Students gaining confidence, skills

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Teachers at Magdalena School delivered mostly good news during the programmatic portion of the Board of Education’s meeting on April 17. Progress students made during the current school year could be seen, heard and read in the numbers reported by elementary, mid school and high school educators.

Elementary School teacher Shelly Rice started out the meeting on a positive note during her introduction of a presentation about how Tier II intervention has led to reading growth.

“I’d just like to say that I love this school,” she said. “I’ve been a teacher for 32 years and I’ve learned more here than I have anywhere else.”

Students are learning too, as was evident by the videos she showed to school members and testimony from the fourth graders themselves. Rice showed video segments of six students. In each case the first clip was of the student reading when they entered the Tier II program and another recorded more recently.

First up was Keanna Torres, who couldn’t seem to sit still when she read from a book last December.

“I was wiggling and nervous,” she said.

But there was a noticeable difference when Rice recorded her again this month.

“I was more fluid and confident,” Keanna said.

After her clips were shown, Libby Sedillo told what she learned over the last few months that made her reading improve.

“Good readers get meaning from what they’re reading,” she said.

Miguel Martinez and Kyle Julian both said employing the reading strategies they learned made a big difference.

“I was more focused,” Miguel said.

Catrina Otero and Rose Secatero also said focusing on the meaning of the words helped their progress.

When asked what other strategies they used to become better readers, the students said, visualization, making connections and guided reading. Taking books home to read for practice was also a good tactic, they said.

Rice said it’s important that the students do some reading every day. Using video, she said, was visual proof of their improvement.

“I show it to parents. It’s a great tool for parent conferences,” she said.

In the numbers

Middle and high school teachers also spoke of the progress their students have made in subject areas such as reading, math and science.

Teacher Gail Lujan led off talking about the English Expo last year, an event she was extremely proud of. She lamented, though, about how teachers’ efforts often go unnoticed.

“We feel invisible, but we’re not invisible when there are problems,” she said.

Later in the meeting, Lujan reported on what’s being done to improve reading by older students. She identified action steps as continued strategy training, vocabulary development and, of course, practice.

Lujan said she and fellow reading teacher Sharon Harris also took care in selecting books and tracking progress with MAP scores and common core standards.

Harris presented some of the scores that reflected improvement.

“60 percent of eighth-graders showed growth of two points or more, and 70 percent of seventh-graders showed growth,” Lujan said.

There weren’t always gains. Harris noted how the low score of one student going through a hard time in her life skewed the scores for one group. But for the most part the analysis reflected progress.

“We think the data is solid,” she said.

 


-- Email the author at tslast@dchieftain.com.