In August of this year , Storm Lake Middle School reading and resource teachers and the principal began participating in a Federal and State program entitled E2T2 - Enhancing Education Through Technology - aimed at improving reading achievement for the middle school students. Aligned with the new No Child Left Behind requirements, the purpose is to improve the reading scores of struggling readers through a strong professional development program administered jointly by AEA's 4, 8 and 12. The participating teachers will spend a minimum of 40 hours a year learning scientific-based reading strategies that have been approved by the Iowa Department of Education. There are 30 other middle schools participating this year and 30 more to join the initiative next year and the year after. To participate, our school agreed to take part in the activities for three years and to implement specific reading materials and strategies. Iowa State University has been contracted by the Department of Education to monitor how much time teachers spend in implementing strategies and how effective they are in improving students' reading scores. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills will be the tool used to measure the degree of improvement.
The technologies selected are those that either support teachers or students in their learning. One of the technologies SLMS received was a video conferencing unit in which the E2T2 program reading consultants can communicate directly with the staff, demonstrate strategies, and monitor implementation. The staff is also encouraged to work with other teachers throughout Northwest Iowa through this innovative technology. One of the more interesting uses of technology has been in learning how to use the Iowa AEA Online databases. Students and teachers can use the databases at school, at home, or at the library. One database, called EBSCO, provides a large collection of student and teacher magazines and journals. Student articles have lexile levels so students can select materials at their own reading levels or teachers can provide students with articles that help them support them in learning new concepts in any class.
SLMS teachers report that it is already clear that if we are to improve our reading scores we must provide more time for students to read material at their own reading level, motivate students to read both at home and at school, and use specific strategies to help them comprehend what they read.
Teachers who are participating in the program are Michelle Olesen, Julie Miller, Ronda Steenblock, Maryann Miller, Jaymie Bral, Deb Netten, Shalley Kappenman, Sherry Pooler, Marsha Ingram, Chris Anderson, and Allison Emery.