Teachers and staff at Wallace Gregg strive to adhere to practices of effective schools by respecting diverse talents and learning styles, communicating high expectations, providing sufficient time on task, encouraging cooperation and active learning, and creating a safe environment conducive to learning. Teachers are becoming more skilled at designing an interdisciplinary curriculum to teach the required standards, meeting mastery levels for students, and using higher-level thinking skills.
Instructional Practices for Planning and Instruction
CAD (Curriculum Alignment Documents)
Florence One Schools' classroom teachers worked with content specialists to develop the Curriculum Alignment Documents for all grade levels and subject areas. This document contains a written curriculum for grade-level standards as recommended by the South Carolina State Department of Education. The CAD includes a prioritized Scope and Sequence Charts/Pacing Charts for each subject and K-12 course; and includes targeted standards with Introduce, Teach, and Review designations; Recommended resources beyond the textbook; suggested activities, websites, and assessment strategies. The CAD is used by teachers to guide instruction and plan teaching units.
Reading Recovery is a research-based early intervention literacy program for at-risk first graders. It serves as a safety net, enabling qualifying students to have access to the best possible learning opportunities for literacy acquisition. In addition to their regular classroom reading instruction, participating students receive daily individual lessons designed to promote accelerated progress for a period of up to twenty weeks, to catch up the average reading level of their classmates. Although the parts of the lessons are similar for all students, every lesson is unique in that it is built on the particular child’s strengths and behaviors. Through careful observation of the student’s actions during the lesson, immediate instructional decisions are made to meet the individual needs of each student to enable him to become a successful reader and writer. An additional outcome of Reading Recovery is that students needing a longer-term intervention for learning to read and write are identified early.
Effective Classroom Practices
Teachers use a variety of instructional groups to teach students. In the classroom, whole group and small group teaching is utilized as well as one-to-one conferencing in writing and Reading Renaissance. Instruction in addition to the classroom consists of one-on-one such as Reading Recovery and tutoring with paraprofessionals, Francis Marion University interns and volunteers, peer teaching, and parent volunteers. Examples of small group instruction include the Literacy Lab for first-grade students, Focus teachers for intermediate grades, Title One Paraprofessional and other paraprofessionals, ESOL, Occupational Therapy, and Speech/Language. Mainstreaming is also used with some students from self-contained LD classrooms and with all LD students for art, music, and physical education. Students qualifying for gifted and talented are bussed to another school for Project Reach one day a week by grade level.
Cooperative group learning enables students of all ability levels to work together to expand and stimulate their own learning as well as that of others in the group. Teachers assist the learning process by encouraging cooperation among students. This instructional practice is student-centered and builds interdependence between students and the teacher. Cooperative learning is implemented in different ways and used in a variety of subjects. In science, FOSS kits, STC kits, and experiments often utilize cooperative learning. It is also used in language arts, math and social studies lessons.
Hands-on teaching engages students in active learning and is essential for the kinesthetic learner. The use of FOSS kits and STC kits makes science more meaningful as it relates to real-life situations. Concrete visual aids used on the overhead in math help the visual learner. Manipulatives to support the curriculum are available to grade levels. In the first grade Literacy Lab, students use lots of manipulatives in the Making Words station.
Numerous standards can be taught, applied, and practiced using technology-enriched instruction. This involves more active student learning. Multi-media and other technology can support auditory skill development by incorporating visual presentations with sound and animation. This technology can permit teachers to do a better job of monitoring students’ progress and can allow students to monitor their own progress. Students have access to computers in the classroom, computer lab and media center. Science for grades 1 - 5 is utilized on the web at this time.
Discovery Education is an online digital library that includes videos and clips, photographic images, clip art, lesson plans, calendar, quizzes, and writing prompts from Discovery Education The content is correlated to academic standards. These are available through the Classlinks App.
Reading Renaissance is a computer-based progress-monitoring assessment and instructional tool for reading. It gives educators the information about student performance and progress needed to guide instruction and improve reading achievement. By combining Renaissance technology with professional development, support materials, consulting, and evaluation, it supports curriculum and teaching methods.
The teachers and staff of Wallace Gregg feel that exposing students to community workers will enlighten them to various jobs, expand their knowledge, and open a door to an employment field in the future. Students have the opportunity of hearing guest speakers scheduled every nine weeks. These speakers consist of lawyers, nurses, veterinarians, dentists, newspaper reporters, TV news anchors and weathermen, dental assistants, national guardsmen, firemen, policemen, farmers, loggers, professional hockey players, crime scene investigators, utility workers, Fossil Frank, authors, a wrestler, and others who take time to share with our students what their job consists of and answer numerous questions.
Grade Level Planning
Another important aspect of instructional practices at Wallace Gregg is working together as a grade level. Teachers have regularly scheduled grade level meetings during the week and have common planning times several times a week to plan for instruction.
All staff members are included in professional development activities. Outside consultants and experts are brought into the school to explain and demonstrate curriculum ideas. Professional development is also provided by teachers at Wallace Gregg by sharing information obtained from conferences and by demonstrating successful classroom practices.
School Environment and Community Support
PBIS: WHAT IS PBIS?
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based three-tiered framework to improve and integrate all of the data, systems, and practices affecting student outcomes every day. PBIS creates schools where all students succeed.
Tier 1 practices and systems establish a foundation of regular, proactive support while preventing unwanted behaviors. Schools provide these universal supports to all students, school-wide.
Tier 2 practices and systems support students who are at risk for developing more serious problem behaviors before those behaviors start. These supports help students develop the skills they need to benefit from core programs at the school.
At Tier 3, students receive more intensive, individualized support to improve their behavioral and academic outcomes. At this level, schools rely on formal assessments to determine a student’s need.
CHAMPS: What is CHAMPS?
CHAMPS is a system of expectations that works with any set of rules, rewards, or consequences that you are already implementing. It can even be used if your school has a specific classroom management program in place. For example, my school has the 3 Bs: Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Respectful. Those are common terms all teachers use. I still use those terms frequently, but I also use CHAMPS in my classroom.
CHAMPS is part of Randy Sprick’s Safe and Civil Schools and is a research-based program with over thirty years of classroom research.
The CHAMPS acronym stands for:
- Conversation: Can students talk to each other during this activity?
- Help: How do students get the teacher’s attention and their questions answered?
- Activity: What is the task/objective? What is the end product?
- Movement: Can students move about during this activity?
- Participation: How do students show they are fully participating? What does work behavior look/sound like?
- Success: When students meet CHAMPS expectations, they will be successful!
According to Safe and Civil Schools, CHAMPS strategies are easy to implement and will:
- Reduce classroom disruptions and office referrals
- Improve classroom climate
- Increase student on-task behavior
- Establish respectful and civil interactions
Wallace Gregg is a safe school and is prepared for emergencies. The school follows district procedures for emergency situations and has developed detailed procedures for safety issues at the school. Each classroom is equipped with a Safety Bookbag, containing student information and emergency supplies, and supplies for Shelter in Place procedures if they are needed. Staff members review emergency procedures several times throughout the year. The School Emergency Response Team is prepared to assist in emergencies. Walkie talkies are utilized by administrators, office and custodial staff throughout the day and classes use them at recess as well to ensure safety measures. A full-time nurse is housed at the school for the health and safety of our students and staff. The school requires visitors to check-in at the office.
In the past few years, Wallace Gregg has also been supported by several local businesses and churches. Other private members of the community have made numerous donations. In addition to monetary support, instructional support also comes from Francis Marion University. Many of their students donate their time to work with our students.