Small Victories

01 September 2006

Last September, a fifth grade teacher in the district contacted me to say, "Help!" The previous school year had been her first back in a regular classroom after being an elementary PE teacher for several years. Standards and testing had passed her by...and only three of her students (all of them identified as gifted) had passed the science WASL. She wanted better for her kids.

I knew nothing about working with fifth graders (a year later I don't know much more), but decided to jump in and see what we could do. We did a bit of "Bubbleology," some work with expository writing, and a few other strategies...and then we waited for the WASL results.

At first glance, things looked good. As a school, the grade 5 science scores increased by 8 points. This is a statistically significant gain and represents a nearly 50% increase in the number of kids who met the standard. But the teacher I worked with was not the only fifth grade teacher in the school.

The teacher called me today to give me the skinny on how her kids did. This year, she had nine students meet the standard, and three more within five points of doing so. Out of the nine, only one was identified as gifted. In other words, her work toward focusing her instruction made a real difference with real kids. This was incredibly exciting for her and I couldn't be more pleased with her success.

We're scheduled a celebration in a couple of weeks. I am anxious to toast this small victory.

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