A group of Persell Middle School ELA teachers recently met to discuss, develop and implement supplemental instruction that more directly gets their students to the core of the Common Core Standards.
"I have been working with my students on paired passage," said teacher Melissa Forster. "I've focused on students being able to pull important information from the text and verbalizing to me what the problem is."
"I have also been doing paired passages with my students, and they did fine, but I found that I am leading the discussion and giving the information," said fellow teacher Katie Tarnowski. "My goal is for them to find the information independently."
Persell Middle School’s ELA Literacy Extension PLC Group meets before school. Pictured are: Katie Tarnowski, Melissa Forster, Stephanie Aselin, Andrea Calanni and Stephanie Ralph. Absent from the photo is Lisa Stahlman Colby.
"Every time we read with our students, not just in ELA but all subjects, we need to remind them of the who/what/where/problem/solution. Maybe that needs to written on the board to constantly remind them," said teacher Stephanie Ralph.
After a lengthy discussion on various topics, the group set the agenda for their next meeting, which included focusing on "an author's purpose," creating more paired passages and practices for re-stating questions because the teachers realize that these are the challenging skills for their students.
Persell Literacy Extension PLC group includes: Lisa Stahlman Colby, 5/6 reading specialist; Tarnowski, 15:1 special education ELA/math sixth grade; Forster, 12:1:1 special education fifth and sixth grades; Stephanie Aselin English as a second language; Andrea Calanni, 5/6 reading specialist; and Ralph, 12:1:1 special education seventh and eighth grades. These teachers have very unique circumstances as they teach literacy extension groups, which is an additional hour of ELA instruction on top of student's daily 90-minute ELA block. The group's bi-weekly, before school PLC meetings help them collaborate to best impart the Common Core ELA standards to their students.
The PLC group also provides a level of support for the group. Teachers can look at the data and analyze what skills students are mastering and where they need additional help. As a group, they talk about, and share, effective practices. The group ensures that every student is receiving the same instruction. By collaborating on a weekly basis, it allows the group to talk about their unique situations and ELA instruction.
The Persell PLC's purpose is to not only align to the Common Core Standards, but to also develop a scaffolded level of increasingly rigorous reading and writing activities that meet students' independent and instructional levels of instruction.
"As interventionists, we follow approved direct instruction curricula that supports our response to intervention." said group member, Stahlman Colby. "As a school, we have a building-wide writing initiative, using strategies from author Maureen Auman's, 'Step-Up-To-Writing.' A second purpose of our PLC is to develop writing activities, responses and assignments that build on this initiative. We work to develop frequent writing tasks that correlate to the comprehension skills and strategies that we have taught during our ELA extension. This is incredibly advantageous as it not only supplements our Language! and Read Well (direct instruction) curricula, but is directly correlated to the Common Core Standards."