Zinser Writing Program
The basis of the Zinser writing instruction is The 6+1 Traits of Writing by Ruth Culham. Each teacher has received training on how to adapt the six traits to their grade level. This consistent instruction helps facilitate a writing program that builds on the same skills each year. The consistent instruction is reflected in the annual gains on the MEAP writing assessment each year.
Zinser Elementary has long been recognized as a leader in mathematics education. Students at Zinser have traditionally scored extremely well on both national and state assessments. Prior to the 2001-2002 school year, the primary program for instruction was Continuous Progress Mathematics (CPM). In 2003, Zinser joined the district in implementing the Math Trailblazers program from Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. This program was developed and tested over a six year period at the University of Chicago. Math Trailblazers helps prepare students to know and apply basic math skills, solve problems using many strategies, be independent thinkers, reason skillfully, communicate solutions to problems, and to work alone or in groups to solve problems.
The advances in technology have created many essential math skills that may not have been as evident when parents and grandparents attended school. Math Trailblazers was designed to reflect these advances and allow our children to develop the math skills needed to be successful in the 21st century. More information about mathematics as Zinser School can be found at the Zinser office or directly at:
The University of Illinois at Chicago
TIMS Project Institute for Mathematics and Science Education
950 South Halsted Street, Room 2075 SEL
Chicago, IL 60607-7019
Reading and Writing Programs
Accelerated Reading is a research based reading program that encourages students to read books at their independent reading level. After reading a book, the student can take a comprehension test on the classroom computer. If the student passes the test, they earn points that can be used towards prizes. All Accelerated Reading books are marked with the grade level and number of points earned for passing the comprehension test. Data from schools using this program shows significantly higher reading scores for students.
We assess reading progress three times per year with the use of a computerized reading test called S.T.A.R. The S.T.A.R. test will also give students an independent reading level so they can choose books appropriate for their level.
One of the highest priorities for each student at Zinser Elementary is learning to read. It is our goal that students become strategic, motivated, and life-long readers. The 2001-2002 school year was one of transition in regards to our reading program. In the spring of 2001 the District Reading Committee proposed a new district wide literacy program to be implemented during the 2001-2002 school year. The Houghton/Mifflin literacy program, Legacy of Literacy is currently fully implemented in K-4 classrooms.
While the primary reading instruction takes place at the grade level of the students, students may work with teachers for specific skill instruction. For students experiencing reading difficulties, Zinser offers several intervention options. Title One services are available to qualifying students in all content areas. At first grade we are using a reading program called Reading Recovery. This one-on-one program has proven to be very successful around the world. In addition, we have special education services for students with learning disabilities.
The new materials, professional development, and dedicated teachers will all help us reach the Kenowa Hills district goal of having all children read at grade level by the end of second grade.
Zinser Elementary participates in the Young Authors' Program every spring. We have over 200 students entering books to compete in this contest. Winning students attend the Young Authors' Event held at a local college.
At this event, students have an opportunity to meet with famous authors. Each child receives a t-shirt from the conference for participating.
Our school has a Publishing Center which enables students to have their books published in a final form. Parents volunteer to type and bind the students' stories.
Teacher Preparation Programs
Zinser Process Writing Program
Kenowa Hills staff has spent many hours researching and gathering information to create a K-12 process writing program. Elements of the program come from research-based education.
Integrated Thematic Instruction
Zinser Elementary joins the other four elementary schools in Kenowa Hills district in embracing Integrated Thematic Instruction. Over the past three summers nearly every staff member has attended the Model Teaching Week which provides intense training in this brain based learning program. The two main goals of Integrated Thematic Instruction (ITI) are:
To create positive citizens, willing and able to engage in our democratic processes to improve life now and for future generations and
To help educators translate current brain research into practical strategies for the classroom and school wide.
Zinser Elementary School is in the beginning stages of the 3-5 year implementation process. We are excited about the potential benefits for all students and staff within our building and district.