The Charles Taylor Elementary School is on Morton Street in Dorchester, serving almost 600 students in grades K0-5. On the day I visited, all the kindergarten classes had gone apple-picking!

Lydia Coppin is helping her fourth and fifth graders with special needs understand division by using square colored tiles to divide numbers into equal rows/piles. In Yasmine Haley‘s fifth grade class, students are reading a math play she’d created that includes division problems. In the process, they have to explain what to do with each remainder based on the context.

Gym teacher Wayne Lloyd introduces a cooperative game to his students in a ground floor classroom. Della Larsen and Raushanah Muhammad, STEM specialists new to the school this year, have brought exciting hands-on activities into classrooms: e.g. fifth graders building paper towers, and fourth grade students designing and programming vehicles to move along a curved path.

Many classes focus on developing literacy skills throughout the morning. Lisa Spagnuolo‘s fourth graders are reading Love That Dog, and taking notes for a text-based discussion of the chapter. In Sherley Lane‘s SEI class, students are singing along to a poem they’re reading! Second grade students in Nannette Ashe‘s class are reading and taking notes on a National Geographic article about a Maasai man who made a difference for his people by building schools. Paraprofessional Jaime Griffin gives a first grade boy a “high five” for doing a great job with his Fundations word assignment.

Third grade SEI teachers Eleanor Auerbach and Angela Nicolas lead guided reading groups using the REACH curriculum, while Ellen Lefebvre‘s third grade students are doing independent reading. She likes the Taylor’s new focus on acknowledging and celebrating students’ cultural heritage throughout the year. On a bulletin board outside her class is a map of the world and pictures of each student with a statement about being proud of where their family is from.

What good ideas do you and your colleagues have to share? Please invite me to visit!

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Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.