#150: The Program

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Get with the program!

No, but really. This is about the reading program that kids use at school, and how interesting it’s been for me to observe it so far. I may have written about this before, but hopefully not! I sometimes forget what I’ve written about already.

Essentially, a select number of title 1 students are given access to Lexia, a reading and literacy-improvement computer program, and then on certain days during the week, I take them out of their classes and they complete their Lexia assignments. It’s a fairly complicated program, in that it’s similar to the SBAC test; it assigns work for students based on their strengths and weaknesses, and then feeds that data to my end, where I can adjust my instruction based on their performance. In layman’s terms, they work on phonics or literacy questions and growth on their own, and then I use their work in the reading group I run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The kids love and request to use it, which makes me think that it’s probably a good thing for them. If kids are asking to learn, that’s always a positive sign in my book.

Lexia also tracks the amount of time people spend on the program, and it looks for “active minutes” to ensure that students are using their time appropriately. Sometimes, you catch a student who’s just staring at the screen, accruing minutes and minutes of time but not actually making progress in their learning. That’s a bit of a shame.

I don’t use Lexia all the time, though; sometimes, it’s more useful for us to take our instruction outside of Lexia and into a different context. For example, I’ve been using CommonLit a lot more recently, as it was a huge helper during my teaching the year before. The resources are entirely free and accessible to teachers so long as they have a school email account.

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#108: The Motion

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The motion of the ocean, it’s time to discuss “Locomotion” by Jacqueline Woodson, a book I’ve discovered for the first time recently as part of my literacy reading group. It’s a fantastic story with a unique style and format, as it’s written primarily in poetic verse, interspersed with prose and epistle poetry. Lonnie, the main character, showcases his poetic development while simultaneously showing his story and character development. He grows as a character as he learns how to write poetry, and you can see him learn how to write poetry as the story continues, in a meta-textual sense; the poems rise in complexity as the story moves, and the variety of poetic formats increases page by page. I loved reading “Locmotion” for its easy to pick up style and quick pace. Kids love it, too, because the book is split up into dozens of short poems rather than chapters, and this makes it a more enjoyable read. I’ve found it to be a hit with the kids so far. It reminds me of “Carver: A Life in Poems,” which I read as part of my Adolescent Literature course in grad school.

But what’s most striking, to me, about this book is its plot and storyline. The main character, Lonnie, suffers as a result of his parents getting incinerated in a house fire. He lives in a foster home with an overbearing, oppressive foster mother who doesn’t listen to his suggestions. He and his sister live separately, in different foster homes, and rarely see each other. The plot is moving, and it made me reconsider in some ways how I feel about my own family, how nice it is to have people alive. I doubt my life would be the same otherwise.