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  • Writer's pictureTrey Adams

Drop everything...

...and read. Also known as D.E.A.R. time, fourth grade teachers Mrs. Brandi Burnett P'26 and Mrs. Jenn Whitley P'22 dedicate significant class time daily to guided reading groups, interactive reading and visualization, and independent reading (DEAR time). Guided reading groups place students at comparable reading levels together for focused, small-group instruction. Interactive reading is the engagement of the whole group in questions before, during, and after reading. Combined with visualization, students are asked to think deeper about the narrative and how it might connect to their own lives. Reading instruction does not only include narratives. In his article on research-based reading instruction, educator and policy-maker Dr. Timothy Shanahan reported that significant class time should be dedicated to reading comprehension instruction, which should focus on both literature and expository texts (Shanahan, 2006).

Fourth grade is starting the year with Flat Stanley as a narrative text while also diving into the Virginia Scrapbook Project, a cross-disciplinary study with lots of practice in expository reading. "Students are learning to research, write informative pieces, edit, and revise work," shared Mrs. Whitley. "A few topics we've discussed so far are the five regions of Virginia, state symbols, colleges, natural wonders, the geography of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, and Daniel Boone. Students will learn to read and analyze primary sources." As students move from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn in the intermediate grades, connecting reading to their life and experience through project-based work excites and energizes readers, and creating opportunities for greater reading frequency improves student attitudes on reading (Donaldson, 2010).

  • "I am excited to work on my scrapbook because it allows me to learn a little more about a topic and to be creative in making the pages," shared Alice G. '31.

  • "I like learning anything about history and I like drawing and coloring," shared Noah F. '31.

  • "I am researching and writing about one of my favorite things to do, hunting in Virginia," shared Bronson E. '31.

"The Virginia Scrapbook Project is one of the Academy's many traditions," indicated Mrs. Whitley. "In the end, this is a nice keepsake for families, and I have student examples from the early 2000s and still have my son Jack's, too." Alumnus Jack Whitley '22 is a freshman at Virginia Tech. Students tend to keep and protect those pieces of their experience that blend learning with real-world connection.

The mission of Southampton Academy is to challenge and encourage each student to learn and grow through academic experiences that combine innovation and tradition with moral and spiritual values in a supportive family environment. The fourth grade is a fluid example of tradition and innovation in instruction, grounded in research-based best practices.

Finally, here are some items to consider:

  • Regarding community connection, please join us for the first faculty-parent-friend event of the year at the September Shindig on September 24. Click here to purchase your tickets.

  • Regarding after school activities, please complete a short survey to indicate future directions for our after-school programming in the arts, sports, and academics/enrichment.

  • Regarding career opportunities, the Academy is looking for great substitute teachers (click here) and has future openings in upper school. Click here for the VAIS info. page.

  • Regarding whole school, our annual all-school picture for faculty and students is Friday, September 16 on the front lawn. Wear your Raider blue!

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