Back to Normal
I have never liked the phrase "business as usual" because it denotes a sense of complacency, and I don’t ever want to have a feeling of doing things so that they are “good enough.” However, there is a time and place for everything(just to throw another cliché at you), and after four weeks of PSSA testing- one week of ELA, one week of Math, one week of Science, and over 90 make-up sections- it feels good to say we are back to business as usual.
Thanks to everyone for your flexibility and support over the last month. The UPS truck came to pick up the last of the tests today. Typically I prefer receiving packages from UPS, but I was just as happy shipping these packages off today. It truly took a collaborative effort to make the last month function as smoothly as it did.
Literacy Across the Curriculum
PSSA’s are over, but our school year is not. It would be easy to go into “shut-down” mode after high-stakes testing, but it just doesn’t happen here. Our kids are too important to us. There are great things going on around the building, and I am happy to be sharing those with you again.
Check out the first picture below from outside Mrs. DeLuca’s room. You see a perfect example of differentiation (one of MANY ways to differentiate). Students were writing about a science experiment they completed. Look how Gina provided the appropriate amount of support for writing the explanation. The student on the left was given the opportunity to respond independently while the student on the right required scaffolding and more of a cloze-form of a response. Both students were given equal access to the curriculum and opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. One just needed some extra support.
The next two pictures are from Room 18. In the middle picture you will see two well-written paragraphs with rich descriptions and content-specific vocabulary... from Katie’s MATH class. Look at the cross-curricular skills here. The student used evidence to describe the shape, transition words, appropriate punctuation, etc. all during a math lesson. It is great to see the application of skills.
The last picture was taken during Katie’s guided reading time. She has her essential question written on the whiteboard, and she continued to refer to it. This seems very simple, but it is crucial. Katie was working on many skills during her lesson, but having the essential question written kept the students focused on their task. It gave students a purpose as they actively read, and it provides Katie with opportunities to continue to reference her goal for the students. Telling them the objective for the lesson is a must, telling them and showing them is even better.
Literacy in Math
We all know that we can go to Andrew for his knowledge and skills in math. He has what we often hear as a “math brain,” but look at his lesson today. The students were completing a word problem that required no computation… but lots of math reasoning. Andrew showed the students how important it was to actively read when solving math problems. The students underlined, took notes, drew diagrams etc. That is exactly the type of reading strategy we teach students as they dissect text during their ELA block.
A Visit from Gracie
You may not have seen her, but Gracie opened up a restaurant called The Hamburger Hut in Room 6 this week. Students ordered milk shakes, hamburgers, and frog leg soup at the hamburger hut. Gracie was teaching them how to multiply with decimal points. Students had to read the menu, identify the prices and figure out how much it was going to cost them to order three ice cream sundaes, four order of fries, etc.
The students LOVED it. The pencils could not have been moving any faster. They were focused, on-task, working together, laughing, and… multiplying. This lesson could have been delivered very traditionally, but the students walked away learning how to multiply using decimals, eager for their homework to practice more ordering from The Hamburger Hut, and with a great memory of Gracie and her New York accent.