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Impact II: Under the Sea

HOW IT WORKS
Under the Sea is a thematic English language arts program that incorporates science and social studies into a study of sea life. It teaches and enhances various reading strategies of the balanced literacy method. These strategies include read-aloud and guided, shared, and independent reading. The students read about many forms of sea life from different parts of the world and further their ability to research a topic. Some resources are lower level because some students are still developing their English language skills. Guided reading is essential in this case because the teacher can work with small groups and concentrate on a particular reading strategy, as well as working individually and with a whole class. The key is modeling reading strategies and having students practice in small groups or on their own. The plethora of reading material makes this possible and fosters a healthy learning environment. The program begins with an appropriate read-aloud—The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister—for motivation. A KWL Chart is then created to see what students know and want to know. The teacher selects material from books and magazines to begin reading strategies. 

After he/she models a reading strategy with the class, students practice in small groups and/or individually. There are also visits to the New York Aquarium and the Museum of Natural History to further their learning on sea life and give them an authentic experience with what they are learning about. The students can also sketch what they are viewing. For a final project, students do their own research on their sea animal of choice, and work on note taking, topic sentences, paragraphing. The students meet with me four times a week for 45-minute periods in my classroom, and when they are ready to implement their research skills, three students at a time go to the computer room if they need to look for more information on the Internet. 

THE STUDENTS
This program was first implemented last year with six different classes ranging from grades 6- 8. It can be adapted for appropriate for earlier grades, depending on the level of reading materials used.

THE STAFF
Amy Schlamkowitz has been a teacher at M.S. 131 for two years, and has taught reading and English language arts classes. She received her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Dowling College and her Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of Tampa. She currently teaches the sixth grade.

WHAT YOU NEED
The resources needed include computers with Internet access, books, magazines, posters, diagrams, maps, and various art supplies. Videos and computer software programs such as Microsoft Encarta are also necessary for the enhancement of this unit. You can also contact various organizations to donate pamphlets and brochures for shared reading.

OVERALL VALUE
Under the Sea contains abundant creative, innovative, and effective aspects. It effectively assists in the improvement of student reading, writing, and researching abilities.

CURRICULUM AREAS
Language Arts
Science
Social Studies
Technology

GRADES
Grade
4-8

MORE INFORMATION

Amy Schlamkowitz
Dr. Sun Yat Sen
M.S. 131
100 Hester Street
New York, NY 10002
Phone: (212) 219-1204
Fax: (212) 925-6386
Arhino@optonline.net
Principal
 Alice Young

IMPACT II 
Catalog 2002-2003
(pdf file: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

 

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