Academic Year 2007 - 2008 Team Report

Delaware Team Report


Team Members:

Minerva Acosta-Montilla, Jean Ann, Carol Johnston, Blanca Morales, Long Peng, David Pickard, Lisa Quinones, Kristi Ruthig

Team Name (e.g. Delaware Elementary):

Delaware Elementary School

Write the number of Teacher participants for each period.

Academic Year number

Summer Institute



Team Location and Focus (e.g. Delaware ESL literacy)

Location: Delaware Elementary School, Syracuse NY


Support the literacy development of ESL students, students with disabilities and/or both

Support the development of Oswego preservice teachers who do field experiences at Delaware

Support the professional development of Delaware teachers

Support the development of parents college literacy (understanding the importance of college education for their children and themselves)

Data analyzed on teacher learning and results (e.g. Faculty surveys, teachers reflective journals)

In 2006-2007, we supported the literacy development of 42 Delaware Elementary School students. These students consist mostly of students whose first language is not English and students with a range of disabilities and/or students of whom both descriptions are true. To support their literacy development, we engaged these students in a semester-long shared writing activity conducted jointly by Delaware ES students and SUNY Oswego pre-service teachers. We analyzed the shared writing these students, with a focus on the development of ideas, the organization of ideas, sentence construction, grammatical features and vocabulary development. In-service teachers used the data generated from the ongoing examination of shared writing to make changes in their instruction: i.e. providing more targeted instruction for specific struggling students, incorporating more visual and tactile learning activities, introducing more systematically certain key vocabulary, etc. Pre-service teachers used the shared writing data to learn how to teach reading and writing and how to encourage students to develop writing ideas and organize these ideas in written form. Even though we do not yet have the New York statement assessment data for the group of Delaware ES students who participated in this years shared writing activity, NY state assessment results from previous cohorts of Delaware ES school students suggest that ESL students, in particular, show improvement in English Language Arts achievement scores.

As the shared writing conducted by students was only collected towards the end of the year (May, 2007), we have not had a chance to closely examine all of the writing done by all students. In this coming year, we plan to analyze the shared writing qualitatively, focusing on the following aspects of the writing: development of ideas, organization of ideas, development of grammatical knowledge and vocabulary development. Quantitatively, we intend to examine students writing in terms of discourse length, paragraph length, sentence length and vocabulary size. We intend to look at the writing data in light of their NY state ELA assessment results.

Data analyzed on student learning and results: (e.g. annual literacy assessments/NYS report card disaggregated data for 4th grade ELA, analysis of rubric scores on students writing samples each quarter for students in vs. not in the program):

Our writing activity of past years involved Delaware ES students and SUNY Oswego students writing letters to each other. The letters were augmented by weekly in-person visits. This year, we abandoned the idea of writing letters, on the advice of teachers in the project (Kristi Ruthig and Carol Johnston) who pointed out that this way of operating presented a challenge in that both sets of writers might have to reveal and discuss personal aspects of their lives, which for many reasons, could serve to stop written conversation rather than encourage it. Our new strategy was to have the Delaware ES students and SUNY Oswego students do a shared writing activity in which, in pairs, they had to come up with a story from brainstorming to the final written product. The teachers intuitions on this matter appeared to be correct, and we ended up with a data set of the shared writing process for 42 pairs of writers. In general, we found that each pair was able, over time, to produce writing in English (except for one or two students who are recent arrivals to the US and therefore still Spanish dominant) in which the story lines became complex to an appropriate degree, as the amount of writing, length of sentences, and use of appropriate vocabulary and grammar improved. Anecdotally, we heard about the interaction between the pairs of writers, who seemed to enjoy the shared writing activity more than the letter-writing activity of past years.