I don't know about you, but some days I dread sending my students home at the end of the day because I know that the bus ride is not going to be a pleasant one (for a multitude of reasons). But what can we as teachers do to help the bus drivers do their miraculous job (a job that you couldn't pay me enough money to do!) Well, one Reading Council helped a school find a solution by trying something a little different.
Amity, Oregon is a small school located within the boundaries of the Vineyard Valley Reading Council. The Amity School District is a rural school with students that ride the bus from all over and some ride for over an hour each way! (Again, thank goodness for our bus drivers!) In order to make the bus ride a little more palatable, the teachers paired with Vineyard Valley Reading Council to create book bags that would be housed on the bus. They roped in one willing bus driver, who was willing to try new things. When that was agreed upon, off they went on this new adventure together.
With all participants willing to give it a try, the teachers got together with donated fabric and people with sewing skills to create some darling bags that housed 3 different grade ranges of books (K-2, 3-7, 8-12).
The making of the books bags in action. Who in your circle has some sewing skill that can help with this?
Jen Schulze- Vice President; Vineyard Valley Reading Council.
What a great use of vinyl to label each of the bags.
Once the bags were made and labeled, now came the fun part… deciding what books to put in!
Diana Sohn loading up the bus bags with books.
Once they were created, labeled and stuffed, it was then time to ship them off to the bus. The bus driver was in need of a system in which the students were able to access the books, so she had an older student volunteer to pass the books back and be in charge of making sure they were returned to the correct spot when the students got off the bus. She also needed a crate with a lid to keep the bags in so that when the bus went around corners the books wouldn't go flying.
They tried a couple of different crates, but the one with a lid worked the best for this rural bus driver.
A group of responsible 5th graders are in charge of checking the bags for any issues or needs. When that is communicated, the bags are refilled. What a great opportunity to fill it with books that the students have book talked the week before!
This system has grown in Amity to include all six of their busses. The district has yet to see a reduction in bus behavior referrals using this system because it was only one bus. The bus driver did report that the students were happier, less whining and bickering.There has been chatter amongst other teachers in neighboring districts to see if they can use this system with some of their bus drivers. Would this be a viable option at your school? What a wonderful opportunity to make friends with your bus drivers. Again, that is a job that you could not pay me enough to do. Try this with one willing bus driver to see if it works. After all, the journey to progress starts with one baby step (and a bus driver who is willing to try anything!). The books were $1 deal books purchased through Scholastic Dollar Books Website.
If you are interested in making these bags, contact Diana Sohn. She can send you in the right direction. Happy reading!