News Staff Report
Teachers who work with students in Escambia County Middle School’s ASTEM Afterschool Program have made writing a major focal point of the reading instruction given after regular school hours.
That focus led to two recent projects — one designed to stimulate natural responses from the students to a particular situation, the other to entertain their fellow students.
In the first project, ASTEM after-school students wrote cards to wounded soldiers in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (formerly Walter Reed Hospital).
Melissa Daniel, a special education teacher who is also lead teacher for the ASTEM program, said family and friends in the area of the Washington, D.C. medical center are being counted upon to hand-deliver the cards to the hospital’s Red Cross representatives, who will then pass them on to the military infirmary’s patients.
“Part of teaching students is to share situations with our students and give them opportunities to naturally respond,” Daniel said. “This will hopefully bring a little Christmas cheer.”
The ECMS educator said students worked on the cards, which contain personal messages, when their classroom assignments were completed. And, she added, they were fully aware that they were being graded on their individual efforts.
“This has been a fun, on-going activity, allowing the students to have a constructive assessment to complete when all other work is done,” she said. “Each card was checked for grammar as this was a class assignment. Writing has been a major focus in reading instruction this year, so finding fun and creative ways to write has been our task.”
Daniel added that she and her fellow after-school teachers also came up with another way to make writing creative and fun.
“As the first semester ends, Mr. Tyler Parker, Mrs. Charlotte Lucas and I have worked with the students in writing one-act plays that they have performed for their peers,” she said. “Finding ways to make reading come alive for students often means letting them have ‘the words’.”