Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stretching Read 180 Stretch Texts

It has been ages, I know.  The last month has left me a little weary, a little tired, and a little raw.  Coming home, playing with the dogs, and curling up in bed was all I could bring myself to do...well, I did summon enough energy to peel foil off of Cadbury eggs before falling asleep - a girl has to survive.

It was looking up and then we got the news that our SBAC testing was moving up a MONTH, because they want to make sure we have time for Spring MAP testing.  Heaven forbid we don't have time to test them one more time!  Is it time to retire yet?  I have to remind myself that it gets like this every year at this time, and in the words of Taylor Swift, "Shake it off!"

On the bright side, my class is still wonderful.  Amidst all the chaos, they are still chugging along, getting better everyday.  They are showing so much growth in their writing and reading; it makes me proud to be their teacher. 

Last week, I agreed to take in three eighth grade honor students for my 6th period.  Their teacher was out for the day, and she farmed them out to make her giant class more manageable for the sub.  They were angels, and spent the period working on annotating an article and filling out an graphic organizer on the computers.  My kids were fascinated.  They were a little amazed that they were doing the same sort of thing with paper and pencil that the 8th graders were doing.  "Marking up the text" suddenly took on a whole new importance for them.  After a few phone calls and a quick conference, the girls came back this Friday to teach my kids how to annotate a reading passage using Word on the computer.
 Since we are a self-contained class with Read 180, they were used to the rotations and it went great!
With ten computers, and one eighth grade honor student for every two of my kids, it was a dream!
Since I have been juggling/struggling to keep up with the pacing guide for Read 180, the new Stretch Texts have not been used to their potential.  I simply took the Stretch Text for Workshop 7, and put it into Word.  At our site we have designated computer drives for students to access teacher created documents, so I dumped the Stretch Text into my folder.  The 8th graders did the rest!

Side note:  Yes, I know that this is not exactly how the Stretch Texts are meant to be used.  I conducted an act of "program fidelity" treason.  Good experienced teachers deviate and modify when necessary.  After teaching Read 180 for ten years, I know when, where, and what I can improve on related to "program fidelity."  Please don't get me wrong, I think Read 180 is a great program...but it is a PROGRAM and not a teacher.  So, I stretched the Stretch Text?  It needed to be done:).

In three fifteen minute rotations, they walked all the students through accessing the class folder, opening up the correct document, guided them through the first section of the Stretch Text, and showed them how to "annotate" or "mark it up" with their comments.  It was so easy!


I have to admit that I was a little surprised at how easy this was for them.  They simply opened up the document in Word.  By highlighting the text, and clicking on "New Comment" in the toolbar, the comment box popped open for them to write in.  Mistakes can be easily deleted with the "Delete" button.

For the first article, I am going to have them print out their copies to bring to small group.  That way, they can compare comments and actually read over what other students wrote.  In the future, the girls are going to come back and walk them through attaching a document to their student email.  This way, Stretch Texts can be worked on throughout the whole workshop.  They will be able to really preview the articles before they come to small group.

My 8th grade colleague is thrilled too!  She wants her students to really become leaders and this gives them a safe place to grow their leadership skills.  And the bonus for her is that she will have thirty students walking into her class already knowing how to annotate using Word.

Of course, the bonus in this for me was watching my kids interact with the 8th graders.  Some were shy and serious, all were eager to impress, and some of the boys...well, it is spring.

Hope this helped someone!  Here's to a good week!