Norman Elementary's new *STAR* Teacher is...
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 21 years; 3 at Morley-Stanwood Junior/Senior High School and 18 here at Norman Elementary. I started out as a school psychologist with the MOISD for 6 years, but my heart was in teaching.
Favorite MemoryA couple of years ago my class teamed up with professional filmmakers to inspire writing for a reason. Together we made a movie about bullying. The whole experience was amazing in so many ways. I will never forget our “premiere” in the cafeteria. Over 70 friends and family members filled the room to watch the movie and celebrate the accomplishment. The looks of pure joy and pride were priceless.
Thinking about funny memories brought back many laughs, but one in particular. Out of nowhere, one student innocently asked, “Ms Svegel, do you ever have dreams where you come to school naked?”
A very effective strategy that I have used is Singapore Math’s bar modeling approach to solving story problems. It is a structured way of teaching students to think through the steps using bar models—an intermediate step between concrete and abstract thinking.
Special education for students with learning disabilities is a lot like physical therapy for reading—many interventions focus on repeated, small skills. This is intensive, hard work and can only be done for so long during a reading period. Another strategy to build word recognition is enhancing teacher-read novels through combining 3 best practices: retelling, rereading, and guided oral feedback.
After I read a chapter from a high interest novel, students retell it while I type their words. We reread together to edit for content. Then students reread with guided oral feedback from a “talking computer”. Words are highlighted as they hear them. This way they have guided oral reading—on demand. I dubbed this the Hybrid Language Experience (HLE) method, and have been using it for the last 5 years. Data from running reading records show that most upper elementary students accurately read retellings that are 1-2 years above reading level. They are engaged as they get guided oral feedback and also improve fluency. Student success was so impressive that I wrote this up for the Michigan Reading Journal, where it appeared as a featured article in the Summer, 2012 volume.
Hopefully other teachers and students will find this to be a useful tool as well.
Guided oral reading with Word Talk, which our technology director has installed on many computers
There’s always more than one reading strategy to share, so… students improve fluency through repeated readings. We reread phonics stories in an activity called Beat the Clock. Below is a link telling how it is done and a photo of students using this strategy.
(Beat the Clock Video by Robbie & her students)
Advice for New Teachers
· Listen to your students and take cues from them. Build on their interests. Doing this will both inspire and force you to be creative and think outside the box to meet their needs.
· Find the positive and build on it.
· What looks like “lazy” may in fact be hiding feelings of discouragement, confusion or being overwhelmed. Be a careful observer to uncover what is driving that behavior in order to find the best way to help a child.
· A wise social worker once told me, “When you like them the least, they need you the most.” This has helped me many times when I am reaching my limit in handling a difficult child.
Congratulations on being published in the Michigan Reading Journal- VERY impressive and quite an honor!
Another thing to be VERY proud of is your Bullying video-that video was awesome. Your students did such a great job and obviously they had a great teacher guiding them.
One more thing that I need to make note of...Your funniest memory--I would have loved to see your face!
Thanks for sharing your students, memories and advice.