Our teachers have been focused on making math lessons the most effective and efficient use of their math block time. They have worked hard to make learning student centered. Classroom teachers have moved towards acting as a ‘guide’ during math instruction allowing students to explore, discover and discuss math concepts. This has been done through teachers participating in peer to peer observations of fellow teachers who have a strength in this area. They teach students how to ask deeper level questions where other students must explain their thinking. Teachers do this through creating and using resources that will serve as models for students who are learning how to do this. An example is ‘Math Talk Cards that are readily available in many classes for groups of students who get “stuck” when it comes to questioning or beginning discussions with their peers centered around a specific math skill. After repeated use, students have learned how to think of new and more challenging questions for their peers.
Mrs. Wight and Mrs. Minervini, our Reading Specialists, have been providing targeted instruction in writing to help teachers create lesson plans that help students become better writers. They focus on specific skills such as main idea, details, note taking, paragraph writing, opening and concluding sentences, story elements, plot lines, and character development. All of this happens within the frameworks of the three types of writing that we focus on here at HMS, narrative writing, argumentative writing and informational writing. We have seen students make tremendous strides in this area. One of the most beneficial trainings HMS staff has been able to attend in recent years is the Keys to Literacy training. The strategies learned in this training have given teachers and students the framework to create more thorough writing pieces and is actually applicable to all subject areas.