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)
In 2005, Florence School District One 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.
MAP (Measures of Academic Progress)
Measures of Academic Progress is a computerized adaptive assessment program. It is administered to students in grades 1 through 6 biannually. Generated reports provide information to improve teaching and learning according to individual student’s ability. Teachers use the information for instructional planning. MAP test results can be used to identify the skills and concepts individual students have learned, diagnose instructional needs, monitor academic growth over time, or make data-driven decisions at the classroom level.
Initiatives for First Grade Literacy
Successful early reading instruction is crucial to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn the necessary literacy skills. Quality classroom instruction is the core of literacy acquisition. It provides the foundation and first tier of instruction for all students, often in whole group settings. Some students need additional support in a smaller setting. The Literacy Lab provides this individual and small group assistance in reading and writing and addresses the five essential reading components of No Child Left Behind: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension. For the higher performing students, the Lab serves as an enrichment program providing more challenging materials and activities. For the remaining students, the Lab serves as a second level of instruction and intervention for literacy acquisition. This second tier of support has saved several students from becoming “at-risk” in learning to read and write.
The Literacy Lab serves all first grades, three days a week from mid-September to the end of April. Each class is divided into four flexible groups that could best accommodate the individual needs of each student. A Literacy Lab assistant teaches the highest students, a teaching assistant teaches the next highest students, the classroom teacher instructs the middle students, and the Reading Recovery teacher works with students identified as being “at-risk”.
Because learning to read is so complex and is interwoven with learning to write, the Lab is divided into four stations; 1) New Book, 2) Running Record/Familiar Reading/Response Journal, 3) Writing and 4) Making Words. The groups rotate daily from station to station. Each station provides students with assistance in various areas of learning to read. During the small group instruction in the New Book, Running Record/Familiar Reading/Response Journals, and Writing stations, students receive individual attention as they read books and write stories. Mini-lessons are provided on how to use reading and writing strategies. In the Making Words station, manipulative are used (magnetic letters, letter tiles, sound objects, white boards, gel pads, etc.) to help students learn about words and how words work.
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 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.
StreamlineSC is an online digital library provided by the state of South Carolina. It includes videos and clips, photographic images, clip art, lesson plans, calendar, quizzes, and writing prompts from Discovery Education and ETV and ITV productions. The content is correlated to the academic standards. These are available by password and user name by download both at home and at school.
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 students at Wallace-Gregg Elementary are exposed to a variety of cultural and instructional experiences through field trips. Classes plan field trips throughout the year. In the past, our students have visited the State Museum, The Francis Marion Planetarium, The Aquarium in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, The Florence Little Theatre, McLeod Farms, Ed Adventure, local grocery stores, The Florence Symphony and a host of other places.
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 each 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.
New Bloom’s Taxonomy
Florence District One is in the process of introducing the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy to all teachers in the district. The revised taxonomy is a tool for instructional designers and teachers. Eventually all state standards will be based on this taxonomy because it offers a common language to help guide the curriculum decisions.
School Environment and Community Support
Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports is a program for behavioral expectations throughout our school. It teaches behaviors and expectations for all school activities and recognizes students that are able to model these behaviors. We want to create an environment that is effective for meeting academic and social goals.
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.
After School Activities
Wallace Gregg offers After School Daycare for parents that work or attend school. The program is sponsored by a grant. The music teacher at Wallace Gregg sponsors Chorus, Band and Strings that meet before or after school throughout part of the school year. A Dance Team and Sports Club is also offered to students. A Good News Club is sponsored by local churches one day a week.