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C-NS athletes honored for smarts

The North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education met Monday in front of an overflowing auditorium and acknowledged the scholar athletes for the fall.

Among the teams honored for their academic performances several section three championship squads, girls swimming, boys soccer and girls field hockey, received recognition both for on and off the field.

Following the awards ceremony, Stanley Finkle, director of elementary education and languages, headed a group of colleagues in presenting the updated strategy for teaching English Language Arts skills.

Finkle informed the board as to the findings of focus groups that collected and analyzed data from all of the buildings in the district. "We wanted to identify student performance and develop improvement strategies." The main issue of concern remained aiding in the student's ability to delve into listening and reading pieces on tests in a manner that supports writing.

Scott Wright, staff development, addressed the early literacy program and focused on a balance in literacy technique that contained a step by step reading and writing progression.

The teaching process started with a read/write aloud approach that created an on-going dialogue in an interactive atmosphere utilizing a story element in building comprehension. The next step, shared reading/writing, encouraged teachers to think aloud in an example driven format. Guided reading/writing followed, turning the earlier techniques into tangible practices. The final step, independent reading/writing, helped in turning the students into self-regulated lifelong learners.

Wright summarized, "We want a flexible framework with meaningful assessment."

Randi Downs, literacy professional developer, introduced a program entitled six plus one traits which worked on creating a terminology that students could use in evaluating and discussing reading and writing.

Downs explained the six literary traits as Ideas, Organization, Conventions, Word Choice, Voice and Sentence Fluency, the plus one referred to the presentation aspect of literary analysis.

Finkle closed by laying out the future plans to infuse the six plus one traits technique to all of the middle and high school levels, use balanced literacy district wide, and to adopt a new textbook following a pilot trial.

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