How does a teacher support early readers to make connections between phonics instruction and opportunities to practice and apply new reading and language skills? By providing connected texts! ESCS Kindergarten teacher, Helen Schroeder, with SEF’s support, provided her students with engaging decodable books to, as Ms. Schroeder reports, “practice and build their decoding skills in the classroom.” Students loved the high-quality, fun-to-read books that they called “tapping books” and they allowed Ms. Schroeder to better differentiate her reading instruction. The result of using the grant-funded books in her class is that for students, the “connection is now so clear” between what students are learning in the Fundations curriculum and applying that knowledge to reading. One day at the end of Reading Workshop, one student looked at Ms Schroeder and declared, "I just LOVE tapping books!" It was a proud moment for the student, for the teacher, and a joy for the SEF Board to hear about. Ms. Schroeder has been able to share the new books with colleagues at her school, a “great opportunity to collaborate,” and she hopes to continue to grow her collection of decodable books.
The grant-funded magnetic puzzles in Matthew Yiu’s Pre-Kindergarten Capuano classroom helped to provide students with equitable and differentiated access points to the curriculum. Mr. Yiu reports, “All students were interested and able to learn letters, numbers, shapes, and write their names [with the puzzles].” The new classroom resource also helped students to work together, share, take turns and interact with the curriculum in a hands-on way. Mr. Yiu also reports that use of the puzzles in his classroom served as a powerful learning opportunity for both students and Mr. Yiu himself when in one instance, he witnessed two students in his classroom playing together for “a full 30 minutes,” engaging with the puzzles together. Mr. Yiu has shared with his colleagues the success of these puzzles in his classroom and will continue to advocate for more resources like these for his school.
World Languages Department Chair Dr. Lisa Machnik was awarded funds to support a multidisciplinary project as students explored the Arabic influences on Moroccan blue tiles and their history and place in the culture in France, Portugal, Spain and Italy during their world language classes. Both students and teachers benefited from the funding of this project. As a department, teachers and students got a deeper understanding of the Arabic influence on the cultures of the languages being taught in Somerville PS. Dr. Machnik reported that watching students engaged in the project was really special. In addition to that, World Language teachers were happy to relay that students were very engaged in creating the tiles and were proud of their beautiful work.