Literacy is fundamental to student learning, not only in Language Arts class but across the entire curriculum. At SHMS, our teachers are always looking for strategies to help students increase their literacy skills. This past summer, the faculties at both Spring Hill and Woodland Spring middle schools began an intentional implementation of literacy skills that target vocabulary & writing skills.
Over the summer of 2022, a dozen teachers read and discussed The Core Six by Harvey Silver, et al. During Professional Development in September, they presented quick ‘commercials’ for each strategy to their fellow faculty members. Then, it was up to the entire faculty to decide which strategies they thought would be the most impactful. Two strategies - Vocabulary’s CODE and Write to Learn - were chosen as the focus for this school year.
Vocabulary’s CODE is - in a nutshell - an approach that helps students learn new vocabulary words more effectively. The acronym stands for Connect - Organize - Deep processing - Exercise understanding, the steps a student must move through to incorporate new words into his or her personal lexicon. Teachers spent the fall semester incorporating research-based tools and activities into lessons that are known for increasing student retention.
This semester, teachers are intentionally focusing on incorporating three types of writing into their class work: provisional, readable, and polished. These types of writing serve a gamut of purposes that helps students connect to prior knowledge, process and construct meaning, and gain proficiency in the total writing process. Teachers are also taking advantage of the opportunity to observe their colleagues in real time as they integrate these strategies into lessons.
Sydney Lual, 7th grade social studies teacher, implemented Building Writing this week in her Geography classes. Building Writing is a type of Readable writing activity that helps students develop their answers to essential questions through brainstorming, conferencing with a partner and then insmall groups, followed by class discussion. Students generate ideas and expand their answers throughout the activity. Finally, students outline and draft a response. Lual’s classes looked at the topics a geographer might focus on when studying a region. Next week they will use their brainstorming work to complete a paragraph on why those topics are important to study. Photos accompanying this article are from her class on Thursday.