Written By: Mr. Bob Lay, Physical Education Teacher
"Physical education provides cognitive content and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge, and behaviors for physical activity and physical fitness." (CDC.gov) At MELA Charter school, every student receives 30 minutes of physical education and 30 minutes of recess every day. Read more to learn what this looks like at our elementary school!
Students describe the Physical Education classes as being fun and non-threatening. I'm fortunate to work with all of the students at MELA, and each grade is developmentally different from the others.
This has been an amazing school year and I feel very fortunate to have helped my students' growth, confidence, and skills in Physical Education!
Reading and Math Intervention Services
Blog post written by: Cynthia Kuenzel (Reading Interventionist), Jessica Anderson (Groves Certified Interventionist) and Kaitlin Hamby (Math Interventionist)
The task of an interventionist at MELA is to give scholars another opportunity to practice and refine the skills that are being learned in the classroom so they are able to reach their learning goals. We like to think of our time with scholars as “an extra scoop” of learning time to make sure that reading or math skills are firmly grasped, understood and can be applied to classroom work.
Both the reading and math interventionist positions are new opportunities for the scholars at MELA this year. Data from formal classroom assessments are used to identify those scholars who are in need of extra support in learning grade-level skills. Informal assessments and teacher recommendations can also be used. The interventionists work with the instructional coach and classroom teachers to understand the academic needs of a scholar. Once the needs are identified, the scholar can begin to work with the interventionist, usually in a small group with their grade-level peers. Working with the interventionist is in addition to their work with the classroom teacher in whole group instruction and small group instruction: that “extra scoop”.
Math - Ms. Hamby
As a math interventionist, I work with small groups of scholars on math concepts such as counting, place value, multiplication and division, addition and subtraction, fractions and decimals, and more. Scholars receive personalized instruction based on their individual needs. We work together to strengthen their math skills so that they can feel confident in the classroom as well as achieve their math goals! I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with many scholars at MELA each and every day.
ELA (English Language Arts) - Mrs. Kuenzel
Reading is a very complex task. To assist the children at MELA in acquiring the skills necessary to be a reader, I work in small groups on the grade-level reading skills that the scholars need more time to achieve. For kindergarten children, this has meant working on the letter names and sounds, a prerequisite for decoding words and beginning to read. The younger elementary groups are working on quick recall of high frequency words and word families in addition to repeated readings of text. These repeated readings help improve the scholars’ automaticity, giving them essential practice in applying known skills. Increasing their automatic ability to decode also increases the comprehension of the text they are reading. In the older grades, we work on increasing their reading accuracy and automaticity which also improves their reading comprehension. The goal is always to help each scholar gain more reading skills and to see themselves as readers.
Groves Intervention Services- Ms. Anderson
MELA uses the Groves Curriculum to teach phonics to PreK, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade. As part of this curriculum, students are supported by having a Groves Certified Interventionist, Ms. Anderson. The Groves Interventionist meets with students one on one or in small groups twice a week and teaches out of the intervention manual for each grade level to help students that need an extra scoop of practice with their phonics skills. The Groves Interventionist also helps teachers with Aimsweb testing and does progress monitoring on Aimsweb with the students that they meet with.
Spotlight on Special Education
Written By: Micheal Gears, Academic SPED Teacher; Olivia Hermans, Academic SPED Teacher; Amy Lou Anderson, Occupational Therapist; Erin Rudbeck Social-Emotional Learning SPED; and Kristyne Bazinet Speech and Language Pathologist
The MELA special education team works to support our scholars with disabilities through the use of individualized education programs that target their specific needs. Services provided include support for academics in reading, math, and writing; speech and language development; occupational therapy; and behavior and social skills. When providing these services, educators work with scholars individually or in small groups.
At MELA, special education teachers Olivia Hermans and Mike Gears provide academic support for our scholars. Amy Lou Anderson is MELA’s occupational therapist, and Kristyne Bazinet is our school’s speech therapist. Special education administrators Ashley Evans and Kristin Fischer also work to support the team here at MELA.
Our social workers, Erin Rudbeck and Autumn Terlouw, help our scholars work on behavior and social skills through individualized and small group lessons. During these lessons, students work on a variety of skills, such as emotion regulation, friendship skills and coping skills that can be utilized both within the school environment, but also when they are out in the community. Ms. Erin and Ms. Autumn are not only available to provide resources to the scholars while they are here at MELA, they are also able to help connect students and their families to resources that they may need within the community. They are always happy to help!
This fall the MELA team followed guidance from the state of Minnesota to review each individualized education program before winter break. This allowed our team to be responsive to our scholars’ academic, social, and emotional learning needs that have been impacted by the pandemic.
Also, just as classroom teachers have needed to adapt how they deliver instruction to provide distance learning to scholars who are quarantining or isolating, so too have those of us in special education.
Even beyond Zoom and Google Meets, though, the team has worked to integrate technology into what we do with our instruction. For example, using a program called MobyMax has allowed teachers to better identify what level our scholars are at in reading, writing, and math. This information then allows us to meet the scholars where they are at and provide the most beneficial instruction.
Mike, Olivia, Kristyne, Ashley, and Kristin are all new to MELA this year and have collaborated with Autumn, Erin, and Amy Lou to provide a positive learning environment that nurtures and supports all of our scholars in ways that help them reach their full potential.
We love working with all of our scholars, and we are grateful to be able to work with the team of educators and families that supports them.
English Language Learners Service
Blog Post Written By: Danna Morales, ELL Teacher
At MELA, the English Language Learners Service (ELL), provides additional support to students so they can obtain the skills needed for their academic success. The ELL program has students from different countries, native speakers of different languages, and academic levels. Our program is designed to meet the students' needs, as we focus on what they know as well as their strengths, as we know each student can be highly motivated and encouraged according to their proficiency level and background.
The services can be provided as a “push in”, when we work with the students within their own classroom environment, or “pull out”, when we work in the ELL classroom. These activities can be individual (1 student + teacher) or in small groups of students (between 2 to 4 students + teacher).
We always welcome with open arms students that come from other schools or even newcomers to the country.
Students receive personalized instruction according to their needs. We use the scores obtained in the ACCESS Tests that determine the levels of progress in English language learning of each student in the domains of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. In addition to these test scores, we work side by side with their classroom teacher to make sure we have a very good understanding of their individual needs.
Being bilingual has a lot of great benefits for children and adults. We at MELA, encourage families to keep using their first language, with the understanding that we want to help the students to be bilingual and equally successful in both languages they speak. We focus on student learning by giving them the tools for success such as letters and sounds, vocabulary, reading comprehension, language organization, writing, reading, math, among others.
ELL students have goals as in each classroom and each time a student achieves a goal for the lesson or week they receive recognition, as we use these goals to encourage students to continue to engage in the activities we do on a daily basis.
We also work on Social-Emotional skills using MELA Tickets, when the student demonstrates the expectations of being Mindful, Empathetic, Leader and Accountability. These Tickets are taken by the students to their classrooms and are placed in MELA ticket boxes. These are counted at the end of the month in order to celebrate their growth on a regular basis.