When you embark on a Journey there is always a destination, a goal - something you hope to take away from the experience. We are now a few months into our new language arts program entitled Journeys and we want to take this opportunity to reflect with you on some of our experiences and share our goals for the future.
A key component of each Journeys' unit is The Big Idea that connects with a weekly Essential Question. The Big Idea in relation to our teaching is that we are committed to meet individual students' needs and raise their achievement. The Essential Question is, how do we go about effectively moving each child forward in their learning?
The immediate benefit of using one comprehensive program for kindergarten through fifth grade is that it provides a common language and understanding between the teachers and administration at every grade level. This collaboration has been intensified with Journeys. The program itself provides a wealth of differentiated material for teachers to use in their efforts to support each individual student.
Journeys not only provides a common language and focus for the teachers, but does the same for our students. As they progress through each grade they will already be familiar with the language and materials of the program. Journeys includes materials for each grade that are aligned with the format of the fourth grade ELA exam. Each year builds upon the next and allows students to enhance what they have learned from previous years to a new, deeper level.
As you peek into the classrooms you will see that each room has a Focus Wall. There is a new Focus Wall for each weekly lesson and it provides a quick reference for students, teachers and visitors as to what will be covered that week. It includes the selections that will be read, The Big Idea for the unit and the Essential Question for the lesson. There is a target skill and strategy for comprehension, along with specific skills for decoding and fluency. The Focus Wall lists the spelling words and target vocabulary. Specific grammar and writing skills are included on the Focus Wall and are an important component of Journeys. The lessons take place during the daily literacy block that is comprised of a whole class lesson, along with small group instruction and independent work time.
Journeys is a rich program that focuses on every aspect of reading and comprehension that is essential for our students to be successful in the future. There is no question that the most important influences in a student's day are their teachers. Journeys is an amazing resource for our teachers to have as they work to provide our students with a strong love, understanding and appreciation of reading.
The commitment and energy of the teachers and students at Magen David Yeshivah cannot be matched. Our goal is to develop our students into fluent, critical, thoughtful readers. The enthusiasm and willingness of our teachers and students to work hard is what will make Journeys a success.
Magen David Elementary School
Judaic Studies Associate Principal,
Rabbi David Sultan
Assistant Principal General Studies
Dr. Joshua Wise