Pawsitive Feedback

If you look at the IRI scores for Northside, you’ll see that the first graders are at the very top of the testing scale! Not just once, but time after time.
Carolyn Whalen writes:
My sponsor is Panhandle Alliance for Education which has its own timeline for funding. However, they always fund by July 1st, so that I can pick up the check and order the puppies by early August. I hope to receive funding again next year, but I realize that there is no guarantee of that. This program is crucial to both me and my students. I cannot envision teaching first grade without it. Parents and community members have donated items for the puppies as an added incentive to achieve different goals. Students can earn name tags, chew toys, Santa hats, blankets, sleeping bags, slumber parties, and bandannas for their puppies. It has been VERY motivating to keep reading and earning the next prize for the puppies. I use this program in tandem with the Accelerated Reader program which requires students to read books and take comprehension quizzes on the computer. Each passed quiz counts for a puppy sticker in their puppy log. Last year, several students read 200+ books at home and or school! I believe they will be life-long readers/learners in part because of the motivation of their puppy-reading buddy.

Carolyn Whalen, Northside School, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864

"Puppy reading" is an absolute must in my classroom ... something that every student looks forward to doing each and every day (this must was initiated by the students and not the teacher). In fact, they most recently chose to take their puppies home to read with them as a classroom reward for good behavior! I have to say that this year has been the most successful year yet. I have had some students fill out 3 or 4 lucky dog bone books because they are driven to read with Lucky. Every student has the chance to earn a sleep over with their puppy after they have read 25 books. Some students have read over 600 books and are using chapter books to count towards their dog bones. Parents love the motivation that comes from Learning with Lucky. Test scores have increased because of the determination of wanting to read with Lucky. PLEASE bring it back next year!

Denise Martin, 1st Grade Teacher, Heyburn Elementary, St. Maries, Idaho

This has been the best year yet for the Lucky Program! It is a good program no matter what, but this year I organized the prizes on a chart and the kids come in and look at the chart and see how many more they need to get until the next prize and I hear them talking about how excited they are and say things like..."Next week we get scarves for our puppies if we have X amount of stickers!" They have to keep a reading log in their homework folder and they have a reading log at school. I only give 5 stickers per week if they read at home each night and read at school during SSR time. I do that because some students read chapter books and some read little books. With such a variation in reading, I decided to do it this way so it is fairer for all. When they come in without their homework folder that shows their reading log on Friday, I tell them that they can have 4 stickers for what they have read but they can't get the 5th one until they bring in their folder from home. It keeps the kids VERY accountable and they RARELY forget their folders this year. I am really loving the program and I see a lot more reading improvement by January than I did in years past without the program. If something interrupts the "reading with Lucky time," they are on me to have a make-up time immediately. (They also want writing time with Lucky and I have let them have it on occasion.) They have a strong bond with their puppies and it is so cute and rewarding!

Kristine Fitze, McDonald Elementary, Moscow, Idaho

Each day my first graders take home a book bag to read with someone at home. Before Learning with Lucky, I got back maybe 70% of the bags each day. Now, I get back at least 95% every day. Not only are my students reading more at school, they are reading more at home. Learning with Lucky is an amazing program.

Karrie Roberts, 1st Grade Teacher, Sagle Elementary, Sagle, Idaho

My kids and parents LOVE this reading incentive!! It is a very big deal to get puppy stickers. My students are very eager to get their puppies. I have my kids for 2 years because I teach a combo class. The kids are very happy when they get their puppies each year! We want to continue this program for years to come!
Thank you!

Jackie Durham, Canyon Elementary, Kellogg School District

My kids really like reading with Lucky, they ask about it every day. We are taking our puppies to our Walk to Read classes, reading with our 5th grade reading buddies . We are earning so many charms. Adopting them and getting their collars was a highlight in their day. My kids reading scores are going up because of the want to read and getting to have someone to read to. I feel that this program is so VERY,VERY important to all of these kids, high to low readers. Excitement on their faces is WOW!!!!!!
KEEP THE PROGRAM GOING!!!!!!!!

Kim Vanhorn, Kootenai Elementary School, First Grade, Sandpoint, Idaho

My first graders love their puppies. They are reading a lot more because they want to earn all the fun rewards for their puppy. My students are asked to read every night for 20 minutes which earns them a sticker in their reading log. They have been told that if they double their time it means two stickers. They are sometimes reading 40, 60 or 100 minutes!!
They love having their puppies with them when they read to themselves during our reading rotation. I am so grateful for this program because it truly motivates students to read!! I am so thankful for the many sponsors who make this program possible.

Leana Nitcy, Farmin Stidwell School, Sandpoint, Idaho

I have been teaching for three years, but I have been in the District for over 12 years. I saw "Learning with Lucky" program at Southside School before I started my own teaching career. When I started my teaching career I instantly called "Learning with Lucky" to see how to receive this fabulous program for my students. I was in luck. The ladies of the program were already working on providing the program to all first grades in our district. Yeah!
The children love the puppies and are so excited to read at home for their puppies. The parents responses is the same; what a great program my child wants to read at home. I am attaching a puppy paper with a note from a parent. Families are reading together!! The love of books is alive and well with the help of some soft, cuddly puppies.
I believe in this program and will continue to endorse "Learning with Lucky" every year. "Learning with Lucky" works and is a life changer for children to find the joy of reading.

Nancy Schmid, First Grade, Hope Elementary

It’s hard to put into words how important the “Reading with Lucky is for our students.” I will write down some quotes from my kids.

  1. "Mrs. Johnson, I didn’t like to read and now I love to read." (from a student who has struggled a bit) Reading with his puppy, daily, has really helped him gain confidence.
  2. "It has made me happy."
  3. "I want to read longer now."
  4. "I imagine the puppy is real when I read to him."

I hope this valuable program continues. Yes, this has helped test scores but more importantly to me, it has made my students want to practice their reading. My goal is to teach these wonderful kids to read so they become lifelong readers. If they read well, they can do anything! Practice really helps them all and they want to practice while holding their puppies. Thank you for all of your hard work to help our students become readers!!!!
Thank you for getting all of our sponsors. My students love the puppies and the collars, blankets, scarves, etc. that we use for incentives also.

Denise Johnson, McDonald Elementary, Moscow, Idaho

My students look forward to Reading with Lucky every day. They are so excited to earn the rewards as they go. I see them getting all snuggled in with their puppy and content to just read away! My students scores have soared! On the Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI), they went from 61% proficient in September to 83% now. They seem to be more involved in reading when they have "someone" to read with. I see little brothers and sisters who are excited to be in first grade so they can have a Lucky Puppy too. Please, please keep them coming!

Lynn Maciosek, Second Grade, Pinehurst Elementary, Pinehurst, ID

This is the 3rd year my first grade classroom has participated in the Learning with Lucky program and I look forward to it every year. Students often come to Back to School Night before the first day of school and ask when we are getting our puppies. I love that the puppies motivate students to reach individualized reading goals and provide just enough incentive to keep the students interested all year long. My first graders are able to build their stamina and read independently with their puppies for more than 20 minutes, and most can easily read for 30 minutes or more with them by their side! In the life of a first grader, that is a long time! Also, all of my students made reading growth from their fall to winter IRI scores and I can't wait to see how much more they grow when we test again in the spring. Teton Toyota has been a wonderful sponsor to work with and the kids love meeting Buddy and writing him letters throughout the year. We look forward to working with them each and every year!

Jennifer Barnes, Sunnyside Elementary School, Idaho Falls, Idaho

My class absolutely loves the Learning with Lucky Program. We are so lucky to be able to have it at our school. The program really excites my students and encourages them to read, read, read! My students receive a weekly decodable reader as part of our Reading curriculum. It’s great to see the students, especially the strugglers, practice their decodable and then read it to a parent volunteer.The other reason I really love Learning with Lucky is because it gets the parents involved in reading! I have 1-2 parent volunteers in my classroom every day for up to an hour! Parents also help out with the rewards the puppies receive.

Julie Johnson, Sunnyside Elementary, Idaho Falls, Idaho

Learning With Lucky®
in the news!

Shoshone News Press

"I asked my students today about their feelings about having the puppies and what they thought about it. Here are some of their responses:"

  • "They help us read more books."
  • "They listen and they sit there and kinda help us!"
  • "It makes reading "funner" and as you go along, you can get stuff for them."
  • "They help you learn how to read more better and show you how to take care of a real puppy (earning all the items)."
  • "They help you have fun at school and be smart."

"I know my class loves to read every day! After they read a book and practice with their puppy, they write their name on the board to show me that they are ready to read to someone. Daily, I have a long list of kids ready to read to me or a mom helper. I see my laziest of students diving into book after book. I also see my brightest student helping out others who need help! This is my 18th year of teaching. I have always tried to create a classroom where a love of books and reading is one of the top priorities. I really see my WHOLE class love reading books! Thanks for all you do!"

Ann Rotz, First Grade Teacher; Garwood Elementary, Rathdrum, Idaho

"I consider myself "lucky" because I have been able to watch the Learning with Lucky program grow into one of the highlights of being in 1st grade. Thanks to Horace Mann agent Camy Popiel and Jim Parker, owner of Parker Toyota, teacher Cathy Bayes' dream of using this as a reading incentive has taken off and taken flight. This reading incentive has proven to be a major influence in motivating our early readers to keep their noses in a book. I am an elementary school librarian and I can't describe the joy and accomplishment in the faces of these kiddos. They come to me hungry for another book, just so they can "earn" a collar, a tag or a blanket for their "reading buddy". Thank you for doing this. It is a wonderful program to promote reading and one I believe these kids remember for a very long time.

Jennifer La Vigne; Bryan Elementary Librarian

I have been doing the learning with Luck program for 3 years now and love it! It really gives an incentive for our kids to read more. I have seen an improvement in students willingness to read interdependently(with puppies). The one thing that I hear from students that I have had in the past is how they remember their puppies! This is the one memory that they usually remember and if it helps them to bring that positive connection to reading I would love to see the program continue for many years to come! Thank you for the chance to be a part of the program!

Stephanie Ivie, Sunnyside Elementary, Pinehurst, Idaho

I would love to have our dogs earlier in the year. My students really enjoy reading with their dogs. The kids I see who benefit the most from this program are ones who don't have anyone at home to read with. They enjoy reading to their dog and they become a very special friend to them. The sponsors need to know how much this program means to the kids and it is a testament to how important it is when they continue to bring their dogs back to school and read to them.

Lisa Margason, 1st grade teacher, Pinehurst Elementary School

First graders at Freeman Elementary are so lucky to have the Learning with Lucky Program. This program is a big motivation for all first graders. Each week students learn two stories at the table, and two more from the book shop. The stories that are learned and then put into the student’s individual book bags. Every day students are given opportunities to reread to self, to a friend, to their special puppy, and to the teacher. Students love the stickers and they love counting how many books they have read. Freeman first graders love this program and would love to have it back in 2015/2016. Thank you for this great program.

Chris Cochrane, Freeman First Grade Teacher

I just wanted to stress as a teacher what a huge motivator the puppies are for my students. I have children who are frustrated and wanting to give up on reading but when they are able to earn the rewards for their puppies it’s amazing how many of them find the love of reading thru the lucky program. During spring conferences, I have parents telling me how responsible and willing their children are at home to get their reading minutes completed and how excited they are to follow through with their nightly reading because of the Lucky program. I even suggest to my parents that they keep the Lucky program going thru the summer to prevent the summer slide in reading. Just to see the kids get their weekly rewards is amazing and heart-warming!!..Their eyes light up and they smile from ear to ear. At our school, we are even going to perform a music program in May with our puppies and incorporate the music aspect. Thanks so much for all your help!

Cherri Hanson, 1st Grade, Atlas Elementary

The Learning with Lucky reading incentive program has been such an integral part of motivating first graders to read. Pups are constant companions to first graders in my class during pup reading time. I offer rewards for students to earn for their pups, like collars, blankets, embroidered names, lunch with pup, photo of you and your pup, leashes, scarves, etc., for extra reading done at home. Parents have reported that this is really a blessing, as it gives students a tangible reason to read and to improve their reading skills. Watching my students read to their pups at school warms my heart and I see students fully engaged in becoming better readers!

Amy Wise

The "Learning with Lucky" Puppies are extremely important in my classroom. The making "read to self" or "read to puppy" much more exciting. They love to read their puppy all sorts of stories! I also use the puppies as an incentive to read at home each night. Each month there is a reading goal to reach and students who reach the goal get a special "prize" for their puppy. The rewards are: a collar, name tag, blanket, sleep-over, lunch date and others too! The students just love having them and it gets them excited about reading!

Erika Smatlan, 1st Grade Teacher, Prairie View Elementary

I have found that the puppies provide great motivation for my students to read. They love reading to their puppies and when they do so, they are engaged and really reading. They are willing to work hard in order to spend time with their beloved puppies! I love having them in the classroom.

Tricia Freeman, First Grade Teacher, Borah Elementary

My student's favorite time of the day is reading with their puppies! The puppies help them relax and focus as they enjoy a good book. They are a security blanket for some students (especially in the beginning of the year) and help them feel comfortable in first grade. Puppies are a big part of our classroom and I use them for positive behavior reinforcement and tie them into our at home reading goals.

Annalee Hixson, First Grade Teacher, Ponderosa Elementary School

"Learning to read is the most important challenge that young children face in school. Children must learn to read before they can read to learn. The Learning with Lucky Program provides a fun incentive at this crucial learning stage. Children have shown improvement n their reading skills as a result of the program because they learn to relax and enjoy reading."

Harry Amend, Retired Superintendent, Coeur d'Alene School District #271

"Learning with Lucky ignited a passion for reading among first graders at Silver Hills Elementary School. Students can't wait to care for their puppies and read to them every day. Watching the kids snuggle up with their puppies in a corner of the room to read a good book is the highlight of the day. It's a tail-wagging good time!"

Mary Ann Ranells, Ph.D.Principal
Silver Hills Elementary School
Wallace School District #393
Current Superintendent, Lakeland School District #272

The Learning with Lucky Program is WONDERFUL! The puppies are a great incentive to get kids to read and works in keeping their behavior in check, too. Before the puppies arrived, my kids would look mostly at the pictures in a book and say they read it. After getting the puppies and providing guidelines on how to read and share a book with their puppy, reading became rampant in my classroom. Not only can they earn stickers for reading at home, but for learning sight and high frequency words, reading poems and stories orally, getting a 100% on their spelling tests, reaching and maintaining their letter sound and reading fluency goals, and writing neatly and correct sentences about their puppies to name a few. They are now learning how to sniff out key vocabulary words and context clues when reading nonfiction with their puppies. The kids love me to call on their puppies to give an answer. Some puppies are becoming good mathematicians, too.
Even my previous first graders stop in to see the puppies and to tell me how their puppies are doing. Last summer, one of my first graders, now a third grader, had her puppy with her in the grocery store. They were getting stuff for their camping trip. She was telling me how she takes her puppy with her on overnight trips because her puppy would miss it’s bedtime story if she didn’t.
I am thinking about having a puppy reunion later on in the year with all the kids and their puppies who have been in my class. Every year, each one writes and publishes a book about their puppy. It would be very rewarding to see them all come together and share their puppies and stories.
The kids also love to have their puppies with them when they are playing games in the classroom. Some even take their puppy around the room at recess and teach them what they have learned.
The Learning with Lucky program has always been a great success! Our Winter Idaho Reading Indicator scores demonstrate the powerful effect the puppies have provided. Thank you, sponsors, for making a difference!

Kelley Barton, UpRiver 1st Grade

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