#150: The Program

book shelves book stack bookcase books

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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

man skating near building

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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.

Coloring in School

Picking up pencils,
colored pencils,
crayons and pens,
put them in with
the right colors,
please

Quick!

Coloring
is a very soothing
activity,
isn’t it?

Worry about the
territories later,
just the states now,
just color between
the lines
and
finish the rest
for homework,
or during study skills
on
Wednesday
morning,
when
we’ll be finishing
the rest of
the movie

#79: Reading

brown book page

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Reading, it turns out, isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay. But harder than it looks, motivating a bunch of students to read when they don’t want to. It doesn’t come simply.

When I began my most recent job as an instructional aide (or literacy interventionist) at a local charter school, I knew from the beginning that I’d be taking over a reading group and leading them through grammar, comprehension, and language studies. I knew that the students would have low motivation, that they’d need a helping hand to guide them from start to finish. That’s where I come in. My job is to motivate, to excite, to instill a passion for reading that pushes them through the rest of their Humanities courses and into a lifetime of literature loving.

But how possible is that?

In anticipating the reading group, I thought to plan some fun activities, games with prizes, and worksheets. I adapted Taboo, a classic adult card game, into a more school-friendly version and printed out the cards for us to use. I also adapted Would You Rather? and wrote up an interest inventory, so that I would better understand where students were coming from, where their interests lie, and if they like reading but just don’t get how to read. I modeled Taboo for them, which helped them figure out how to describe the words in front of them.

When it comes to reading, not everyone is interested. Not everyone becomes a lifelong reader after exposure to an excitable teacher. More often than not, reading becomes a part of someone’s life when they make the choice to read. When choice is hung over someone’s head and denied from them, it’s no wonder reading tends to have a reputation for being boring and solitary.

Montage Lit Reading

Hello, great people!

I’ve just returned from what was one of the more interesting events of my life, to say the least. For the second time, I’ve been asked to read some of my poetry in front of a crowd. Although both events happened on a small, almost personal scale, never in my life did I expect something like this to happen.

Allow me to clarify.

Never in my life did I ever think that I would be reading something so personal and emotional for me, to a group of people.  It’s surreal, and amazing every time.

I also applaud anyone and everyone who continues to read and write poetry and/or prose in a society that doesn’t appreciate it all as much as they should. But, I digress. That’s a topic for another day.

When people laugh with the funny stuff, and seem moved by the depressing stuff, I know I’ve taken at least some of them on a journey, and that’s ultimately what art is all about. To move people.

Until next time,

Anthony

An Apology for Inactivity

Hello everyone!

Lately, a nasty viral case of the cold has stricken me, and so I’ve been unable to write for this blog. While I always intend to post once per day, it has been difficult to concentrate on reading, writing, and blogging activities while under a fever.

Enough talk of sickness, ailments, and such. I am not making this post to harbor your sympathy and pity; I want to engage in creating a feasible schedule for my upcoming posts for as soon as I recover from being sick.

Firstly, my Story of the Week series ran short this week for reasons already explained. This is my first priority.

Secondly, my experience reading my poetry to alumni and English faculty here has yet to be documented and discussed.

And lastly, I have not had the opportunity to read much of my followers’ works in the meantime! I have missed out on so many potentially-great works to be read from my blogging friends. I miss that the most.

I have reached 100 followers on my blog, now. I never imagined obtaining this achievement, but here it is! I’m so glad that 100 people–with a few bots in between, I imagine–find my work so intriguing that you’d like to see more of it. I hope that my small leave of absence has not deterred nor disappointed my followers, especially after reaching this rather small but meaningful milestone.