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December Newsletter
 by Dr. Cindy Cupp

The Best Christmas Newsletter Ever

ear Educators and Parents,

At this time of the year, I always think of the book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.   As many of you remember, the main characters in this book are the Herdman children.  I have had the “privilege” of teaching students that reminded me of the Herdmans.  I have also raised a child that makes the Herdman clan look like a bunch of angels.  This Newsletter will give you new ideas that will be fun to use during the months of December and January, just in case you have a few wannabe Herdmans in your class.  

My sister Ginger and I wish you a wonderful Holiday Season.
May you always have joy and happiness,

Cindy Cupp

Currently, President of Cupp Publishers, Inc.
Always, Teacher of Reading


 In this month’s Newsletter you will find:

1. Congressman Johnny Isakson’s Update from Washington

2. Hop’n Pop’s Party Invitation

3. Teaching Strategy Update from Cindy – Only 100% literacy is good enough!

       a. Meet Huggy – The True Story of Huggy’s Birth
       b. TeachingTips™

4. Research – Updates from more than 2,500 students

5. Ideas from around the state

Christy Kable  – Fayette
        b.  Juan Alvarado and Cody Allen - J.H. House Elementary, Rockdale
     Diary of new teachers using Dr. Cupp Readers® - Bartow County
d.   Kathy Holland, teacher Sara Harp Minter Elementary, Fayette County   
     Feature Student of the Month – Carter Anderson – Fayette County
      The Teacher      


1.  Johnny Isakson’s Washington Update


House Extends “Crayola  Credit”,  Increases Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

On November 20th, Congressman Johnny Isakson joined the U.S. House of Representatives in extending the popular teacher tax deduction that allows school teachers to take a tax deduction of up to $250 a year for classroom expenses they pay out of their own pockets.

Virtually every teacher in America pays money out of his or her own pocket for classroom materials.  These expenses are direct investments in the education of America's children, and teachers should be allowed to deduct these expenses.  President Bush and House Republicans are working to expand the tax credit to $400 per year.

Earlier this year, the House passed legislation to triple the maximum federal student loan forgiveness (from $5,000 to $17,500) for math, science, and special education teachers and reading specialists  who teach for five years in disadvantaged school districts.  Congressman Isakson voted in favor of this legislation.  These teaching fields are facing critical shortages and are in need of increased incentives to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers. 


2. Hop’n Pop’s Party Invitation

Our students need to practice their sight words over the holidays.  The invitation you see on this page may be downloaded if you would like to use this idea.  Classroom teachers using Dr. Cupp Readers® may copy this invitation by clicking this button and filling in the registration information.  This invitation may be used over any vacation period. 

On the inside of the invitation, you will find a calendar.  Students take the invitation home during the holidays.  When they say their sight words, an adult will draw a smiley face on the day and initial the date.  When the student returns to school with the invitation, they will be invited to a popcorn party if they have ten smiley faces.




3.  Teaching Strategy Update from Cindy


A.  Meet Huggy - A Prayer Instead of Duct Tape

If you are reading this web page for ideas for games and you don’t like stories, skip this section and move on to the next bold type.  If you like stories, this is the true story of how Huggy was born.  Huggy, an octopus, is our new character who loves children.  He wraps his many arms around them, and encourages them when they need a little extra help.


The True Story of Huggy’s Birth

First, you must understand my upbringing and the strong connection I have with duct tape.  My father was such a wonderful man many people considered him almost a saint.  He believed strongly in the old saying that if you can’t fix it with duct tape or WD 40 then it doesn’t need fix’n.  If it moved and it wasn’t supposed to, use duct tape.  If it was supposed to move and didn’t, use WD 40.  After watching the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding twice, I am sure he would have added Windex to his list of must haves in life.  If you want to read more about my dad, click this link Tribute to a Veteran.

A few weeks ago I was working with two special kindergarten students at an elementary school in Georgia. Of the students using Jack and Jilly, these little fellows were the only ones still struggling to begin learning to read.  If you have ever watched me work with kids, you know my love is teaching the little ones.  Well, when these little guys walked in, I knew immediately that they were not ADD, they were PPB.  PPB means Ping Pong Balls.  They did not walk.  They did not run.  They did not skip.  They bounced off the walls of the room.  I immediately thought of my father and his duct tape.  I know it is illegal to use duct tape to get kids to hold still, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know if duct tape would have helped them stop moving.

These little fellows were trying their best to work with me, but they just were not ready to hold still for anything related to learning to read.  I did my best.  The boys left, and I told the teacher she was earning her angel wings every day.

After the boys left and I was alone in the classroom, I had a little private conversation with God.  My part went sorta like this, “I know I am in this classroom working with these students because this is what you want me to do.  I know that this has been my mission in life for 34 years.  I need help.  I need help when I see little fellows like the ones I just worked with.”  As most of you know, sometimes a little conversation with God can lead to many solutions.

As I drove home, I started thinking of different ways to approach our learners who are most in need.  I have called these games “HUG” games.  The character that helps teach children these games is Huggy the Octopus. When you work with students who are constantly stepping on your toes, as well as your heart, say a little prayer before you begin.  HUG stands for Help Us God. 



B.  TeachingTips™

Huggy Strategies for Teaching Sound Blending



During the last month I have worked with more than 100 teachers.  These are my answers to the questions most frequently asked by these teachers concerning teaching students to sound-out words.  If you click this link and register, you have permission to copy this section. 





4.  Research – Updates from more than 2,500 students

     Cathy Puett Miller
Cupp Publishers, Inc. has contracted with Independent Literacy Consultant Cathy Puett Miller to provide interested schools with a free monthly Update.  This Update gives each participating school specific information about their students’ reading achievement during the previous twenty days


Seventeen schools with more than 2,500 students are participating in this research.  If you would like to view the current data, click this link. 

Research Results

The average student using Dr. Cupp Readers® in kindergarten knew 14 GKAP-R sight words in October 2003.  The average student in first grade knew 110 sight words in October 2003.




5.   Ideas from around the state


A.  Christy Kable, Sara Harp Minter Elementary School,  Fayette County

I was working with teachers at Sara Harp Minter Elementary School in Fayette County when Christy Kable shared this idea with me.  Instead of just saying the words on Hop’n Pop’s page, her students sing these words to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” The teachers in training tried this, and we had a great time.  We even sang sight words to “Row, row, row your boat!”


From Christy Kable

Here is my idea about singing the Hop'n Pop words to the tune of "Happy Birthday."  I use this tune because you can sing it a little slower if needed.  If the tune runs out on word #19 on Hop’n Pop’s page, then we start it over immediately.  In other words, we keep singing and singing and singing.  We may go through the words 6 or 7 times and the children don't even realize it.  They absolutely love doing this and it's a fun change-up from just saying the words over and over.  Plus all children succeed!  The pictures above show my children happily singing Hop'n Pop words.

Christy Kable, Sara Harp Minter Elementary, Fayette County

B. Juan Alvarado and Cody Allen, J.H. House Elementary School, Rockdale County




From Cindy – You can really tell when children identify with story characters.  Juan and Cody let their artwork speak for the attachment they have with Jack and Jilly.  Note on Cody’s drawing that he writes:  “Jack and Jilly are playn soker.” (Jack and Jilly are playing soccer.)  These drawings were sent to me by Amy Dineen, kindergarten teacher at J.H. House Elementary, Rockdale County. 

C.  New Teachers Using Dr. Cupp Readers®, Hamilton Crossing Elementary School, Bartow County








The names of the teachers from left to right -

Front row:  Penny Davis, Mia Gilstrap, Jill Parker, Misty James. 
Second row – Denise Cosby, Lynn Harper, Monica McQuire and Vanessa Woody. 

I was finishing up an inservice training session with the teachers shown in this picture when the BIG truck arrived to deliver their Jack and Jilly material.  (I might add that the entire truck load of material had been ordered only the week before…less than a 7-day  turn around!) The teachers were as excited as I was to see the material arrive.  I asked them to keep a diary of their first week with Jack and Jilly.  You’ll love this, especially  Tuesday’s entry.



Monday, November 17th

We are kindergarten teachers at Hamilton Crossing Elementary School in Bartow County. Today we started in the Dr. Cupp Readers® program. We knew we were well trained after our sessions with Dr. Cupp but we were anxious about starting and following the pacing. Our fears vanished as we introduced the AlphaMotion® CD. Our kindergarteners wanted to sing it over and over. “Letter name, letter name b – b; bouncing ball, bouncing ball; /b/ /b/.”

Tuesday, November 18th

After one day of singing the AlphaMotion® Song, a pregnant teacher wakes up in the middle of the night for the 100th time to go to the bathroom “nickel spinning, nickel spinning” playing in her head.  The enthusiasm even affects the teachers and flows to the classroom. The next day the kindergarten kids are asking, “When are we going to have a Jack and Jilly lesson and sing the AlphaMotion® song?”

Wednesday, November 19th

On the third day, three teachers introduced the pom-poms, only a few boys hesitated at first. The teachers explained these were cheering sticks, that’s all the explanation needed. Give me a “j” the classroom chanted and shook their cheering sticks in unison. Children raised their hands with excitement to ask for more Hop n’ Pop and cheer cards. “Sounds like back but the word is Jack.  Give me a J – A – C – K!”

Thursday, November 20th

Going on to the lessons 6 and 7 of the Readiness plans led to more cheers and motivated students that couldn’t wait to recite the letters and sounds. “I know what sound s makes, t makes and c makes the same sound as k.” These are just a few remarks made by kindergarteners. The students sit quietly as The Word House Book™  is read.  You can tell that the students are gaining essential skills and building their sight word vocabulary.  “Mr. Thomas E. Carpenter, the kind and caring custodian, prepares for the next day.”

Friday, November 21st

In our ESOL program, we have a kindergarten and first grade combo class participating in the program.  Hispanic children that cannot actively communicate, as of yet, are humming the sounds of the letters and using the hand movements to go with the correct letters.  You should see them moving to the beat of AlphaMotion!  We have not ever seen a program that teaches so much and sparks enthusiasm at the same time for the learners.  Exciting with results! “What a wonderful day at a wonderful school!”


D.  Kathy Holland, EIP teacher, Sara Harp Minter Elementary, Fayette County








Kathy Holland writes – “In all the 24 years I have taught regular ed., special ed., REP and EIP, I have never had students learn to read as quickly as I have using the Dr. Cupp Readers® My students love the success they have with this program.” 

Five of Ms. Holland’s students are shown reading ThinkerBox® Books in this section.


E.  Feature Student of the Month – Carter Anderson


Carter Anderson is shown with me in this picture.  Carter is a kindergarten student at Sara Harp Minter Elementary, Fayette County.  He is just finishing reading Reader Booklet 20 in Dr. Cupp Readers®.  Carter’s mother, Tonya Anderson, is a first grade teacher at Sara Minter. 

Tonya writes, “I am just so proud of Carter and how much he has accomplished. Wow!!!”





F.  The Teacher

I received The Teacher over the internet from a friend in Louisana.  She had received it from a friend.  We tried to track back and find the author, but did not have any luck.  In case you haven’t read this, you might like to take a moment.


The Teacher

After being interviewed by the school administration, the eager teaching
prospect said: "Let me see if I've got this right. You want me to go into that
room with all those kids, and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning.

And I'm supposed to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, modify their
disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse and even censor their
T-shirt messages and dress habits.

You want me to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship,
fair play, how to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook, and how to
apply for a job.  I am to check their heads for lice, maintain a safe environment,
recognize signs of antisocial behavior, offer advice, write letters of
recommendation for student employment and scholarships, encourage respect for
the cultural diversity of others, and oh, make sure that I give the girls in my class
fifty percent of my attention.

My contract requires me to work on my own time after school, evenings and
weekends grading papers.  Also, I must spend my summer vacation at my
own expense working toward advance certification and a Masters degree.

And on my own time you want me to attend committee and faculty meetings,
PTA meetings, and participate in staff development training.
I am to be a paragon of virtue, larger than life, such that my very presence
will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority.

And I am to pledge allegiance to family values and our  current administration. 
You want me to incorporate technology into the learning experience, monitor web sites,
and relate personally with each student.

That includes deciding who might be potentially dangerous and/or liable to commit
a crime in school. I am to make sure all students pass the mandatory state exams,
even those who don't come to school regularly or complete any of their assignments.

All of this I am to do with just a piece of chalk, a computer, a few books,
a bulletin board, and a big smile. You want me to do all of this and yet you expect me.  .  .
   .  .  .  .  NOT TO PRAY?


© 2003 Cupp Publishers, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

If you are a teacher using Dr. Cupp Readers® and you would like to have your suggestions or ideas posted in the Monthly Newsletter, please send them to Cindy Cupp at cindycupp@mindspring.com

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