Edison reading students encourage each other in 'Success Zone'
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 30, 2012
12/30/12 at 8:04 AM
How did teachers at Edison Preparatory School get their tech-savvy students so excited about a classroom bulletin board?
They let them make it their own.
Students in reading intervention classes in the middle and high school at Edison use "Success Zone" walls to congratulate or encourage one another on their progress. Not only does it create opportunities for academic discussion, it also promotes positive social interactions in an age group where bullying is all too common.
"I don't like it. I love it!" said sixth-grader Iliana Haro. "We call it the Facebook wall. That is the best Facebook I ever had because it gives me positive comments and my friends write to me more than actual Facebook."
These reading intervention classes aren't for the lowest-performing students, but for a marginal 160 or so students who have the greatest potential to show gains with additional assistance in a small class environment.
Melissa Hort, Edison's middle school reading teacher, came up with the idea as a way to keep her students motivated to succeed.
"They are accountable and in charge of their own work," Hort said, pointing to the homework grade charts each student keeps in their notebook and the weekly class agendas posted in class. "If they're in control and know what to do and how to do it, they just keep pulling to learn."
The name of the bulletin boards - "Success Zone" - comes from the Read 180 curriculum Edison uses in its reading intervention classes. When students complete a section, they must show mastery in an assessment in the "Success Zone" stage of a computer software program.
In the middle school class, high-scoring students get their assignments posted on the bulletin board and their classmates write messages of praise and encouragement on the pages or on blank sections of the wall next to the pages.
On a recent afternoon, everything from "sweet," "great job," "boss," "beast" and "You rock, Jaxon" appeared on various places on the Success Zone wall. One student encouraged another to strive even harder by scribbling, "Asia got 98 percent. Let's go!"
In the high school class, each student has their own rectangle of real estate on the bulletin board in which their teachers place stickers and buttons and classmates write praise.
"It is absolutely imperative to the success of a student to feel a sense of accomplishment often. High achievers are always being recognized. I have found that the gap between the high-achieving and struggling reader is a sense of self-esteem," said Larry Cagle, the high school reading teacher.
Cagle's high school students have come to care so much about the Success Zone that they notice if he lets things slide.
"This is like boot camp for reading," Cagle said. "They really do say, 'Do I get my sticker?' because they don't want the stigma of not achieving."
Meako Mayfield, 12, said the reading intervention class has helped him improve his reading skills but has also taught him important organization skills as a student. He said he tries to give the kind of feedback to his classmates on the Success Zone wall that has been most helpful to him.
"When you read the comments, it makes you feel good about yourself. One boy in our class doesn't really like it because he doesn't always make 100s.
"I write 'Keep trying,' because sometimes that happens to me, but you have to believe that next time you can."
Original Print Headline: Building walls of support
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
Aaron Morales, a sixth-grader at Edison Preparatory School in Tulsa, looks at schoolwork posted on a classroom wall on Dec. 18. An Edison teacher created the posting area to let students comment on each others' work, similar to a live version of social networking website Facebook. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Melissa Kay Hort, a reading teacher at Edison Preparatory School in Tulsa, hands out finished classwork. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Students leave messages on a "success zone" wall at Edison Preparatory School on Dec. 18. A middle school teacher created a wall where students can write encouragement on others' schoolwork. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World