Phelan noted that teachers feel a deep sense of responsibility to help turn around Connery.
“They embraced a new academic culture,” she said. “That’s not an easy thing. . . . We had to reshape our thinking.”
Close analysis of student test results sheds light on the school’s weaknesses. “We have many levels of learners,” Dill said.
Small-group learning is the norm. Students are grouped by ability, moving through learning stations. In Room 107, second-grade teacher Colleen Bransfield sat at a low table, working with three students on short and long vowels.
Nearby, four girls listened on headphones to a recording of “Tom,” the tale of a mischievous boy, while reading along with the text. In a corner, three girls sat on the floor, reading books such as “Graduation Girls” and “Beaver’s Day.” Other groups brushed up on phonics and reading comprehension.
Two boys named Reese and Linser played a vocabulary game. They took turns moving a spinner, which landed on different letters. They put the letters together to form a word. Then they had to decide if the word was “real” or “nonsense.”
“Rat, smack, ball, hall, hit,” Reese enunciated. “They’re real.”
“Slad, smad, and hup,” Linser said, equally confident. “They’re nonsense.”