Friday, December 18, 2009

Literacy Excel at Huntington Middle School

At Huntington, we are using the magnificent 7 strategies in a 20 minute period each morning (Literay Excel) in all core classes. The goal is to help stengthen students' reading, thinking, and comprehension skills. We want students to have a carry over into all of their core classes. In the first nine weeks the focus was on asking questions and making connections. During the second nine weeks we are now focusing on finding important information (summarizing) and inference skills. (Of course we are still making connections and asking questions also). When students took the quarterly tests in reading, there was an increase in the scores, and we believe that teaching the strategies had a lot to do with it. It is also important to note that when looking at the SMART data, there was a reduction in discipline referrals during the time period when we have Literacy Excel.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Different Strategies in the Classroom

In trying to develop different strategies to come up with for my lower academic achieving students to understand the content matter. The main problem was the various levels of levels and styles in the classroom. In one particular class, a mixture of different reading levels (pretty low) in addition to numerous accommodations involved with IEPs. Nevertheless, by incorporating several of the strategies learned in the SURN program. I've seen a dramatic difference with my special education students. I truly believe all kids have a base of understanding that can be reached if teachers uses different techniques in their methodology. Here are some of the strategies that have been affective for me this semester.
1) Reading with a Purpose: I used to give reading assignments with no clear-cut objectives. Now I've placed objectives ( what to find, read as a certain person, or summarizing)
2) GIST Statements - Each week, I have the students write a statement in 25 words or less explaining a certain position or job (president, chief justice, Senator). From this statement, I can evaluate mastering of the topic.
3) Picture Voc. - The students must produce voc. with their own definitions and a picture for each.
4) Read Aloud - Truthfully, I was against read alouds and now use them as an introduction to the unit to provide students with general background knowledge on the material. In addition to reading, I'll ask questions on important points I discussed during the reading.
5) Hands On Activities - The students have participated in several activities this year where they where the center of the activity. The responsibility aspect caused to deeply learn the content and not just memorize terms and concepts.

As I mentioned, there where many strategies that I picked up from the SURN conference and lecture. These were some of the many methods that I Incorporated in my lesson planning. Thanks for the opportunity to partake in this opportunity!

Take care!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Blazing the Trail

It has been exciting to see our literacy committee at work. Everyone is sharing ideas, volunteering their time and embracing change. The entire committee is committed to seeing the school culture change so that literacy strategies are used in all curriculum areas. We understand that how we go about making the change is critical. Our impact will be much greater if we can get the entire school to adopt the strategies and feel they will benefit from their implementation. It is important for us to recognize that many teachers are using literacy strategies in an informal way. Our goal is to be consistent throughout the building on how strategies are being taught and to select basic strategies to focus on across all curriculum areas.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


After the power tools conference this summer I was really excited about finding more quality literature to use in my math class. I was surprised to find so many books for math. The challenging part was finding books for advanced concepts. There are plenty of books for elementary math concepts. One book that I would recommend to any math 8 or even geometry teachers is "What's Your Angle, Pythagoras" by Julie Ellis. This book is engaging and informative. The illustrations are beautiful and the mathematics in the book is elegantly laid out. I am going to share the story with my students on Monday when we begin our lesson on the Pythagorean Theorem.
For those of us who attended the SURN mathematics workshop at KFMS, the book has a perfect tie in to a hands on activity Dr. Mason showed us using the knotted rope! The knotted rope has a role in the book. How cool is it going to be to read about using the knotted rope to make right triangles and then have the kids use the knotted rope in class to make 3, 4, 5 triangles? I am going to share the book on Monday with my class. I know they are going to love story time and the rope activity!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How do you use the childrens books?

Our literacy team shares a reading strategy with the entire staff each month. This is a great way to introduce and share the strategies taught to us through the content literacy academy. This allows for teachers to see the different ways you can use a strategy in any subject. One of the ideas that I shared with the staff was how to incorporate The Important Book (this book was given to all of us!) This idea can be used with any subject, I just so happen to teach Civics and U.S. History. This is a semester course so we are finished at the end of January. I use The Important Book at the end of each unit. The students follow the format given to us at the conference which basically follows the book. At the end of the semester we will spend time typing An Important Book about Civics!! For example, after learning about the legislative branch students will write an important poem all about the concepts they have learned regarding the legislative branch. I think this is a good way for the students to review those concepts at the end of the year as well as a good way to end a unit because the information is fresh and they know the material. This is one way I have used one of the books given to us, I would love to hear how you use any of the books in your classroom! Please feel free to share any ideas that would be helpful to all of us!!