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    Academics

    English Language Learners - ELL

    The largest numbers of English language learners (ELL) in Seattle Public Schools speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Tagalog, and Somali as their native languages. 

    The goal of the ELL program is to educate all students to the highest standards regardless of their national origin, native language, or previous educational experiences. 

    General Music K-5

    Q:  What do Batman, Green Onions, Sakura, and The “A” Train all have in common?

    A:   They are all multi-part musical arrangements that students are learning to play together on steel pans, marimbas, drums, keyboards, and percussion.

    Our music program is somewhat unique.   We incorporate playing real arrangements on real instruments for all students.   This is unusual for a general music program.  We have a long-standing and highly productive relationship with our Artist-in-Residence, Jah Breeze.  

    We have four performing ensembles, with at least two more to come.

    Our broad goals reflect national and state standards:

    1. Sing alone and with others, using a varied repertoire of music
    2. Perform on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
    3. Improvise melodies, variations and accompaniments
    4. Compose and arrange music within specified guidelines
    5. Read and produce musical notation
    6. Listen to, analyze, and describe music
    7. Evaluate music and music performances
    8. Understand the relationship between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts
    9. Understand music in relation to history and culture
    Our broad goals reflect national and state standards:

    1. Sing alone and with others, using a varied repertoire of music
    2. Perform on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
    3. Improvise melodies, variations and accompaniments
    4. Compose and arrange music within specified guidelines
    5. Read and produce musical notation
    6. Listen to, analyze, and describe music
    7. Evaluate music and music performances
    8. Understand the relationship between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts
    9. Understand music in relation to history and culture

    From March 2008 Seattle Public Schools School Beat

    Students enter into music via a "folk" process:  listening, moving, singing, exposure to instruments, playing parts within an ensemble, sharing, exploring, improvising, and performing.  We proceed with a multi-cultural emphasis:  starting with African and Caribbean traditions, we incorporate other "world music" as we progress, especially American roots music:  folk, blues, jazz, R & B, and classical.

    Students start with singing, body percussion, hand percussion, and African drums as their primary "voices". They learn a beginning set of songs, and basic musical skills such as pulse, tempo, pattern, melody, dynamics, expression, ensemble cooperation, and performance. Steel pans and marimba are introduced early on to provide experience and skills in melody, voicing, lead playing,  back-up playing, "counterpoint", and basic informal notation.

    Within any given class, there is a range of skills and experiences that students bring.   Music instruction is necessarily “differentiated”.  There is always a part for each and every student to play. This is a philosophical linchpin of the program.  From there, skills grow in complexity, and students help and teach each other.  Students practice and learn during class time, during after school clubs, and many come in during their lunch times to work on material.

    To see us in action, visit http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=132461&title=music_overview.    If you would like to get involved with the music program, help small groups learn a song, or have fundraising ideas to share, please contact me at ejones@seattleschools.org

    Thanks, Mr. Jones

    Powerful Readers

    Powerful Readers, which is part of Powerful Schools, is a one-on-one tutoring program offered to K-2 students at South Shore.  Only four other schools in the South End have the Powerful Readers program, which provides one-on-one tutoring that would be beyond the financial reach of most families.  

    Teachers identify students who are reading below grade level, based on observation or standardized test scores.    Students then meet with a tutor for 30 minutes, four days a week, for 28 weeks.  The focus is on learning to decode words using a structured, phonics-based approach.   Each lesson ends with 10-15 minutes of reading.   Every 10 lessons, students are tested for mastery of letter sounds, sight word, decoding / segmenting and fluency.  After successfully passing, students earn a free book and are eligible for the next level of instruction.   Progress reports are given during parent-teacher conferences.  Books and activities are provided during school breaks to ensure students stay on track.  

    Bev DeCook, Lead Tutor, oversees three tutors and one volunteer.  Tutors are evaluated each month on lesson delivery, preparedness, behavior management and positive modeling.

    One of Bev’s favorite parts of the program is seeing kids make progress - seeing the light bulbs go on and suddenly, they are reading sentences.   Kindergarten students go into 1st grade with more confidence and with strategies they can use to be successful.  

    The program targets younger students, so that intervention occurs before reading struggles manifest into self-esteem and behavioral issues.   It is especially successful for students that struggle to learn in a bigger classroom environment.   Most students that attend Powerful Readers regularly are reading at grade level by the end of the year.   Powerful Readers also hosts an annual Literacy Night each year to get parents involved in reading with their students.

    Would you like to help?   Powerful Readers relies on private donations to sustain programs, such as the one at our school.   You can make a cash donation, donate new or gently used books (appropriate for grades K-2) or volunteer to read with students, especially those on the program’s waiting list.   Contact Bev DeCook at 252-7577 or bidecook@seattleschools.org

    Powerful Schools is a non-profit organization committed to supporting and strengthening public elementary schools.   This year, they are serving more than 3,400 students in Seattle.   To learn more, visit www.powerfulschools.org


    Literacy Coaches

    In Fall 2009, South Shore School added two new dedicated Literacy Coaches who work with teachers, providing valuable on-site professional development and support services. South Shore is unique in having its own Literacy Coaches. Within the Seattle school district, approximately 10 schools have district-funded literacy coaches on site. However, budget cuts continue to reduce the number of district-funded positions.   So, five Seattle schools, including ours, have elected to spend part of their budget for their own on-site literacy coaches.

    Literacy

    Coaches provide effective professional development on a daily basis. In the past, most professional development was accomplished by attending conferences. Back in the classroom, teachers often struggled to gather lesson materials and to apply what they learned on their own. Literacy Coaches help teachers develop reading and writing lesson plans, identify specific goals for student instruction and practice effective delivery of lessons. In addition, they help gather materials to support lesson plans. Historically, teachers have been on their own to gather reference materials, handouts, and book sets to support their plans.Literacy Coaches help gather materials, allowing teachers to focus on teaching.

    Julia Schumacher coaches PreK through 3rd grade teachers, and Bruce Patt coaches 4th through 7th grade teachers.  Both have teaching backgrounds.   Julia has been teaching since 1990 in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades, and has also served as a Mentor Teacher supporting first year teachers.   She previously worked as a Literacy Coach for 3 years at Beacon Hill Elementary.

    Bruce Patt taught English at Foster High School, and then worked on the Small Schools Project.  The 2008 election inspired him to leave educational consulting and return to teaching, because he sensed it would be a monumental time for education. He most recently worked as a Literacy Coach at Meany Middle School.

    Bruce and Julia both appreciate the opportunity to grow in their careers without following the traditional career path into administration.  And they get a great deal of satisfaction from supporting fellow teachers and helping to bring high-quality instruction to South Shore students.   

    Despite their teaching backgrounds, both admit that teaching adults requires a different skill set. They use a variety of coaching methods, tailoring the approach to each teacher’s needs.   For example, they sometimes deliver a lesson in a classroom, while the teacher observes.   Other times, they observe the teacher and provide feedback.   Or, they may debrief with an individual teacher who has recently delivered a new lesson, discussing questions, what went well, what didn’t.   They sometimes meet with all the teachers from a grade level to discuss an upcoming unit.   While formulating a lesson plan, coaches bring data on building-wide trends across grades and across time, while teachers bring an intense knowledge of the classroom.   Together, they formulate an effective plan which is both tailored to an individual classroom and will achieve measurable results.   We are very fortunate to have Bruce and Julia at our school!