Washington D.C.

Robert Hodder works with Experience Corps in Washington, D.C., to help K-3rd graders with their reading skills. Previous volunteer experiences include assisting the homeless and the hungry. He oversees Executive Communications for AARP.

“The Gasp” and the Growth of a Child

My elementary school kids desperately want to please their teacher.  So much so, they frequently let their emotions get the better of them.  Actually it’s daily.  And here’s how I know: Each and every day that I’m in the classroom I hear the “gasp”! A little background: Good teaching requires a high level of engagement between teacher and student.  And one of the best ways to build such rapport is through questioning.  Active questioning helps ensure-nothing completely ensures!-that the students …

Building a Story – The Roles of Authors and Illustrators

Every story has a beginning, middle and end.  And in the details of that telling, we can be transported to times and places that fill us with a range of emotions – from wonder, hope and, mirth - to fear, sadness and dread.  And the best stories usually have a blend of both! My Experience Corps kids are currently engaged in “author studies.”  What you and I – if you’re a Gen Xer, boomer or older – used to call storytime!  …

A Handy Trick for Learning to Read

“Aoccdrning to rscheearch…” We all bring different experiences and backgrounds to our reading.  Our comprehension skills, vocabulary and language fluency all factor into what we take away from the series of letters and spaces on the page in front of us.  But the foundations of how we decode those characters comes from our learned ability to translate “letters into sounds” and “sounds into words.” And so, most of us can “read” the subtitle of this blog as “According to research…” …

Celebrating 100 Days of School on the Wall

Today my class of Experience Corps students celebrated their 100th day of school!  When I got to school the teacher had placed “100th day of school” signs all over the walls.  To celebrate, the children made crowns with a “100″ featured prominently on the front, and decorated their headband with 100 hearts, numbers, triangles, dots, letters-whatever they were moved to create.  And even if they didn’t get 100 “somethings” down on the paper, when the adults stapled the bands to fit …

The Essential Agreement of the Classroom

  Maintaining discipline in a classroom of elementary school kids is seldom easy.  My teacher has a number of tactics that she uses.  When a couple of kids aren’t paying attention or picking at each other, she says, “I’ll wait.”  She then silently pauses her lesson, the room gets quiet, and the kids that aren’t focused realize all eyes are on them and they settle down. If things get worse and more kids “don’t have their eyes on the speaker …

Pumpkins and Punctuation Marks!

Great excitement colors every Halloween.  Kids happily don their costumes – some out of the box, some handmade – carve their jack o’lanterns, then set off to troll neighborhoods in the dusk and dark for candy galore. At my AARP Experience Corps school, the students woke up Halloween morning and put on their costumes for the school day.  Teachers and administrators dressed up as well and the entire school stepped outside for a street parade.  They marched about five blocks …