Kristin Burke is a lead teacher at Urban Montessori Charter School in Oakland. She wrote this first person account of how she used SEEDS of Learning strategies to dramatically improve kindergarten readiness outcomes for her students. SEEDS of Learning is a professional development program that provides teachers with proven strategies and tools and in-classroom support through coaches and tutors. The Kenneth Rainin Foundation leads the funding and implementation of this professional development program in Oakland.
We’re inspired by teachers like Kristin who are helping their children achieve dramatic, double-digit gains in meeting benchmark targets for kindergarten readiness and grade level reading. Kristin’s story was originally published by Great School Voices.
I look up at the clock. It is Friday afternoon at 2:40 pm at Urban Montessori Charter School. As I stand and observe small bodies moving with voices exploding in chatter, the tiredness in my body reminds me it’s the last Friday with our students for the 2016-17 school year.
I watch as 30 5- and 6-year-olds in our primary classroom (transitional kindergarten and kindergarten) tackle math puzzles and games, watercolor, and create with recycled materials.
I walk over to a group of students who had asked to use small whiteboards minutes earlier, and, to my surprise, I am absorbed immediately. As they sit together at a table with dry erase markers in their hands, one child holds up her white board with words she wrote, looks at the child next to her, and asks confidently, “Which ones rhyme?”
Another child proudly displays his white board, also covered with words, and asks, “Which ones alliterate?” My body vibrates with new energy as I bend over to look closely at the words they have written, exhilarated that, not only are they practicing rhyming and alliteration, but they are even trying to challenge their peers as they include in the same list words that both alliterate and rhyme. Then, as if continuing the conversation, the students at the table to the right of them, engaged in play dough, burst out singing,
“Letters, Letters, Letters have names, what is the name of this letter?”
And it’s working. My students have seen huge gains over the course of the year, and by the end of the year, over 90% of them have met their literacy targets (data is included at the end).