Friday Focus

September 25, 2015

This week I want to use the Friday Focus to talk more about SSR in the advisory and make sure we all understand the importance and procedures for it. I have been working with the English department for a long time on how we can raise reading scores across the board in every category. As a social studies teacher, I was always frustrated at the government EOC, because the kids would have to read these huge passages and then answer a question or two about what it was talking about. It made me feel like no matter how much content I could squeeze into their brains in a year, it never would be enough to compensate for poor reading abilities of each student. That is when I realized that I should be using the same style of questions and working year round on how to read and analyze questions better.

I know our test scores are affected by reading ability in more than just the social studies EOC test and now we have added the ACT statewide as another high stakes test and it is timed. That means we have compounded the poor reading ability by making them get it done even faster than before. We have heard from several people who attend the ACT coaching clinics that students who read slow do not get to complete enough of the test to score well. They might know the answers, but they can’t read fast enough to get to the last ⅓ of the questions in each section. If I haven’t convinced you at this point that reading is a global thing for every student at Hallsville high school, please let me know what more I can do. I need everyone on board with this push to make our students perform better.

I tasked the English department to find something that would make us all better, and I thank them for proposing SSR in advisory and I thank the entire staff for welcoming it. We need this time built in so kids will work on reading skills. The expectation moving forward is that all advisories will read the entire advisory shift on Mondays. The students need to bring independent choice books or magazines with them, but please have a small selection available for those who come unprepared. This is NOT a time for homework or reading a textbook (I have heard that one this year). I also expect all of the advisory teachers to model this behavior and read something during this time. Do not catch up emails or grade papers. Relax and read for enjoyment or you can come get a book off of my bookshelf and read for professional development.

SSR is a proven way that we can help reading and test scores across the board. Please make this initiative important in your advisory and help Hallsville be even more successful in the future.