Teachers College Workshop Model
The Teachers College at Columbia University has developed a workshop model of instruction for both reading and writing. Our staff began training using the Writers Workshop model with our K-5 grades and we have both embraced and embedded professional development in both Readers and Writers Workshop.
In this model, students are actively involved in both the reading and writing process through a series of mini lessons, conferences, writing journals, genre and author studies. Students are explicitly taught strategies and then given the opportunity to practice them and embed those skills. The workshop model is focused on the students as active learners, active readers and writers.
The Writers Workshop is the format for writing instruction that includes authentic practice, through the use of student writing journals. Each student is a working author with the teacher as mentor and guide. Students keep writing journals, develop seed ideas, create numerous written pieces and take chosen pieces to publication. Students write in many different genres, selecting topics, peer conferencing with the teacher as model and guide.
STAR/Renaissance Assessments are computer based assessments in Math and English Language Arts, that are given over the course of a school year. There are three screenings each year with the option for additional assessment to track student progress. Renaissance assessments provide our district with actionable data and take about 20 minutes per assessment.
The software uses adaptive technology, meaning that a student’s response to a question determines the level and type of the next question. This creates an accurate picture of where each student is ready to receive instruction and provides teachers the data needed to differentiate instruction for our students. It also provides work in skill areas identified by each child’s test results.
The Next Generation Science Standards introduce an exciting approach to science instruction. These new standards, or performance expectations, link three dimension of learning. These are the Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts and Science & Engineering practices. Implementation of the new standards begins in the coming year (2016-2017) for grades 6 and above. The K through fifth grade implementation will occur with the 2017 - 2018 school year. Our staff has been preparing for this new change by working with all the sending district schools during the 2015 - 2016 school year.
The Crosscutting Concepts allow students to explore the connections within Earth, Life, Physical, Space sciences and Engineering design as well as allow them to see those connections across many curricular areas. Some examples of these would include cause and effect relationships and patterns. We see the use of patterns in science, art, spelling, math and many other content areas. This helps students see the “science” behind much of our lives.
The Science and Engineering Practices involve the process by which scientists investigate and explore the world around us. The new standards follow an inquiry based approach to learning. By using this “hands on” approach to studying, students have a deeper understanding of our world and can better apply that knowledge in any setting.
The Disciplinary Core Ideas are those key ideas in science that have the broadest level of importance within science and engineering. The are grouped traditionally into the four domains of Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science and Engineering. These domains would include the study of the universe, life cycles, ecosystems, biology, matter and energy, waves, and engineering design, to name a few.
Math instruction, for many years now, has been concept based instruction. This includes a more hands on approach to math, with the use of manipulatives and hands on lessons, that allow students greater understanding of the concepts that underlie the basis of mathematics. It is often referred to as “teaching beyond the facts.”
Our district utilizes Go Math! This program utilizes both print and computer based materials. Go Math provides for both large and small group instruction, with options for both acceleration and remediation, to meet the needs of all learners. We continue to work towards creating a math program that uses a variety of resources, addresses the standards and is engaging for students.
The New Jersey Tiered System of Supports committee oversees instruction for students based on screenings mandated by the state of New Jersey’s new Dyslexia legislation. Our approach has been to cast a broad net for our students that would benefit from additional instruction in language arts. We feel that providing that instruction at the early years of schooling allows student to grow quickly and successfully. We have a three tiered approach in identifying students, using data gathered from several assessment sources. Our teachers then provide targeted instruction in those areas. Each tier dictates the amount and frequency of time devoted to this instruction. Some of the intervention materials we use include the DIBELS assessments, Wilson Fundations, Sonday and Torgenson kits for instruction.
In Clinton Township, we follow the Renzulli model of enrichment for all students. It is our philosophy that all learners have a gift, whether that be in academics, athletics or the arts. We have numerous programs that provide enrichment for our students. Some of those programs include, Robotics, Word Masters, POPS, Law Fair, School newspapers, photographers, Memory Book, Continental Math League, Geography Bee, Reading Olympics, Art Line, and Golden Eagle Singers, to name a few. We encourage all students to participate in the many clubs and activities that are offered.
What is Dyslexia?
As with other learning disabilities, dyslexia is a lifelong challenge that people are born with. This language processing disorder can hinder reading, writing, spelling and sometimes even speaking. Dyslexia is not a sign of poor intelligence or laziness. It is also not the result of impaired vision.