Thursday, April 3, 2014

Seussapalooza: Dr. Seuss' Birthday and More!

Each year the National Education Association (NEA) highlights literacy through the celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday during the first week of March.  It is also called Read Across America (RAA).  Schools use this opportunity to create school-wide celebrations around literacy.  This year, at Sonora, we had a weeklong celebration that was led by our "Seuss-ta-tic" librarian, Mrs. Brenda Love!

To really make the event successful and include the promotion of literacy, Mrs. Love, with the support of our leadership team, began to plan early in the year.  She purchased and collected enough books to ensure that every child PK-5th grade received a book during RAA week.  She made these accessible to the teachers the week prior to the RAA kick-off so teachers could gather the appropriate books for each students' reading level. 

We shared our overall plan with the staff prior to the kick-off.  Mrs. Love shared a file on Google Drive with shared reading poems, pintables, and other resources.

We kicked off RAA at our monthly school-wide assembly called Hoot n' Holler the Friday before the actual RAA week.  All our teachers wore a Dr. Seuss hat for the assembly, which is a true joy for all the students and parents to witness.  Teachers read the RAA poem:

You're never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You're never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you've got.
In schools and communities,
Let's gather around,
Let's pick up a book,
Let's pass it around.
There are kids all around you,
Kids who will need
Someone to hug,
Someone to read.
Come join us March 3rd
Your own special way
And make this America's
Read to Kids Day

Then, the students read the RAA promise:

I promise to read
Each day and each night.
I know it's the key
To growing up right.
I'll read to myself,
I'll read to a crowd.
It makes no difference
If silent or loud.
I'll read at my desk,
At home and at school,
On my bean bag or bed,
By the fire or pool.
Each book that I read
Puts smarts in my head,
'Cause brains grow more thoughts
The more they are fed.

Finally, the stage curtains were opened to reveal a "birthday surprise".  The books teachers had chosen for each child in their classroom were displayed as gifts - one for each class (a true gift of literacy).

Coach Cole and Coach McGinley worked with the students in PE to do a flash mob dance.  At the end of the assembly we did it one more time.  Not really about RAA, but thought you might enjoy!

 Sonora Elementary Flash Mob (RAA Week)
The celebration continued over the next week based on this note below that was sent to parents:

 We did have to alternate our plan some due to snow days, but we did get all the days accomplished.  On Wednesday, March 5th, we started with Wacky Wednesday.  Yes, we dressed wacky with mismatched clothes and wacky hair.  Also, Mrs. Love chose two students with the most growth in their reading in the first nine weeks to deliver the books to each classroom. 
 On Thursday, March 6, the students brought a gently used book to be donated to the Children’s House.  This allowed them to get a free picture taken in our “Seuss Photo Booth.”  Students that donated books received a free photo.  Everyone got in on the action! 
I even got in on some of the action!
 On Friday, March 7 we celebrated the book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by wearing red, white & blue.
On Saturday, March 8 (yes on Saturday; we had snow days to make up!) we celebrated the book I Am NOT going to get up Today! by wearing our pajamas.
On Monday, March 10 we celebrated the Grinch by wearing as much Green as we could!
 On Tuesday, March 11 we celebrated Fox in Socks by wearing our crazy socks!!
Originally we had scheduled a Family Math Night for March 4th.  Yet, we were not in school due to snow.  So, our Mathapalooza was held the following week on the 11th. 
We gathered parents together to discuss a K-2nd topic and 3rd-5th grade topic.  Students were taken to recess, while we "taught" parents how to support fact fluency and use real-world situation, like a trip to the grocery store, to teach math to their children.  Our K-2 students were able to go to their classrooms and play fact fluency games.  They were able to leave with the games to continue their work on fact fluency.  Parents and children all met back in the cafeteria for nachos provided by the Sonora Parent Teacher Association.  What a great night!
One other highlight of the week was a daily trivia on the morning announcements.  We also included our school-wide vocabulary for the week to fit the Dr. Seuss theme:  nonsense.  To build upon this, some kindergarten students built nonsense stories.
There is a fath in my bath. 
Fath is a nonsense word.
Vower is a nonsense word. 
There is a vower in my shower.

At the end of the week, not only had we had fun and celebrated literacy, but we were able to give back to our community.  Our students donated 785 books to the Children's House!
Way to go, Scholars!
Be watching for my next post . . . Sonora:  First Elementary Founder's Winner!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ice, Ice Baby! When Technology opens a door!

With snow (ice) day number 12 at our door, it was time to get creative.  

List of our snow days, with make-up plan.
We know that the children we serve do not just learn best sitting in a desk/table in a classroom listening to a teacher recite their knowledge.  No, they need to be active learners, participating in the knowledge acquisition.  The students sitting in our classrooms today are of the Generation Z (born 1996 and forward). For these students, the internet and other forms of technology have been major influences in their lives. They are accustomed to and need immediate feedback - their instant gratification! As teachers,we must change how we teach and engage students.  One of our teachers at Sonora is highlighting that today through the use of Google Chat.

Josh Worthy, our Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Facilitator, is iced in like the rest of us today.  Yet, our conference team is preparing for conference, which is two weeks away.  There is no time to waste.  Therefore, his students are working from the safety of their homes with Google Chat.  

Last night he sent out an e-mail to all his conference students:
     "We're going to try something new tomorrow.  Since school has been canceled and it looks like it may be a day or two before our kids will be able to work together, I'm going to host an online Google Hangout tomorow morning and maybe another one in the afternoon.  This is a lot like a Skype call that the kids can video chat or text chat back and fourth about projects, ideas, etc.  
     I'd like for Rikki and Kylie to practice their Founder's presentation if at all possible.  Morgan, Landen and I would also be able to work on the Camp Alliance story map together through the Hangout.  Cayden would even be able to show us how to use Pivot animator through the "screen share" option.  Kalyssa and Lexus should be able to work on nametag design and booth ideas, too.  Not sure if I can get ahold of Josh H., but I'll keep trying.  It could be a REALLY cool event.  The best part is that it'd keep your kids busy for an hour or two during the snow day. ;)
     All you really need is an internet connection and a computer.  If you have a webcam, awesome.  If you have a mic, even better.  If you dont have ANY of this, you can even call in from you phone.  Its pretty cool stuff.  I'm hosting the event, so the chat will be private and only approved Sonora EAST students and parents will have strangers or unauthorized creeps will have access.
     If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.  Looking to launch the conference call around 10 am tomorrow morning.  It should be a lot of fun and its kind of exciting to be able to work on EAST stuff while the kids are snowed in.

So, this a.m. the children, safe in their homes, were hard at work on their EAST projects and EAST Conference preparation.  Yes, these students had an option.  They CHOSE to do this on a snow day!  Pretty powerful stuff!. 

Kylie, Ian, Rikki, and Mr. Worthy hard at work!
Using Social Media (Twitter and Facebook) to spread the word, they were lucky enough to get Mr. Matt Dozier, EAST CEO to join them.  As I type this they have taken a break for lunch, but will reconvene.  They have even added a previous student to the conversation.  

Mr. Matt Dozier, EAST Initiative, CEO
You may be wondering why I haven't joined them.  Well, my school computer does not have audio or video. I can watch, but not participate.  So, I chose to share their story!  

Great things are happening at Sonora Elementary!

Our EAST students are finalist in the Founder's Award for EAST, an award in honor of the founder, Tim Stephenson.  This is their 2nd year as finalist.  In the history of this award, our program is the only elementary ever to be finalist!  (Can you tell I am proud of them?)

You can checkout the full events and postings of the day on the Sonora EAST Facebook Page. You can find out more about the EAST Initiative at their website.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading Matters!

Reading Matters
Each nine weeks my assistant principal, Lindsay Hennarichs (you can follow her blog at, and I review 3 grade levels of report cards.  We try, if the teachers leave us enough room, to write a comment and give a “scholarly” stamp on each one for each student.  So, I cannot tell you the number of times that I read comments such as:
  • Keep reading!
  • Be sure and read every night for at least 20 minutes.
  •  Read with (child’s name) every night.
  •  Be sure to keep reading!
The teachers give out these comments without any regard to differentiation meaning that children of all reading abilities are encouraged to read!  Reading is tool for academic achievement that never goes out of style or out-of date.  Personally, I encourage my teachers to be well read, as I expect myself to be a reader.  Currently I am reading two books:

Two different types of reading with different purposes, but both of interest to me.  I am reading The Book Thief for enjoyment.  The Digital Leadership helps me in my own professional growth.

          Through reading, children learn about people, places and events outside their Reading it truly the key to success for all children (and adults)! 
Why does reading matter?

1.      Reading allows children to access the world. 
        Through reading, children learn about people, places and events outside their
 own experience. They are exposed to ways of life, ideas and beliefs about the 
        world which may be different from those which surround them. 

 2.   Reading improves a child’s vocabulary and leads to more highly-   
          developed language skills.
            This is because children learn new words as they read but also because
          children unconsciously absorb information as they read about things like 
          how to structure sentences and how to use words and language effectively. 

3.   Reading builds knowledge.
          This learning is important for its own sake however it also builds a store of
            background knowledge which helps younger children learn to 
            read confidently and well. 
Here are to resources to help:  one for teachers, and one for parents!

4.   Reading improves concentration.
      Children that can sit still and quietly can focus on the story.  If they read  
      regularly, they will develop the ability to focus for longer periods of time.

5.   Reading builds community.
      We, as humans, love to have a common interest with those we live and work    
      around.  How do we know which TV shows to watch? Which movies to go to?    
      Don’t we ask those we are around?  Then, how exciting is it to discuss those 
      shared experiences.  It is the same with books.  Isn’t that how book clubs, like 
      Oprah’s book clubs, became so popular?  While books provide similar 
      experiences, it also allows for language development through the shared 
      discussion.  A win-win!
(No link, but check out Oprah’s website.  Even off air, her book clubs are
alive and thriving building a world-wide community of readers.)

6.    Reading improves a child’s academic achievement.
            Students don’t just do better at subjects like reading, English and history. They 
            do better at all subjects and they do better all the way through school.  Current 
            math assessments require students to read, and problem solve.  Reading 
(Click here to see an interactive sample of the English Language Arts and Math assessments.)

      7.    Reading is entertaining.
           It’s true! You can take a book anywhere, even download a book on your phone, 
             and youll never be lonely or bored.  A book can take you to lands you dream of traveling, let you make friends you never thought you would, and even teach you
             a thing or two.  Books will never be out of style!

      8.   Reading helps kids develop empathy.
            Reading immerses us in someone else's thoughts and experiences so that we            effectively see the world through the eyes of another person; hence, reading 
            can make children/adults more empathetic.  Daniel Goleman, an expert in 
            emotional intelligence has found six positive results from the use of books 
            with children:
    Less physical violence at school
 Fewer name-calling incidents.
Fewer put-downs in the class.
Improved methods to reduce conflict.
Better sensitivity among children.
More incidents of active listening between children.
             For the last two years my 4th grade team has read aloud the book Wonder.  
             Each year they have come to me with stories of and examples of true empathy among the students. 

9.   Reading can be calming.
In an age of instant gratification and constant noise, it is necessary for us to have times of quiet.  From TV to computers, we seem to be inundated with  constant movement, flashing lights and noise.  Actually, our brains do need  rest.  When reading, we usually find a quiet, controlled environment.  As a matter of fact, I read every night to go to sleep to calm down and unwind from my day.
10.    Practice makes perfect!
     As a child reads more, they become better at reading.  Why do they need  
      to get better at reading?  (Did you read # 1-9?) 
So, take some time to read with or to your child today.  Let them see you read!  You will be giving them a gift a legacy of success!


Follow these links to infographics with startling information on literacy:

                                National Reading Campaign

                                      All Children Reading

Font credits to Jennifer Jones @
The fonts can be found on her Teacher Pay Teacher Account.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Basketball and Benchmark

Snow days can do crazy things to an administrator’s mind. Tomorrow will be our 3rd snow day, bookending a weekend.  So, actually I am on day 5 of limited access to friends, colleagues, and school.  When this happens it leads to an opportunity to reflect and make connections. 

My reflection came this weekend doing something I have loved since I was a child.  As a little girl growing up in Northwest Arkansas, my dad took me to the Razorback Basketball Games.  This was a tradition, and something I now share my family.  Yesterday, while enjoying the game with my oldest daughter and my husband, I reflected on how the school year is much like a basketball game. 

Have you ever noticed how the momentum builds gradually over the course of the game?  Players obviously want to win, but I don’t necessarily see them play with the same intensity the entire game.  You see, in Razorback Country we call it the “fastest 40 minutes of basketball”.  The inference is that when you play the Razorbacks the pace will be intense the entire game.  Well, there are times of intensity.  Yet, usually when the game starts everyone is mellow.  As fans we sit back and take most of initial game action with a lackadaisical attitude.  Oh, we clap, cheer, and sing the school songs during time outs, but we are not highly engaged.  Yet, in the last few minutes of the half, or, especially, the last few minutes of the game, we are highly engaged and excited, as are the players.   

As educators, we tend to do the same during the course of our game . . . our school year.  We start off the year strong, but with a lower intensity.  Again, we celebrate successes and plan for success, but not always preparing with intensity for the final outcome (state test).  Certain times during the year (conferences, nine weeks, semester), we also increase our intensity.  Yet, you can really see everyone get engaged, focused, and intense during the few weeks leading up the to the state accountability assessment (Arkansas = Benchmark).  Why don’t we all (players, administrators, teachers, students) play/prepare with same fervor the entire game/school year? 

Yes, there are other similarities:
  • Players watch the game tape to reflect and make adjustments, while teachers reflect on their lessons and student data to plan for future instruction.
  • Players and teachers have that final goal where they are evaluated in the public eye, leading to being ranked. (game score & test scores)

And differences:
  • Teachers teach every child that enters our school doors; coaches recruit and pick players even to the point of who plays at what time.
  • In a basketball game there will be a winning/losing team.  Yet, in education, all the students can win with a strong education.
Yet, I want to make sure that I encourage everyone to have the same intensity all year.  I want my school (teachers, students, and parents) to approach each day, week, month with the same fervor that occurs in the last few minutes of the game.  If we played with the highest engagement, focus and fervor, what would happen in our games?  what would happen in our schools?  Just imagine . . .  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Word Up! Vocabulary Instruction for the 21st Century at Sonora Elementary

As promised in my last blog, we are moving forward with a vengeance this year regarding our relentless focus to get all children reading on grade level!  Last year we focused on our analysis (running records and Developmental Reading Assessment) and instruction (providing both instructional and stretch levels of reading daily).  So, why are we adding vocabulary to our recipe for student achievement success?
Well, after reviewing data from several resources, we noticed that vocabulary was an area of concern for the majority of our students.  We believe there are several reasons for this.  First, we have about 40% English Language Learners who are acquiring English.  Second, we serve a population where 85% of our students receive free or reduced lunch.  Not all, but many of these students need a focus on vocabulary acquisition to move forward with reading success.  Ultimately, we know that reading research shows that vocabulary knowledge is the strongest predictor of reading success across content areas. So, we needed to create a systemic building-wide system for increasing vocabulary.  Again, a dear friend helped us get started, Mrs. Jennifer Jones.  If you don't already, you need to follow her blog which is a dynamite source of professional development!
Jennifer came to Sonora Elemetnary on July 1st and 2nd to do professional development in 21st Century Vocabulary instruction.  We called it Word Up!
What a change in our teaching of vocabulary! First, we are working on all three tiers of vocabulary instruction:  tier 1 words are basic words used in our everyday speech, tier 2 words are used across several content areas, tier 3  words are not frequently used except in specific content areas; yet, they are key to building knowledge and conceptual understanding within the various academic domains and should be integral to instruction of content. 

At Sonora we are focusing on all three.  Tier one words are being taught beginning in kindergarten with sight words or high frequency words that children will encounter daily.  Some examples are at, from, and, to, etc.  Tier 2 words are being taught through daily instruction in all content areas.  These words are also on class word walls. 

Tier 3 words are a work in progress building-wide.  Each 9 weeks our staff gets together to identify 9 grade level Tier 3 words in a given content area.  We began with math in August.  Click here to access Sonora's Tier 3 math vocabulary words by grade level.  Our teachers recognized quickly that we needed to also confirm the student friendly definitions.  So, we created these by grade leve, too.  Click here to see our definitions, vocabulary, and student friendly definitions.  A great resource to us during this process was a new publication by Marzano and Simms called,  Vocabulary for the Common Core.

We will be following this same process in reading, science, and social studies.  The process involves a set of criteria recommended by Marzano

We have purchased composition notebooks for every K - 5th grade student at our building.  This allows for our systemic building-wide focus on vocabulary.  In addition, we do a Scholarly Word of the Week each week based on Tier 2 words.  The first word this year was scholar.  Our mascot is Sonny and Scholar.  Isn't he cute?  Yet, we wondered if our students truly knew what a "scholar" means.  Hence, it was our first Scholary Word of the Week.
We announce the Scholarly Word of the Week each week with a little music.  Each day we ask the students to do something different with the word.  We begin with a student friendly definition.  We progress to synonyms/antonyms, a sentence, and a picture.  See some samples below of our work in our first week as we modeled for our students, as well as one recent.
 Mrs. Reed's 1st Grade Class
                                                          Mrs. Sandy's 2nd Grade Class

The following are examples of Tier 2 charts the classes develop as they (purposefully) encouter words in their daily instruction.

Below are examples of student vocabulary notebooks:

In the classrooms you will find word walls.  Below you will see just a sample of one classroom.  Yet, Mrs. Hennarichs has also created a school-wide word wall that encompasses words form all grade levels.
Scholary Word Wall (located in Cafeteria) 

 We are also rewarding children when they are "Caught Using Scholarly Vocabulary".  We use a school-wide template.  The students bring their cards to the office to put in a vocabulary word box.  Then, each month at our Hoot n' Holler Assemblies we try to recognize 20 to 30 students randomly from the tickets in the box.

We recently held a We Are Common Core Vocabulary Night where we taught the parents how they can support our work to increase their child's vocabulary.  We had a phenomenal turn-out!   During our time with parents, we provided them a composition notebook and a template for how to do 4 sqaure vocabulary with their child at home.  We encouraged the parents to support the scholarly word of the week, as well as help students learn words they encounter in conversations at home and in their environment.  Here is a sample from the internet:
In the classroom, teachers save copy cost significantly by having the students fold the paper into 1/4ths to create a four square.  Also, not specified by the example above, the vocabulary word is written/entered in the center circle.
While all this is going on, we are finding unique ways to engage students in their vocabulary learning.  On October 31st we are having a school-wide vocabulary parade.  We are working with our parents, again to try to increase the awareness of vocabulary in our lives.  Every child in the building will be participating; if students are not able to create a vocabulary costume at home, teachers will be working with the students to help identify a word in the current curriculum to "be" at our parade.  I promise we will post pictures to our Facebook page, as well as I will try to add a new blog here.
I will continue to highlight our vocabulary instruction as we go throughout the year.  We are currently tracking vocabulary data as collected on Northwest Evaluation Association's Measuring Academic Progress.  We hope to share our success with student's increasing vocabulary, and consequently their increased reading achievement.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Reflection on Sonora's Literacy Focus

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A Year in Reflection
The Sonora Elementary School Team welcomes everyone to the 2013-2014 school year!

We are off to an "owlsome" year at Sonora. 

Yet before beginning a new school year, we took some time to reflect on our building-wide literacy focus from last school year.  Last year we focused on increasing text complexity at Sonora by aligning our use of running records and Developmental Reading Assessments.  We increased use of non-fiction text, while we ensured that every child was instructed in a reading group or a literacy group daily. 

My professional reading over the 2012 summer included Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Calkins, Ehrenworth, and Lehman.  While reading I began to take notes and areas to highlight for our staff professional development.  During the summer I took some time to write down the high points that we had control over.  We don't have control over what happens when a child gets in the car or on the bus and rides away, but we do have control over a purposely planned day.  So, I shared these throughts:

1.  Ensure that children move up levels of text complexity by providing them with lots of just-right high-interest texts and the time to read them. 
  • How much actual eyes-on-print time (independent reading) do students have in which to read?
  • In order for students to make necessary progress, students need at least 45 minutes in school and more time at home to read books that they can read with 96% accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.
  • Chances are great that students who are not making optimal progress as readers do not have time in school each day for 45 minutes of eyes-on-print reading – not talking about reading or writing about books – actual reading.
  • In Outliers,  by Malcolm Gladwell (also the author of Tipping Point), a study of the conditions that lead to extraordinary success talks about the theory that expertise requires an investment of ten thousand hours.  Hours of practice.  Hours and hours.
  • Readers, too, become great when they have many hours of practice.
  • The “engine that motors” reader’s development is the time spent in engaged reading and in talking and writing about that reading. 
  • Organize the school day so that students have long blocks of time for reading. 
  • Students in the classrooms of more effective teachers read ten times as much as students in classrooms of less effective teachers (Allington and Johnston 2002).
  • Allington’s research recommends 90 minutes in a school day for actual reading.
2.  Conduct running records of students’ work with texts at a gradient of text levels, ascertaining the level of text complexity that the students can handle, and to track students’ progress up the ladder of text complexity. 
  • Make sure every teacher has been trained to use running records to assess readers.
  • Assess students as readers with running records.
  • Make sure teachers know how to analyze running records (MSV – it!)
  • Tim Rasinski notes that fluency is one of the strongest indicators of comprehension.
  • To accelerate your students’ progress up the ladder of text complexity, research strongly supports that you conduct running records to determine level of text complexity a student can handle with 95% accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.
  • Then, match students to appropriate text.
  • Teach in ways that keep readers progressing toward texts that are just one notch beyond those they can read with ease.
Why was I so passionate about literacy and getting this specific information to our teachers.  Well, a review of Developmental Reading Assessment Data at the end of our first year showed that approximately 50% of children were being promoted to the next grade level without being on grade level.  We knew we had to make a concerted and systematic focus on literacy instruction, so we started with SMART Goals. 

We will increase student text complexity levels (measured through DRA)
through the use and analysis of running records to increase the number of children reading on grade level at the end of the 2013-2014 school year:
                  Kindergarten . . .                       75% at level 4 or above   
                  First Grade . . .                          75% at level 18 or above 
                  Second Grade . . .                      75% at level 28 or above 
                  Third Grade . . .                         80% at level 38 or above
                  Fourth Grade . . .                       80% at level 50 or above
                  Fifth Grade . . .                          80% at level 60 or above
Steps to attain the goal:
     o Train (retrain) staff on Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) and Running Records
        (administration and analysis).
     o Create a folder for each student’s movement of text complexity with Growth Line Chart.
     o Complete and analyze a running record on every child:
    • below grade level weekly.
    • on grade level bi-monthly.     
What we didn't take into consideration was the use of growth trajectories or individual reading growth charts, which was something I borrowed from Hello Literacy Blogspot.  The premise is to make sure every child continues to grow one year in reading - even those alrady on grade level.  Most importantly, we wanted to ensure that those below grade level increased 1.5 years in reading during their 9 months of school instruction.  The overall goal is that children who were with us throughout their school career would leave 5th grade reading on grade level.

From my continued reading and use of social media, I befriended Jennifer Jones, of .   Jennifer has become a true friend of Sonora.  She became a partner with us in this literacy venture, which still continues today.  Mrs. Jones came to Sonora in January to help us get a better grasp on Common Core.  She used a powerful PowerPoint from a presentation she has presented in numerous settings called The 50 Shades of the Common Core.  As powerful as the PowerPoint is in content the learning would not have been the same without her presentation.  She also wrote about her visit in her blog - check it out!

Teachers in kindergarten through 5th grade filled out a growth chart on every child in our building.   Quarterly these charts will turned in to me with the report cards.  At the end of the year we had evidence that reading achievement was improving:
  •       Kindergarten . . .    90% on grade level
  •       First Grade . . .       67%  on grade level and 2% on the growth trajectory (69%)
  •       Second Grade . . .  68% on grade level and 5% on the growth trajectory   (73%)
  •       Third Grade . . .     61% on grade level and 17% on the growth trajectory (78%)
  •       Fourth Grade . . .   59% on grade level and 12% on the growth trajectory (71%)
  •       Fifth Grade . . .      66% on grade level and 14% on the growth trajectory (80%)
 *growth trajectory means a child grew 1.5 years in reading during one school year of 9 months!
We only met our goal in reading in kindergarten, but we were saw evidence of improvement at every grade level.  Remember, the year before about 50% at each grade were not on grade level!  Additional data from the Literacy Benchmark Exam (Arkansas' Accountability Exam given in 3rd - 5th grades show that the goal of 80% was achieved:
  • 82% of 3rd grade students were proficient* or advanced
  • 80% of 4th grade students were proficient or advanced
  • 82% of 5th grade students were proficient or advanced.
*Proficient = grade level performance
We are not there yet!  As we venture into our 3rd year at Sonora we are continuing our focus on literacy, with an emphasis this year on building-wide vocabulary instruction specifically in Tier 2 and 3.  Research shows that vocabulary knowledge is the strongest predictor of reading success across content areas. So, my next blog . . . what IS Sonora Elementary School doing this year to help students know more words?
Quick highlight
Our EAST Students are working on a Sonora Elementary App.  Be watching for more details.  See below for a story on this upcoming application.