Powerful digital literacy curriculum advances reading and critical thinking skills

High-tech California school plugs into StudySync® for content and student engagement
By: | Issue: March, 2016 | Case Study
January 25, 2016

Robert C. Fisler School serves 960 K8 students in the suburban Fullerton School District in Orange County, California. Second- through eighth-grade students participate in the school’s 1-to-1 laptop program, which has been in place since the school opened in August 2004.

But access to technology is meaningless without the right digital programs. Elizabeth Ellison, eighth-grade English Language Arts and English Language Essentials teacher and Fisler veteran, knew she needed to incorporate purposeful technology into her classroom. Ellison learned about StudySync, a digital ELA curriculum, from her colleagues and wanted to include it in her classroom.

StudySync is a powerful digital literacy curriculum designed to improve reading, writing, critical thinking, speaking and listening skills. It has a library of over 1,000 texts, online writing and peer review exercises, standards-based assignments and assessments, and high-quality multimedia lessons. Texts can be sorted by grade level, Lexile® level, standards recommendation, genre, title, author or keyword to streamline lesson planning.

Ellison piloted StudySync in her classroom during the 2012-13 school year, as did several other Fullerton School District middle school teachers. Now Ellison uses StudySync in her classroom every day. Seventh- and eighth-graders across the whole district are also using StudySync’s core literacy program.

“The big thing is having access to so many great excerpts of literature,” says Ellison. “Educators have immediate access to current and classic works. It makes planning very easy.”

StudySync lessons and units allow for engaging digital learning, giving educators the ability to create relevant, standards-aligned assignments through a user-friendly platform.

Although more than 91 percent of students at Fisler scored at or above proficient on the California State Assessment for English Language Arts, Ellison’s high-performing students still learn at different levels and paces.

One student in Ellison’s classroom with visual and audio processing challenges had specific learning needs that required additional support. With StudySync, Ellison could offer tools such as annotation, embedded research, modeling of classroom discussions, and additional video and audio enhancements that allowed him to work through material at his own pace. Ellison says StudySync has definitely helped this student become a more productive learner.

Prior to using the StudySync Thematic Unit on Suspense with her class, Ellison says 26 of her students tested at grade level. After completing the unit, 68 students tested at grade level. Similarly, 19 students who had previously tested at minimal progress improved their test results.

“Students have been so completely engaged with the Suspense Unit, they are making connections to other reading selections, and they are using what they have learned in other classes,” says Ellison.

Ellison believes the biggest improvement for all of her students is a deeper understanding of different types of literatureÑincluding poetry, classic and contemporary novels, and informational textsÑalongside more meaningful classroom conversations.

After also using StudySync® TV, with its modeling of student-led academic discussions, and additional StudySync multimedia resources, Ellison reports that her students are engaged and excited to participate more fully in class, and have learned how to listen and better participate in academic discussions on a variety of topics.

“Students use literary terms and apply them because they have seen it modeled so well in StudySync by students they can relate to,” says Ellison. “They have read and re-read such a great selection of texts and have become so confident in their abilities.”

For more information, visit http://mheonline.com/studysync

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