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The Many Forms of Success

While sixth graders concentrate on what they need to know for the Connecticut Mastery Tests, their teacher notes that she already has seen important gains.

In Ms. Boxwoods sixth grade class in early January, she was reading aloud to students from the novel Belle Praters Boy, as they followed along. The exercise was part of the classs 90-minute literacy block using the Success for All program.

The class has been working on the book over five weeks. Each week there is a reading and writing assignment related to the book The novel actually is geared toward a fourth-grade reading level.

Boxwood has found that the students prefer reading a whole novel to working on several shorter reading passages. The kids like the book because it is a great mystery and holds their attention. It also has lots of humor.

During the literacy block, students also do partner reading and silent reading. Some students in the class are reading at a first-or second-grade level, and some above fourth grade, which means Boxwood has to tweak her lesson plans a bit. But all the students will take the sixth grade Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT).

At one point, Boxwood had kids stand and stretch and do Simon Says, To clear the cobwebs, as she put it.

As the CMTs get closer, Boxwood said she might replace the last 15 minutes of the literacy block with CMT instruction.

I feel the Safe Harbor pressure, she told Education World. The kids are aware of it, but we try not to put too much pressure on them.

While realizing the importance of the CMT results to the school and its future, Boxwood said that the focus on the test can overshadow the progress teachers see in class every day. Its a shame that we cant celebrate those gains, she said. I had a special education kid who gained 100 points in reading and an immigrant from India who went from a first grade to third grade reading level in eight weeks. We dont always celebrate those successes as much as what happens on one day.

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
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