Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5
Engaging With Literature

About This Video Library

Lesson Builder

Hints for Site Leaders
Video Titles:

1. Signposts

2. Voices in the Conversation

3. Starting Out

4. Responding
to Literature

5. Sharing the Text

6. Building Community

7. Book Buddies

8. Finding
Common Ground

9. Discussion

About This Video Clip »
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9. Discussion Strategies

Classroom Snapshot

School: The Odyssey School
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
No. of Students in School: 125
Teacher: Barry Hoonan
Grade: 5th and 6th Grade Cluster
Subject: Language Arts
No. of Students in the Classroom: 31

The Odyssey School is an alternative public school on Bainbridge Island, eight miles from Seattle by ferry. It is one of four elementary schools serving this community of 20,000. When it opened, it had 75 students in grades one through six, organized into multigrade groupings known as clusters. The school has grown to 125 students with the addition of a 7/8 cluster. Class size at Odyssey is on a par with that at other island elementaries. Students are looped, staying with the same instructor for two years. Although approximately 80 percent of parents commute to Seattle, the school represents a wide range of incomes and includes artisans and local farmers as well as stockbrokers and lawyers. Families must agree to volunteer between five and 10 hours a month at the school before they may enroll their child. With twice as many applications as available spots, the school has a lengthy waiting list and is currently evaluating whether it needs to undertake further expansion — and if so, how to achieve that growth while maintaining the current sense of community.

Odyssey is located in a spacious old elementary library building and is designed to have the nurturing feel of a one-room schoolhouse. Students call teachers by their first names. The elementary grades spend part of each morning together, and they share computers and other resources as needed. Each elementary cluster has one teacher who is responsible for all instruction. Within such a small environment, parents are vital resources, sharing their skills and expertise in the classroom. For instance, since Barry Hoonan's expertise lies primarily in language arts, he recruits family members who are strong in math and science to help teach advanced concepts to his cluster. Teachers of grades 1-6 coordinate a three-year cycle of instruction together. Although the state mandates that children must know certain concepts by certain grade levels, it has been supportive of Odyssey's alternative approach to education.

Like all public school students in Washington, children at Odyssey must take the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) in grades four, seven, and 10. But for Mr. Hoonan, assessment is far more than a measure of what students have accomplished; it is also a tool to help them grow. Mr. Hoonan keeps a daily journal on the progress of individual students and targets five or six students a day for individual assistance. He has students maintain a portfolio of their work, and actively involves them in establishing the criteria on which they will be evaluated. In addition, he asks parents to conduct formal interviews with their children at various points in the year, using questions designed to show students the progression of their thinking over time.

In choosing this text for his students, Mr. Hoonan considered a number of factors including accessibility, level of interest, and quality. Although Stuck in Neutral is Trueman's first book, it has won several awards and is generating a great deal of positive energy among teen readers.


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