Monday, May 23, 2016

Literacy Update from Phoebe Slater

AIMSweb Benchmarking:  

AIMSweb spring benchmarking is here!  Next week, the RCBM screen will be administered in Lit. Ladders, and the MAZE will be administered in Humanities.  Logistics and materials have been shared with participating teachers.  Please have data entered by Wednesday, May 11th, so that we can prepare for any make-ups that need to happen.  

Lit. Ladders:

We have had a very successful and exciting year in lit. ladders!  Student engagement is evident across all grade levels and classes.  Students have enjoyed and been challenged with great discussions, book studies, lit. circles, debates and writing prompts.  Here are a few highlights:

Reader's Theater: Many groups, all grade levels & all reading levels have enjoyed reader's theater throughout the year.  Several groups, including Jen MacDonald's Expansion class and my 6th grade Fluency class, have put on wonderful performances for their classmates!  Reader's Theater is a great way to channel all that middle school drama!  (while working on fluency, comprehension, expression, self-confidence, etc.)  Theater can be an engaging way for students to engage with content across all disciplines...💃 

Core Connections:  Lit. ladder teachers try to make connections to what students are learning about in their core classes.  Recently, students in Michael Potvin's 8th grade Vocabulary class read Maus--a graphic novel by Art Spiegelman to enhance their study of the Holocaust in Humanities.  5th graders in Liddy Bourne's Fluency class read The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare to support their studies of colonization and the relationship between settlers and the natives.

Exploring Theme:  7th graders in Jordy Griffin's Comprehension class have been reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.  They are exploring the question: has racism changed in America over time? They have created a timeline of significant historical and current events that help them analyze this complex question.  5th graders in Alex Bacheller's Comprehension class enjoyed lit. circles that explored the theme of family through three different books: Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy and The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm.  Students demonstrated comprehension through creative projects, including creating comic strips and newspapers.

Book Buddies:  6th graders have partnered up with Anne Demars' 1st graders.  They have visited several times: sometimes to read to the younger kids, other times to listen to and support the 1st graders as they read.  It is amazing to see how our middle schoolers transform when they take on this mentor role.  And the younger students love having the big kids come visit!  Think about ways that you could incorporate some sort of mentoring partnerships (both with younger and older students) in your discipline! 

Making Arguments & Critiques: 8th graders in Leslie Meyer's Expansion class are working on making arguments!  :)  They are creating claims about controversial topics, finding evidence to support their claim, and sharing their ideas through argumentative writing and oral presentation (speaking and listening).  Look forward to some interesting informed, and well-articulated debates next week!   Students in Maura Kelly's 7th grade all read The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson.  Despite being in the top ten for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher book award, students wrote advice to the author about how to improve the novel.  


Community Connections:  Several 5th graders recently visited Johnson State College to meet with Jeff Angione, advisor to 90.7 WJSC radio Johnson.  The goal of the trip was to emphasize the importance of reading fluency, communication and expression in the real world.  Students had fun recording the introductory message that DJs read on air and learning about how radio works.  They plan to return in a few weeks to do some real broadcasting. 


Follow-Up to Picture Books in the Middle Level Classroom: 

A big shoutout to Stephanie Zuccarello for bringing picture books into her 8th grade science class!  These books complement her students' exploration of environmental issues.  Students are tracking the cycle of products found littering the beach (i.e. single use plastic floss picks): from raw materials, to production, transportation, etc.  Students enjoyed reading The Lorax by Dr. Seuss as a reminder that "...Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not."