Chelsie does extensive research on new ideas that she can bring to her classroom to make sure content is accessible to all her students. This served her well throughout the pandemic, as she had to quickly find new ways to meet her students where they were. She learned how to best record lessons, edit videos to make them more visually appealing, and used an online platform to do whole group and small group lessons with students. She also took virtual field trips so she could bring parts of the world to their homes.
When it comes to reading instruction, she has been looking at the science of how the brain learns to read and adjusting her practices to match what science says is best for students. Some of these practices are not widely known, but she has seen many of her students' reading progress soar because of these new practices, including using decodable readers in small groups, using an activity called phoneme-grapheme mapping, intentional phonological awareness time daily, explicit phonics instruction, and teaching irregular words using the heart word method.
To help students who struggle emotionally, she has read many books, listened to podcasts and watched free professional developments to try to learn how to better meet their needs with a classroom culture of inclusion. She has learned about different brain states, and implemented structures in her room to help students in every brain state thrive. This looks like implementing a family board, knowing how to respond to misbehavior, daily rituals to build connections between students, and a calm down corner in her classroom for students who need a safe place to have a minute to themselves.
“When we look at nationwide statistics, and see that only one-third of our fourth graders in the nation read at a proficient level, and that 85 percent of juvenile defenders have reading problems, I see a systemic problem that needs to be solved. The past couple of years, I have been extremely motivated to read research, collect data and use practices in my classroom that will help all students in my care learn to read. This has been my driving motivation for trying new practices in my classroom that in turn helped the majority of my students turn into proficient readers even in the middle of a pandemic.” – Chelsie Titsworth, 1st Grade Teacher
As Chelsie implements new practices in her classroom, she is passionate about sharing them with other educators through her position as the First Grade Team Leader on her campus and on the English Language Arts and Math Curriculum Committees at the district level.
With the Unconventional Thinking in Teaching grant, Chelsie plans to purchase resources to increase literacy rates in her classroom, such as decodable readers and literature that represents the make-up of her class, and professional development books so she could continue to learn about how the brain learns to read.