Giving students the confidence to succeed

Published: Monday, June 9, 2014 at 04:53 PM.

A number of factors contributed to this year’s improvement in third grade FCAT scores at Franklin County School.

Teamwork: Over the summer of 2013, teachers were asked to change grade levels. Katrina Ham and I were two of the teachers who were reassigned. I moved from the fourth to the third grade, while my colleague, Katrina Ham, moved from the first to the third grade. Both of us were eager to accept the challenge, as were current third grade teachers Pam Schaffer and Jeannie Ford.

We began developing a pacing guide for the reading and math curriculum to ensure all FCAT-tested standards would be taught by testing time. This guide was followed closely throughout the year. The newly adopted reading curriculum “Journey’s” by Harcourt Publishing presented challenges that were addressed by extending the five-day lesson plan to a seven-day lesson plan, to allow for more in-depth teaching of the material. In this plan they incorporated five 20-minute small group sessions five days a week with the skill based learning stations highly saturated with the Journey’s targeted skills for that lesson. In addition to this, third graders were divided into skill level groups and received 25 minutes each afternoon with one of the four teachers in Intensive Reading Instruction. This was both remedial as well as enrichment to meet the needs of all students. All four teachers worked together to make these groups fluid as students learning needs changed.

Class Size: Each third grade class had between 14 and 16 students.

Fidelity: It was very important throughout the year to teach the core reading and math curriculum with fidelity. Everything taught was based on a Next Generation Sunshine State Standards as well as incorporating Common Core standards. Students and teachers together kept track of their learning and were praised when each skill was mastered.

Consistency: All four third grade teachers followed the curriculum closely and were simultaneously teaching the same lessons each day, that way at the end of the day, hallway conversations were held about what went well and what needed to be tweaked. This kept ideas and creative juices flowing and made teaching fresh and new with each week’s lessons.

Data Driven Instruction: Periodically assessments were given in math and reading using the STAR Reading, STAR Math programs as well as Discovery Education’s Reading and Math Assessments. The data collected from these assessments gave the teachers an idea of what skills needed more attention and on what skills the students had demonstrated success. They also used data from the FAIR Reading test that is given to all students in Florida’s schools. This data helped determine which of our intensive reading instruction the students needed.

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