Welcome to a 4-part series on Pathway’s ESLRs. To start from the beginning, please see previous blog posts on ESLRs 1 and 2.
The third ESLR is as follows:
#3 A Pathway student is an effective communicator when speaking, listening, writing, and reading
Here at Pathway we strive to teach our students to be great communicators. However, much of the time children come through our doors having great difficulty in this area for one reason or another. I will unpack the four areas of communication by sharing some of the creative/helpful strategies we employ to help students grow in the area of communication.
We provide ample opportunity for students to speak to small groups and larger groups. Students share their gifts and hobbies during Talent Share, a recitation during Speech Meet, and dramatic lines during our annual Spring Musical. Eighth graders give speeches at graduation, and many students are invited to share their experience at Pathway to prospective parents during certain times of the year. Each class plans and gives a chapel to the school once during the year. Various reports are assigned within the classrooms that give students other opportunities to communicate through speaking. Students receive individual feedback and guidance throughout most of these experiences that have been mentioned above.
We believe that listening aids in comprehension, so much of our listening practice is related to the area of reading. We use audio books to allow students to hear what good readers sound like, and we employ questioning strategies to ensure students hear what is being said. We also support the understanding that young children need frequent breaks, so these are given to help support the best listening possible. Teachers ensure that students are listening by having them repeat back directions or key phrases. This also allows students to be an active part of lecture-type teaching.
Pathway is always striving to have the most effective writing programs in place to encourage and teach children to become more independent, confident writers. Writing class involves the use of Thinking Maps, a specific graphic organizer program that is used across all subject areas at Pathway. Students learn how to create powerful sentences and variety in their writing. We expose students to narrative, persuasive, expository, response to literature, and informational types of writing over the course of a Pathway education. Students learn how to brainstorm, write a rough draft, edit, and finally generate a final draft. As mentioned in the Speaking portion of this post, eighth graders write a speech to be given at their graduation in June. Pathway staff regularly sees students begin at Pathway, unable to write a few sentences, and exit, having the ability to compose pages of material!
Students are assessed individually,three times a year on fluency and comprehension. This gives our teachers the ability to have students reading books that are “just right” for them. Many other programs are employed for students who fall below grade level in either fluency or comprehension. Students read independently and practice comprehension methods on a daily basis. Twice a week students meet in groups with others at their level and read/discuss a book together. During this time students focus on different genres, a variety of literary components (climax, plot, characters, etc.), and oral reading. We have had many students say that they used to hate reading, but now they are beginning to enjoy it because it doesn’t feel as hard anymore.
Being able to communicate is a valued asset in today’s world. We are working hard to prepare our students to be superb communicators!