s one book she is able to read, in part, because she and her mom are watching YouTube videos that help her hone her reading skills.
The four, 1- to 3-minute “Coach’s Quick Tips” that have aired since the series launched in January were created by and (so far) star Jennifer Merkel, an early literacy coach who works with Stoney Creek students one to two days a week.
The series was conceived by Merkel and three other Kent ISD early literacy coaches after Comstock Park Superintendent Ethan Ebenstein approached her about putting together instructional videos to help parents work on reading with their children.
Merkel’s son Jackson, a first-grader, also appears, as well as her daughter, Emma.
“I think that’s what people like about them, that it’s just me, taping them in my kitchen,” Merkel said. “I didn’t want them to be glossy. In one, my son is flopping around and yawning as I work with him, and that’s reality.”
Each video focuses on a specific area of literacy such as comprehension, decoding — or sounding out the words — and fluency.
So far, the videos are in English only, but Merkel hopes to make them available in Spanish as well. About 30 percent of the district’s students are Spanish-speaking, Principal Jason Rykse said.
Week 1 video – Parent Quick Tip: Comprehension- Activating Prior Knowledge
Week 2 video – Parent Quick Tip: Comprehension- Predicting
Week 3 video – Parent Quick Tip: Comprehension- Questioning
Week 4 video – Parent Quick Tip Comprehension- Summarizing