We are teacher groupies.
RWS has from the beginning been designed to be a teacher-led program. While we wholeheartedly believe in the value of student choice when it comes to classroom instruction, we also know that teacher choice is just as important. We do not think sticking a kid in the back of the classroom in front of a computer monitor, headphones clamped like a vise on their heads is a valid method of creating a lifetime communicator. There is no substitute for a teacher led classroom and authentic conversation whether live and in-person or across a virtual platform.
Our friends in Los Fresnos, TX (LFISD) used RWS, Intermediate/Middle Level 2, as a tool in their Summer Jumpstart program – which this year, because of the pandemic, was delivered virtually. So – rather than me rambling on, let’s hear from LFISD Middle School ELAR Strategist, Cori Spellane:
Cori: This summer Los Fresnos CISD launched our first ever Summer Jumpstart. We wanted to offer students an interactive online kick start to the 2020-2021 school year. Students participated live during the scheduled time or caught the instructional videos on demand. As a 6th grade language arts Jumpstart teacher, I was excited to implement Read Write Speak it!
Although I was terrified to teach remotely for the first time, I found the program was easily implemented virtually. We used Sara and Michael’s fun poems to start each day. The kids really enjoyed listening to the author read the poem and practicing reading it themselves. The topics were so relevant that we quickly lost time chatting and discussing the clever ideas and concepts. The kids often remarked that it didn’t feel like they were analyzing poetry, but in reality, that’s exactly what they were doing.
The quick writes and journal topics were kid friendly and eased the stress of writer’s block so often associated with middle school writers. Students were able to practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing daily without the added headache of intentionally structuring these domains into my lesson plans.
But the very best part was the audio challenge! After several days of rehearsal, my students recorded themselves reciting the poem or their own piece of writing. They felt like YouTube sensations! They loved the opportunity to perform in this low stress manner, and as their teacher, I loved the confidence and fluency they built as they practiced. I highly recommend this program to any teacher that wants her students engaged while building confidence and fluency!
Here are some samples of her student’s work as they complete the Social Emotional Response portion of the lesson crafted around Sara Holbrook’s poem, Love Heals as well as a poem of Michael Salinger’s, What Makes Me Happy. Notice the difference in length and detail between the pieces while each student still makes that personal connection to the poem. Each student succeeds and gains a deeper comprehension of the text by relating it to their own experience and sharing that relationship with others: