My classroom is just a stop on a journey of learning that begins at birth and should never end. I focus on student-centered strategies that encourage each child to invest in themselves and draw upon past learning, existing schemas and personal interests through a high level of choice in how they apply and practice classroom acquired skills.
To support students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds differentiated instruction is necessary and forms the rockbed of a program that supports each student’s academic, social and emotional needs. That is why I ensure that my program includes research-rich individual, small group and whole class activities that are visually, aurally and tactily engaging.
Project-Based Literacy Instruction
Critical thinking is where skill, independence and motivated inquiry meet. With that in mind, my classroom is technologically rich and largely project-based and includes, but not limited to the following:
- Small group book clubs based on genre interest (PALS- Peer-Assisted Learning Strategy)
- Individual non-fiction writing products (editorial, op-ed, political cartoon, radio podcast, video podcast, etc.)
- Spoken word production (poetry, monologue, and song lyrics)
- Children’s book production
- How-To book production
In an effort to support independence and life-long learning the curriculum that I’ve developed is heavy with integrated reading strategies that improve comprehension, automaticity and fluency. My standards based approach teaches the skills students need while also respecting each child’s individuality. Students keep journals and read a variety of texts that encourage and support their personal interests as well as broaden their existing knowledge.
A collaborative classroom is one where ideas are born, challenged and transformed. To foster that positive environment student’s must feel safe and encouraged, not just by the teacher, but by each other. With heterogeneous and homogeneous groupings children receive skill-specific instruction while also learning to appreciate and encourage the abilities of others while growing as better readers and producers of writing. These classroom programs support that aim:
Kudos – The Kudos program is essentially a glass jar that once it is filled can be traded for a class agreed upon reward (pizza party or other fun activity). Students earn marbles by encouraging others, or when they are praised for being positivity soldiers by other teachers or learning community members.
Ticketmaster- The Ticket master program encourages leisure reading by awarding a raffle ticket to a student each time they complete a book that has not been assigned or related to another class project. The tickets are then placed into a bag and drawn at the end of the month for a prize (internet time, movie poster, pens, stickers, etc.).
Many adolescent students are struggling readers, but may not receive the attention they need because their deficits have not been identified. Because of this each semester begins with an informal assessment of each student’s reading fluency, accuracy and comprehension. Each student is asked to read a passage from a familiar story like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and then evaluated. Click here for a sample rubric.
Formative assessments are given throughout the year, outside of benchmark testing to provide a clear picture of where students are and where they should be going.