POTTSTOWN PA – Flash cards, and a microwave oven: think of them as the old and the new, the ying and yang, the Heckle and Jeckle, or – for sports buffs among us – the ball and bat of home-based education tools this year at Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, 1329 Buchert Rd., Pottstown PA.
That, at least, is what Principal Ruth Fisher has in mind.
Lower Pottsgrove is among the Pottsgrove School District schools that are having difficulty in meeting federal “No Child Left Behind” Act performance standards. Fisher, in a recent e-mail, did not directly acknowledge that concern but said she hopes all students’ proficiency in reading and math can grow by at least 10 percent this year.
That’s where the microwave and flash cards come in, she proposed.
Lower Pottsgrove’s teachers and staff look to accomplish two goals during the 2012-2013 school year, Fisher explained. They want to strengthen reading fluency among all students, with specific attention on comprehension; and to boost students’ instant recall of math facts.
In reading, Fisher explained, students must read quickly, pronounce words accurately, and understand what they’ve covered. In math, she added, a mastery of basic facts (remember multiplication tables? That’s an oversimplification, but it’ll do) “increases accurate calculations when solving” word, story or reading problems, she noted.
All microwaves have timers. How else would we know we successfully nuked a hot dog in 30 seconds? Fisher suggested using the microwave timer, or something similar, to time a child’s one-minute read. “Be certain your child can read the selection (not miss more than five words per page), set the timer and then count the words read accurately within one minute. The next day, change the reading selection for the one-minute read and chart your child’s daily growth.”
Repetition counts, of course. Kids can quickly get good at this with practice. There’s an added benefit, too. Because microwave ovens should never be operated empty, having a cup of water inside it while the timer runs means parents can brew tea as their young reader excels.
Flash cards, of course, have been around forever. They may have lost popularity as a teaching tool in some circles, but they’re a proven commodity. “Get those math flash cards ready!,” Fisher’s e-mail urged parents. “Again, know the facts to be mastered for your child’s grade level. Work on only a few each night for a one-minute drill.”
Fisher intends to offer incentives to students who, based on before-and-after benchmarks conducted by the staff in the fall and spring, have raised their reading and math abilities. She mentioned public recognition, or even a school “Wall of Fame.”
But the real payoff, she said, is “each child meeting with success.”
Photo from Google Images