180° Turnaround

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					                                                                                                                December 2010 • VOLUME 5, NUMBER 2




 Inside this issue
Accelerated Math                          2
Individualized approach helps change
girls’ negative attitudes toward math

Certification                             3
Ginny Snowden’s story, Part II

NEO 2                                     3
Technology helps time-crunched Chicago
teacher

In My Library                             4
My AR journey has been like a long
distance family road trip: an adventure

What Kids Are Reading                     4
2011 edition of kids’ reading trends report
released; download a copy today               Principal James Dent believes that AR gives kids the drive to read, resulting in their ongoing exposure to language, grammar
                                              and vocabulary they wouldn’t have any other way. “I have an open invitation to borrow books from me, and the kids pour in
Accelerated Reader                        5   here,” Dent said, pictured above.

Texas high school teachers smile when
their books are stolen
                                              180° Turnaround
What Educators Say                        6
                                              Once the lowest performing in the district, a CA school
Overheard recently on the AR for
Educators Page on Facebook                    does a turnaround; leaps 168 API points in 3 years EDITOR‘S
Successful Reader                         7
                                                    What does it take to go from being the                      ity piece,” Dent said. “AR is a very cost-
Safe environment, taste of success help       lowest performing elementary school in the                        effective way to get kids excited to read,
Oklahoma eighth graders pass state test       district to the second highest in just three                      and reading’s such a foundation for posi-
                                              years?                                                            tive self-image and overall performance at
Professional Development                  7
                                                    “It’s not just one silver bullet—it’s a lot                 school, now and down the road.”
                                              of them,” said James Dent, principal of El-                              Teaching high school in the 1990s
                                              iot Elementary, which jumped an incredible                        gave Dent a first-hand look at how difficult
                                              168 points in California’s Academic Perfor-                       it is to “catch up” students who are behind
   Did You Know?                              mance Index (API) from 2007 to 2010. Now
                                              36 points above the state-required 800, El-
                                                                                                                in reading once they reach upper grades.
                                                                                                                Later, as an elementary school teacher,
   Are you in a Race to the Top               iot Elementary and its students, 76% Eng-                         assistant principal, and principal, he saw
                                              lish language learners and 98% on free and                        what he suspected—that a big difference
      state? If so, we’ve got                 reduced lunch, are just points shy of anoth-                      can be made at that level. Dent and the
      resources to help you!                  er school in one of the district’s wealthiest                     teachers at Eliot are keeping this as their
                                              neighborhoods.                                                    focus with great results.
     Find out how the Renaissance Z                 One of the silver bullets was                                      “In 2007, 65 fourth and fifth graders
     Program aligns to the four core          implementing Accelerated Reader, which                            qualified for pull-out reading support. We
         education reform areas.              Dent brought on board immediately upon                            couldn’t do fourth-grade reading because
                                              arriving at Eliot in 2007.                                        we had to do corrective reading,” Dent
                   Visit                            “I couldn’t imagine teaching a class                        said, noting that Eliot Elementary uses
    www.renlearn.com/economicrecovery         without Accelerated Reader because it’s                           STAR Reading as one of three points of
                                              such a great motivator and accountabil-                           data to determine if students need inten-
                                                                                                                                                       Continued on page 5.
EXTRAORDINARY Educators


Individualized approach helps change negative attitudes toward math
Girl Power! program aims to help young female students become confident and engaged in math early


      Four years ago, Jackie Matthews of          on the board and
Life Christian in Tacoma, Washington, had         sharing how they
an advanced math class of fifth graders.          got their answers.
Although several female students qualified,       But a big first step
only one agreed to be in the class.               in Girl Power! is
      “That made me sad,” Matthews said.          changing nega-
“Statistically speaking, we know that young       tive attitudes to-
girls in the U.S. tend to lose interest in math   ward math.
and science as they enter adolescence,                  “I have to
and I wanted to break that trend—at least         tell the girls to
at our school.”                                   stop saying, ‘I’m
      Matthews, who works exclusively with        bad at math’ and
advanced and at-risk students, began us-          start saying, ‘I am
ing Accelerated Math five years ago. For all      good at math, and
of Matthews’ students, it is a valuable diag-     math is fun!’” Mat-
nostic and progress monitoring tool, as well      thews said, shar-
as a critical practice component allowing         ing the story of
mastery of specific learning objectives.          one fourth-grade
                                                                        “Many colleges now want to see four years of high school math—preferably through
      Accelerated Math’s individualized les-      girl from last year
                                                                        calculus. If a girl opts out of challenging math in seventh grade, she won’t be on track to
sons also let Matthews have a room full of        who loathed math take calculus in high school,” Matthews, pictured above, said. She uses Accelerated Math
students—some working at or below grade           so much she was in her Girl Power! program to help raise her students’ confidence in math.
level, and some working two years ahead—          having stomach-
and still be able to offer each one an appro-     aches and felt like a failure.
priately challenging lesson.                            The STAR Math Diagnostic showed                            Focusing on the
      “I have this quote on my computer, ‘Ev-     she was half a year behind grade level, in-
ery child has the right to learn something        formation that Matthews used to give les-                        math facts: practice
new every single day,’” Matthews said.            sons she knew the girl could do easily in                        makes perfect
“So that is my challenge—to make sure             order to breed immediate success and pro-
every student is moving ahead in math             vide some “traction.” Then, lots of praise                           An additional way that Matthews
at a pace that works for them.”                   and emails went home about her achieve-                          helps students master skills is with
      For Matthews, that meant taking extra       ments.                                                           MathFacts in a Flash, which combines
steps to specifically encourage Life Chris-             “Her confidence began to grow and                          practice, intervention, and progress
tian’s young female students in math and          her attitude in class showed it,” Matthews                       monitoring of fundamental math skills
science. She established Girl Power!, a           said. “She began offering to help other stu-                     into easy-to-use tools on the computer.
program that provides a “safe” place for          dents in the class, ‘Oh, I know how to do                            All of her students use MathFacts
girls to learn and where Matthews also uses       that! Do you want me to show you?’”                              in a Flash for ten minutes, five days
Accelerated Math to help boost their confi-             By February, she was one of 80% of                         a week at home and Matthews says
dence.                                            the students in Girl Power! who actively                         she’s seen great results. She did a
      About 10 girls in each of grades 3-5 at     chose to participate in “Math Mania” last                        self-made study last year by asking
Life Christian participate in the Girl Power!     year. This 12-week school-wide competi-                          eight advanced-math students and
program. She starts class with a quote from       tion requires students to master 36 Accel-                       four at-risk students to use MathFacts
a famous woman so the girls can learn from        erated Math objectives—a goal that Mat-                          in a Flash at home for four weeks.
example, and talks constantly of her expec-       thews calls challenging as she sees her                              “Every student’s score improved
tations that the girls will go to college and     students once a week. Since they’re only                         at least six months!” Matthews said.
                                                                                                                   “Two advanced students in third grade
outlines the necessary steps to that goal.        competing against themselves, high-risk
                                                                                                                   went from an initial grade equivalent
      “Many colleges now want to see four         students have an equal chance to shine.
                                                                                                                   (GE) of 4.4 to 6.4 four weeks later. One
years of high school math—preferably                  “She was coming in during her recess,
                                                                                                                   of my female third graders was testing
through calculus—and, if a girl opts out          at lunch, and after school to get extra les-
                                                                                                                   about six months behind and reached
of challenging math in seventh grade, she         sons so she could win…now that’s motiva-
                                                                                                                   a 4.0 GE by the end of the study.” 
won’t be on track to take calculus in high        tion!” Matthews said. “This young lady not
school,” Matthews said. “They don’t realize       only earned her trophy—she was one of the
how a decision about what math class to           top achievers in terms of number of objec-
take in seventh grade can adversely affect        tives mastered and ended the school year
their college options.”                           testing one grade level ahead in math
      Their preparation includes lots of ac-      and loving it.” 
tive participation, working out problems

                                                                            2
                                                                                                                             EXTRAORDINARY Educators



                       Renaissance Certification: My Story                                                                   Technology helps
                       Guest Columnist                                                                                       time-crunched
                       Ginny Snowden, Library Media Specialist
                       Reed Intermediate School, Newtown, Connecticut                                                        Chicago teacher

                                      Part 2 of 2             well. Success is contagious, and by the end                          As she talks about her diverse,
                                                              of June I had three more reading teachers                      lively sixth graders, Nashwa Me-
                                  We started our              enrolled to try for Certification next year.                   kky sounds like a dedicated middle
                              AR program by                          There are always challenges. Last                       school teacher—deeply interested in
                              training our edu-               year’s financial crisis prompted the town                      her students, committed to their learn-
                              cational assistants             finance committee to ask for a $2.5 million                    ing, and excited about education.
                              (EAs),        special           cut from our school budget. My two part-                             But sometimes, she will admit, in
                              education teach-                time library assistants’ jobs were on the                      her classroom at John W. Garvy School
                              ers and reading                 line. Once again, I went to the AR data, this                  in Chicago, it comes down to time.
                              specialists, focus-             time to link the success of our independent                    It’s about efficiency…and technology
                              ing on the idea                 reading practice program with a 10% in-                        helps.
                              that every student              crease in the number of our students meet-                           After
could be successful. While many teachers                      ing the state mastery test reading goals.                      detailing
were willing to give it a try, it was our EAs,                The Board of Education was impressed,                          the wide-
who work one-on-one with kids with learn-                     and I got to keep my assistants, without                       ranging
ing disabilities, who truly felt empowered                    whom I couldn’t keep the library functional,                   tasks she
and became our heroes in the challenge to                     much less successfully implement the AR                        faces each
bring success to struggling readers.                          program.                                                       day teach-
      At faculty                                                                                        Here           at    ing social
meetings, to my                                                                                    Reed, AR is               studies
delighted bewil-                                                                                   gaining a repu-           and       lan-
derment, more                                                                                      tation as a read-         guage arts,
and more regu-                                                                                     ing        program        she      talks
lar classroom                                                                                      that          works,      about the
teachers, some                                                                                     which was why,            day things
of whom had                                                                                        when technol-             changed.
                                                                                                                                             Nashwa Mekky helps a student
been less than                                                                                     ogy funds be-                   “When with a lesson using the NEO 2.
enthusiastic the                                                                                   came available            the cart of
previous year,                                                                                     at the beginning          NEO 2s was rolled into my classroom,
started sharing                                                                                    of the summer, I          I saw them as a tool to help me really
success       sto-                                                                                 was asked by              become a more effective and efficient
ries, strategies                                                                                    the school dis-          teacher.”
                     Reed Intermediate School teachers, above, wear shades to promote their
for implementa- “cool” achievement of Model Reading Classroom certification. Seventeen              trict if I’d like              Provided through PTA funding,
tion, monitoring teachers at Reed certified for the first time last school year.                    to use some of           the addition of the NEO 2s had a dra-
progress and                                                                                        that money to            matic effect on Mekky’s classroom.
how they found time in our overburdened                       upgrade to AR Enterprise on the Real-Time                      Classroom management has im-
schedule for independent reading.                             platform. Would I? You bet I would!                            proved, she says, meaning more time
      Last school year, with more of our                             The truth is, the road to Certification                 for instruction.
teachers enthusiastically implementing                        was not a straight one, at least not for me.                         “The students are simply more
AR Best Practices, we sought to achieve                       I had a lot to learn, and I’m still learning.                  engaged. They enjoy working on the
Certification. To be a Model Coordina-                        There are still a few hold-outs among our                      NEO 2s, and some who you would
tor, I needed 10% of our reading classes                      faculty, if not to the program itself, to imple-               never expect it from are eager to take
to qualify for Model Classroom. The cri-                      mentation with fidelity to the Best Practices,                 them home to do work.”
teria for Model Classroom included hav-                       which produce results. My job is not done                            Students don’t have to rewrite
ing less than 10% of students at risk and                     until every child meets with success, so                       papers to edit them, which improves
more than 90% of students scoring above                       I continue to work. The time invested in                       their writing by giving them more time
90% on quizzes, which in turn meant a                         making the AR program work is worth it.                        to work on problem areas and focus
concerted effort to really focus on the                       Providing quality literature and a real op-                    on them. She can also provide imme-
few kids still falling between the cracks.                    portunity for every child to read and suc-                     diate feedback as she checks assess-
      To do this, I sat for a few minutes with                ceed is my passion. AR has helped me do                        ments—even during the lesson—to
each teacher to review their Diagnostic                       just that, beyond what I could ever have                       gauge student understanding as a
Report and offer assistance for students at                   imagined.                                                     class or individually.
risk. Our year ended celebrating not only                                                                                          “I also can see the results of a
the Library Certification, but the certifica-                 If you missed Part 1 of Ms. Snowden’s story, see the October
tion of 17 Model Reading Classrooms as                        2010 issue at www.renlearn.com/Profdevel/success.                                        Continued on page 6.


                                                                                            3
EXTRAORDINARY Educators



                                                                                                         What Are Kids Reading?
                             In My                                                                       Wimpy Kid, Lightning
                                                                                                         Thief edge out Twilight
                             Library                                                                           Movies     based     on     popular
                                                                                                         children’s books perpetuate the pop-
                         Guest Columnist                                                                 ularity of the titles they’re inspired
                         Stephanie Bryson, Librarian                                                     by, heavily influencing what children
                         McWillie Elementary School, Jackson, Mississippi                                choose to read. This finding, and many
                                                                                                         other unique insights, is found in What
       At least twice yearly, my family and I          dered a bound copy for every teacher.             Kids Are Reading: The Book Read-
 make a trek to visit family in Pennsylvania.                 There’s no better pit crew than the        ing Habits of Students in American
 Driving 18 hours and 1,987 miles with sev-            technical help at Renaissance: person-            Schools, 2011 Edition.
 en people is nothing if not an adventure.             to-person phone calls, on-demand ses-                   Jeff Kinney’s The Diary of a Wimpy
 Though the way is well traveled, there are            sions, quick sessions, webinars. It’s like        Kid and Rick Riordan’s The Lightning
 usually obstacles: forgotten items, road              having AR OnStar 24/7! When we pur-               Thief, released as movies earlier this
 construction detours, and additional bath-            chased Accelerated Reader Enterprise,             year, have pushed the titles in Stephe-
 room stops for those who neglected to go              many of these services were part of the           nie Meyer’s Twilight series out of top
 at the last exit.                                     package and helped me conduct profes-             spots for some grades. Three of the
       My journey with Accelerated Reader              sional development for my colleagues.             four titles in the Twilight series have
 began eight years ago. You might even                        Another amazing feature of Acceler-        also been re-
 say I was abducted! Our                                                   ated Reader on Real-          leased as mov-
 then-principal walked into                                                Time is the Resource          ies.
 the library with the news                                                 Link. Like having a GPS             The report
 that I would be getting a                                                 device in a vehicle, this     also found that
 new computer to better                                                    link took me almost any-      ‘contemporary
 access our new reading                                                    where I needed to go.         classic’ titles,
 program software.                                                         Quicker than playing          such as S.E.
       Initially overwhelmed,                                              stop-light tag, I could       Hinton’s      The
 eventually my principal’s                                                 click, print, and collate a   Outsiders and
 enthusiastic explanation                                                  binder full of information    Lois      Lowry’s
 won me over. She had                                                      to navigate the best ways     The Giver have also overtaken last
 taught at a school with de-                                               to implement AR and           year’s list-dominating Twilight series.
 mographics very similar                                                   teach others to do so.              The report is based on the AR
 to others within our urban                                                      I have even taken       reading data for more than 6.2 million
 school district, yet this                                                 a few road trips with our     students in grades 1-12, from nearly
 school continually out-                                                   current principal to ad-      20,000 schools nationwide who read
 scored the others on state                                                ministrative sessions on      more than 192 million books during the
 reading tests. The only When Bryson first started using AR, she was collecting data from AR.            2009-2010 school year. This informa-
                                overwhelmed. Today, she’s “geeked out”
 differing factor from our about AR and enjoys guiding her school on       If you’ve ever been to a      tion-packed report includes lists of the
 school was that school’s its journey to reading success.                  car show where collec-        Top 40 Books Read:
 use of AR. So I began                                                     tors are eager to expose         •	 Overall and by gender, grades
 plotting a route to implement Accelerated             what’s under the hood, this was like that.              1–12;
 Reader at McWillie.                                   Principals and other administrative ‘gear            •	 By struggling readers—including
       If you haven’t visited www.renlearn.            heads’ gathered to talk shop: I got so                  both “all books” and those labeled
 com, make it a point to do so. Particularly           “geeked out” that I returned to school and              by publishers as low- and high-
 follow the path to the Renaissance Train-             had the teachers enter individual profile               achieving;
 ing Center. It’s like stopping at a roadside          information so that we could begin to ag-            •	 By students in the top 10% of read-
 oasis: so much from which to choose!                  gregate the data.                                       ing achievement.
 Click the blue button for Professional De-                   Are we there yet? Like my family
 velopment, or the orange for Renaissance              trips, we’ve met with some obstacles, too:             To download a copy of the report,
 Certification. The green button takes you             budget deficits, technical difficulties, and      or to order a printed copy, visit
 to Educator’s Symposiums, and the yel-                disinterest. Still, I enjoy giving colleagues     www.renlearn.com/whatkidsarereading. 
 low provides Teacher Tips. My favorite                directions concerning AR Best Practices.
 is the red Resource Center. From there,               Planning individual road maps to reading
 download Getting Results with Acceler-                success for our students is why we con-
 ated Reader. There’s no better road map               tinue on this journey. Hopefully, I’ll never
 to success! I found it so helpful that I or-          once have to threaten to stop the car! 



                                                                            4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             EXTRAORDINARY Educators


180° Turnaround: Once the lowest performing, a CA school
does a turnaround; leaps 168 API points in 3 years                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Texas H.S. teachers
Continued from page 1.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       smile when their
sive intervention. “In 2010, we now only             ing basis. Dent commented that schools                                                                                                                                                                                                  books are stolen
have 8 to 10 fourth and fifth graders who            new to AR would realize within a week how
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   If you ask Lee Ann White or Mi-
qualify, many of whom transferred here in            many kids claim to read a book, but actual-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             chelle Guerra the highlight of their
second and third grade. We’ve cleaned up             ly fail to understand it and need extra help.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             day, they just might surprise you and
the reading problem, and now we’re ready                    “Kids tend to grab books that are too
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             tell you it’s when they see a student
for the next big step—vocabulary expan-              hard or too easy, so the most benefit from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             walking off with one of their books.
sion.”                                               reading growth comes from our teachers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The pair teaches struggling read-
     Dent believes that AR gives kids the            knowing exactly where their students
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ers at R.L. Paschal High School in Fort
drive to read, resulting in their ongoing            are at, what they like to read and how
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Worth, Texas, a big, largely Hispanic
exposure to lan-                                                                   long it takes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             campus with an equally big reputa-
guage, grammar                                                                     them,”       Dent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             tion for academic success—but also
and vocabulary                                                                     said, noting that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             a sizable population of readers who
they       wouldn’t                                                                students     take
have any other                                                                     AR quizzes in
way.     Literature                                                                the classroom
has much richer                                                                    and that charts
language        than                                                               on the walls dis-
common          day-                                                               play every stu-
to-day      discus-                                                                dent’s monthly
sions. The prac-                                                                   goals and prog-
tice students get                                                                  ress at a glance.
while      meeting                                                                  Dent also em-
their Accelerated                                                                  phasizes the im-
Reader goals is                                                                    portance at Eliot
particularly help-                                                                 of investing in                                                                                                                                                                                           The enthusiastic high school readers of Guerra and
ful at Eliot, since students tend to arrive at       large libraries right in the classroom, where                                                                                                                                                                                           White’s classes share their favorite books.
the school with relatively lower language            teachers can make sure that what students
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             are unlikely to continue their educa-
experience than others in the district.              pull from the shelves is a good and suc-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             tion without some support.
     “Helping our ELLs is a matter of get-           cessful fit. But students are still encour-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Using Accelerated Reader, a few
ting them enough reading practice and                aged to grab books anytime from another
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             incentives, a little peer pressure, and
exposing them to as much language and                giant bookshelf—the one in Dent’s office.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             a variety of appealing books, the two
context as possible,” Dent said. “It takes                  “I have an open invitation to bor-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             coax some of the schools most chal-
somewhere between 16-20 uses of a word               row books from me, and the kids pour in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             lenging students into reading for 20
before it’s internalized, so the students who        here,” Dent said. “I fill it with series books
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             minutes each day and enjoying it.
read the most have the most to gain in all           because they read one and they’re hooked
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   “When students who haven’t
academic areas.”                                     on the rest. I also like to have two copies of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             wanted to read steal one of my books,
     Equally important to the practice com-          titles if possible so I can encourage kids to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             I consider it a positive thing,” said
ponent of Accelerated Reader at Eliot El-            partner up with someone else—every activ-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             White, who teaches students that
ementary is the ability to test their reading        ity is always more fun if you can share it with
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             have failed the reading portion of the
comprehension and retention on an ongo-              friends.” 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Texas state test. “I had a student one
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             time walk out of class with a library
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             book under his coat. He said he didn’t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             want to ruin his ‘rep’.”
     Never Miss an Issue!                                                                                                                                                                                                            October 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             October 2010 • VOLUME
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • VOLUME


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    October 2010 • VOLUME 5, NUMBER
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           5, NUMBER
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     5, NUMBER 1     1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   “One way I know they are enjoy-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ing reading is they begin to check out
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                                                                                               Inside this
                                                                                                           issue
                                                                                         Accelerate



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             books from the library,” said Guerra.
                                                                                                          d Reader
                                                                                   Inside this issue
                                                                                        Key ingred
                                                                                                      ient                                         2
                                                                                        growth: becom to amazing readin
                                                                                                            ing                        g



     Educators newsletter—created to celebrate the
                                                                                Accelerated Readerdata literate
                                                                       Inside ingredient
                                                                                Certificatio
                                                                           Key this issue    n                                           2
                                                                                       Ginny Snowd to amazing reading
                                                                               growth: becoming en’s                                             3



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             “The other way I know is when they
                                                                    Accelerated Reader dataCertification story,literate
                                                                                      Accelerate                          2               Part I
                                                                               Certification
                                                                    Key ingredient to amazing d Math
                                                                                     Students give reading                              3



     success of America’s outstanding educators
                                                                    growth: Ginny Snowden’s up
                                                                               becoming data literate                                           3
                                                                                     practice mathCertification story, Part I
                                                                                                            time with
                                                                                                                         friends to
                                                                                                       skills
                                                                   Certification ted Math
                                                                              Accelera
                                                                                    In My Class                          3
                                                                                                                                       3



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             steal them. I have to replace the most
                                                                              Students Certification story,
                                                                   Ginny Snowden’s give up room
                                                                                   How a former     time with friends
                                                                                                                    Part I
                                                                              practice math skills                          to               4
                                                                   Accelerated Mathteacher found ly ‘disenchanted’ math




     using Renaissance Learning products.
                                                                                                      a                  3
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                                                                                                       on the
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ago was identified  of recognize                          State
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Department was threatened six a “failing
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                                                                           Did You Know
                                                                Professional Development new
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                                                                                             ed Math                  7                    U.S. Department of Education Blue
                                                                                                                                          with a                   this
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                                                                                                                                                                          Alabama “Dispe ago was identified by the Alabama State
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       just
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hall’s fourth 2004, as 47%
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       declining




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             down and read each day—and enthu-
                                                                                 There are two ries!                                     ored nationally                                                  school and was threatened s Met andof George
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  test scores. In 2004, with state declining
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         grader
                                                                                                                                with a 2009-2010 this year with a “Dispelling
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                                                                    Did You Know?
                                                                         Accelerated Math
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                                                                                                                                         the Myth” Award
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                                                                                                                                                                      Hallfrom                            over after years of inadequate and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hall’s fourth graders
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “When I came
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  only 47% of George
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               or Exceed
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ed
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                                                                          There are such as budget
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                                                                                                                                               This particular     -American
                                                                                                                               the eligible for free from the and 98%
                                                                                                                                         Myth” Award award recognizes George
                                                                                                                                                                                                         tHall’sing at  “When Iof the to or Exceeded
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     fourth graders Met grader
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     came fifth
                                                                                         management,                                                                                                                       a second-grade George Hall          s were read-
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                                                                                                                                        Hall
                                                                                                                               Trust. that low-in , where 99%lunch, for             of the student
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                initial
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                                                                          Literacy Libraries!        for ‘real world’                 achieve at African-American and
                                                                                                                                        This particular award and minority 98%                                  Reints, aI came to George Hall in 2004,read-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                ing at second-gra report,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                “When




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             siastically take AR quizzes to record
                                                                          math, on topics such                                         eligible for high levelsrecognizes George are the majority Title I fifth detor ” said Elizabeth
                                                                                                                                                                                            students            initial STARthe Facilita
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   level, based on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            of Readinggraders were read- our
                                                                                     Find
                                                                         credit, debt out more at
                                                                                                     as budgeting,                     Elementary,free2009-2when taught for prov-
                                                                                                                               Hall levels. For the and99% of the
                                                                                                                                                          where reduced lunch, to high ing Specialist. “Now almost                                     and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               report,” Techno
                                                                      www.renlearn management, and                                     ing that
                                                                                                                                     amazing low-income and minority
                                                                                                                               body are African-American and             010 school    student                 at a second-grade level, of said Elizabeth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Reints, Title
                                                                                                                                                                                                               ers are readin I Facilitatorbased  all our fifth logy
                                                                                        .com/am/cont            more.                               99%                             98%year, an initial STAR Reading or above and on our




     Visit www.renlearn.com/Profdevel/success to subscribe today!
                                                                   Help students prepare for ‘realentlibraworld’                      achieve at
                                                                                                                                    fourth free highof George Hall’s
                                                                                                                                                               levels
                                                                                                                                                                                            students
                                                                                                                                                                                             are               Specialist. g at
                                                                                                                                                                                                              are even “Now report,” gradeElizabeth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Technology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        grad-
                                                                     math, on topics such as budgeting, ries                                                                                                                 up to almost said level— grad-
                                                                                                                               eligible forgraders have when taught to high
                                                                                                                                      levels. For and reduced lunch, forthird and Reints, are reading level 8. all of our fifthsome
                                                                                                                                                        the          passed               prov-                ers Title I Facilitator and Technology
                                                                                      Find out more at                        inging and math 2009-2010 both the read-
                                                                                                                                     that low-income and minority students an    school year,                 become helping or above grade
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    at            The challen
                                                                    credit, debt management, and more.                               amazing 99% sections
                                                                                                                                  Reading and                                                                  are even up to them of our level—some
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Specialist. “Now almost all find                           ge has
                                                                       www.renlearn.com/am/                                                                   of George the
                                                                                                                                                         levels matics of Hall’s third and ers both level-appropriate 8. The fifth grad- are
                                                                                                                              achieve at high Mathewhen taught Alabam
                                                                                                                                     fourth graders have                               to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       level           books that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          challenge has
                                                                                                    contentlibraries                                                         Test—w high a
                                                                                                                                                                      passed both the                         become helping
                                                                                                                                                                                                             are reading
                                                                                                                                                                                                             priate—butat or above grade conten and
                                                                                                                              levels. For the 2009-2010 school ell above
                                                                                                                                    ing and math                                      year, an  read- are both up to that’sthem findlevel—some are      bookst-appro
                                                                                                                             amazing 99% of George Hall’s the Alabama have!” level-appropriategreat content-ap -
                                                                                                                                                               sections                                       even               level 8. The challenge that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          a
                                                                                Find out more at                                    Reading and Mathemati of third and                                        priate—but them
                                                                                                                                                                                                        become helping that’s find books
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 and challenge pro-has
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          to
                                                                 www.renlearn.com/am/contentlibraries                        fourth graders have passed cs Test—well above both the read-                                                  a great challengethat are
                                                                                                                                                                                                              have!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                        both level-appropriate and content-appro- to
                                                                                                                             ing and math sections of the
                                                                                                                                                                                    Alabama             priate—but that’s a great Continued on page
                                                                                                                             Reading and Mathematics Test—well                                                                                      challenge to 5.
                                                                                                                                                                                        above           have!”                                       Continued on



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Continued on page 6.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    page 5.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Continued on page 5.




                                                                                                                                                         5
EXTRAORDINARY Educators


                                                                                        Technology helps time-

 What Educators Say                                                                     crunched Chicago teacher
                                                                                        Continued from page 3.
 Overheard recently on the AR Page on Facebook
                                                                                        spelling or social studies test immediately
                                                                                        for each student,” Mekky said. “I can post
 Not yet a fan? Here’s an excerpt of what you’ve missed:                                the results right away, and a printout is sent
                                                                                        home or a parent can log on to see results.”
 Kate posted:                                                                                Mekky says 94 percent of sixth grad-
 I have a few students who are strong readers with picture books, but are               ers in 2010 met Illinois State Achievement
 struggling with chapter books. I have them writing chapter summaries and               Test standards, up nearly 15 percentage
 working with a partner but they are still struggling. Any thoughts?                    points from the same group the previous
     Stephanie replied:                                                                 year when they were fifth graders.
     I think the best thing here is to model chapter book reading via a book club.           “We have struggled to get our scores
     Choose a book that all can read—short chapters, simple plot—and read it            over the top and meet standards,” Mekky
     together, stopping to discuss each chapter. Also, don’t underestimate the          said. “The NEO 2 is a great tool to help us
     importance of reading aloud. I still read aloud to my fifth and sixth grade stu-   do that.”
     dents. Lastly, be patient with second grade students. Like a novice runner or           But, she said, she also knows it’s help-
     athlete, at this age, they are working on both technique and building stamina.     ing because in her classroom, there is more
     Technique is primary; stamina will follow.                                         time—for learning. 
     Pamela replied:
     Take a look at some easier chapter books like the Nate the Great books. Even
     if they are a little lower reading level. The longer books take more cognitive     Texas H.S. teachers smile
     processing. Doing some literature circles also helps. You can also let students
     test on books you read to them. They just check ‘Read To’ when taking the
                                                                                        when their books are stolen
     test.                                                                              Continued from page 5.


 Accelerated Reader for Educators posted:                                               their progress. By the end of the year, the
 If you had to pick one AR “must-do” tip to share with others, what would               two have seen huge gains in the students’
 your tip be?                                                                           reading ability.
     Trish replied:                                                                           “Most of my students come into my
     Get all the teachers on board with the program. Parents with multiple kids will    class reading well below grade level,”
     receive the program better if it is school wide.                                   White said. “Once they move up to a fifth-
                                                                                        or sixth-grade level, they are usually able to
     April replied:
                                                                                        pass the statewide assessment. The extra
     Make sure the students have time allotted throughout the week to take AR
                                                                                        reading practice helps them pass.”
     tests.
                                                                                              “My students have never had the free-
     Jennifer replied:                                                                  dom to choose books they find interesting
     If you read a book to or with a child that is above their IRL, be sure that you    or have been given the time or encourage-
     also read the test to them!                                                        ment to read,” Guerra said. “Every year I
     Frances replied:                                                                   have several students who will tell me
     Set points goal and percent correct goal every nine weeks.                         they finished their first book in my class.
                                                                                        These kids learn to enjoy reading for the
                                                                                        first time in their lives.”
                                                                                              The two say that book chats, book trail-
                                                                                        ers, reviews by other students, and a good,
                                                                                        relevant story line are key in what students
  Accelerated Math                                                                      choose to read.
  is now on Facebook!                                                                         White believes the interest in reading
                                                                                        fostered in her classroom continues long
  You can now join fellow educators at the                                              after the students leave her class.
  official Accelerated Math for Educators                                                     “This week I had a former student
  page on Facebook! Get in touch with a                                                 come by to say hello before her free pe-
  network of educators from around the                                                  riod,” White said. “After my students began
  country to exchange ideas.                                                            reading, I noticed that she picked a book
                                                                                        up off the shelf and sat down and began
                                                                                        reading herself. She just smiled at me.” 
   To join, visit www.facebook.com/amforeducators



                                                                     6
                                                                                                                                                               EXTRAORDINARY Educators


Safe environment, taste of success help OK 8th graders pass state test
Teacher: “Book Club and Successful Reader seem to be the spark that has set a fire in my kids”
      English teacher Natalee Fuller at the                                                                                                                year,” Fuller said. “They really liked the
Owasso Eighth Grade Center in Oklahoma                                                                                                                     atmosphere. It was an Instructional Book
realizes that it’s just “not cool” to love read-                                                                                                           Club and not a remediation class, so it
ing in eighth grade. So when she overhears                                                                                                                 wasn’t a place where they felt like they were
her reading intervention students tell each                                                                                                                below level, but rather where they could be
other about titles they’re reading indepen-                                                                                                                successful. For some students, it was a ma-
dently, she keeps casual and pretends not                                                                                                                  jor first.”
to hear—but she feels elated inside.                                                                                                                              In Book Club, the students listen to au-
      “It’s very difficult to get 13- and                                                                                                                  dio books while tracking the words. They
14-year-olds excited about reading, espe-                                                                                                                  have Student Guides to use during instruc-
cially if they struggle with it,” Fuller said.                                                                                                             tion and discussions, which Fuller said are
“Book Club and Successful Reader seem                                                                                                                      appealing because they’re colorful without
to be the spark that has set a fire in my                                                                                                                  being elementary, and they’re designed in
                                                                            “Book Club and Successful Reader seem to be the spark that
kids—one that I hope will continue for the                                                                                                                 a way that prevents students from being
                                                                            has set a fire in my kids—one that I hope will continue for the
rest of their lives!”                                                       rest of their lives!”                                                          overwhelmed.
      Fuller’s Book Club is a reading inter-                                                                                                                      “They’re not covered with black and
vention class designed around Successful                                     year with Successful Reader.                                                  white words all over the pages, and they
Reader, a program that incorporates read-                                          Every student in Book Club improved                                     don’t throw all the literary terms at the kids
aloud audio books, book guides and dis-                                      their scores on the eighth-grade state read-                                  at once,” Fuller said. “Students can focus
cussions, and skills instruction and appli-                                  ing test, with one student jumping drastical-                                 on a couple of strategies at a time, which
cation in an informal, inviting atmosphere.                                  ly from “limited knowledge” to “advanced”                                     gives them an opportunity to master a
      All of Fuller’s Book Club students were                                in just one year. Another student, who had                                    concept before moving on to a new one.”
referred there because they did not pass                                     been reading on a second-grade level, pro-                                           Although students were initially timid
their seventh-grade state reading test.                                      gressed from “unsatisfactory” to “satisfac-                                   about speaking up in Book Club last year,
Owasso Eighth Grade Center, a building                                       tory” on his state test.                                                      Fuller said that by the end of the first book,
comprised only of eighth graders, started                                                                                                                  everyone was chiming in. She started the
offering Successful Reader via Fuller’s                                                                                                                    discussions, and then they would take the
Book Club last year in an effort to catch
                                                                              “[Book Club] wasn’t a place                                                  reins and run with the conversation.
kids who seemed to be slipping through                                        where they felt like they were                                                      “It was awesome,” smiled Fuller. “Over
the cracks.                                                                   below level, but rather where                                                the course of the year, they really built their
      At first, these students were not exact-                                 they could be successful. ”                                                 confidence. It’s amazing how kids grow
ly thrilled about having to give up an elec-                                                                                                               and learn when they’re put in a safe envi-
tive class to attend Book Club. But Fuller                                        “I was so proud of the kids because                                      ronment and given the opportunity to feel
said they bought into the program quickly,                                   they’d come so far over the course of the                                     some success!” 
and the results were remarkable in their first

     Regional Professional Development Seminars
     For a full listing of events, or for more information, call (800) 338-4204, ext. 3909, or visit www.renlearn.com/profdevel/pd.

     edUcaTors’ syMPosiUMs on
     acceleraTing learning                                                      Kentucky                                                                    Oklahoma
                                                                                Louisville—Accelerated Math 3/2                                             Moore—NEO 2 Essentials 1/20
     Anaheim, California February 17-19, 2011
                                                                                Louisville—Accelerated Reader 3/3                                           Oklahoma City—AR Enterprise 2/23
                                                                                                                                                            Oklahoma City—AR for Librarians 2/24
                                                                                Louisiana
     The Power of PracTice: Using acceleraTed                                                                                                               Oklahoma City—Accelerated Math 2/22
                                                                                Baton Rouge—Accelerated Reader 2/8
     reader or acceleraTed MaTh effecTively                                     Baton Rouge—Accelerated Math 2/9                                            Tennessee
     Alabama                                                                                                                                                Memphis—Accelerated Reader 2/16
                                                                                Missouri
     Fultondale—Accelerated Math 2/1                                                                                                                        Memphis—AR for Librarians 2/17
                                                                                Cape Girardeau—Accelerated Reader 2/11
     Fultondale—Accelerated Reader 2/2                                                                                                                      Texas
                                                                                Pennsylvania
     Florida                                                                                                                                                McAllen—Accelerated Reader 1/12
                                                                                Hummelstown—Accelerated Math 2/8
     Jacksonville—Accelerated Reader 1/25                                       Hummelstown—Accelerated Reader 2/9


AR, Accelerated Math, Accelerated Reader, AR BookFinder, English in a Flash, NEO, NEO1, NEO 2, MathFacts in a Flash, Renaissance, Renaissance Home Connect, Renaissance Learning, Renaissance Learning logo, Renaissance
Place, STAR Early Literacy, STAR Math, STAR Reading, Successful Reader, Text2Speech, and TOPS are trademarks of Renaissance Learning, Inc., and its subsidiaries, registered, common law, or pending registration in the United
States and other countries.


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