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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Got ESTEEM? THS has it!

There's a new club in town...The ESTEEM Club.
Christina Reynolds is pictured proudly displaying the club's new shirts. Each letter stands for a different trait.

Mrs. Reynolds, the club sponsor, realized that students needed a safe forum in which to discuss issues that teens face today. The popular club has grown from 100 to 300 students. The meetings are held after school and there is even a curriculum in place to keep things on course.

This teacher may have hit on a way to reduce the dropout rate AND increase the graduation rate. Very impressive!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Thanks to Mr. Willie Jemison

The halls of R. L. Young look like a "Winter Wonderland" thanks to Mr. Willie Jemison. Each year when students return to school after the Thanksgiving holidays they are thrilled to see all the wonderful sights and sounds of Christmas. There are trees placed in the hallway of each building for students to decorate. There are lights and bells playing Christmas music over each door. Garland, bells, lights, trees, music, and a village complete with snow, are placed throughout each building. Everyone is "in the Christmas spirit" thanks to all of the hard work of Mr. Jemison. We appreciate you taking your own time to give everyone the "MAGIC" of Christmas! MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR from R. L. Young.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ole' Sock Tree

Ever heard of a Sock Tree? Ellis Junior High has one as you enter the front hall of the school, and yes it is decorated with socks, gloves, and hats! The idea behind the display is that students can make a difference by helping to keep the community warm. All items placed on the tree will be donated to First Family Services.

This special project is being sponsored by the Zora Ellis Junior High National Junior Honor Society. If you would like to help this cause, the deadline to donate is December 13th. How refreshing to see teens reaching out to the community!

Reading fluency

As the old song lyric goes, “Everything old is new again.” One example of how true this lyric rings is the concept of fluency in reading. I remember as a 1st grader, the ultimate compliment the teacher could pay was for her to say of you, “He reads like he talks.” She was referring to “fluency,” that quality a child has when he or she is no longer struggling to call words one at a time, but is reading groups of words with confidence and expression. Some children acquired fluency early in their school careers, while this skill eluded others well into junior high.

Recent research in reading is telling us what our 1st grade teachers already seemed to know—teaching students to read with fluency is an essential skill in order for students to be able to understand what they have read.

The reason I am putting together this information for you this week is because fluency is one of those areas where it is easy for parents to help. Parents universally like spelling tests because it is an area where most all parents feel comfortable in helping their children. We can call out the words and tell the child when he or she has spelled the words correctly. Fluency is just as easy. Here is what to do:

1) Get where you can see a clock or watch that has a second hand on it, or better yet, pick up a one-minute timer from the grocery store.
2) Ask your child to read out loud from a library book that is on his or her reading level.
3) Stop your child after one minute and count how many words were in that passage. Subtract from that number any words that were incorrect.
4) You now have your child’s fluency rate! It’s that easy.

Where should your child be performing in the area of fluency? This chart will give you that answer:

Words Per Minute

Grade Level

Beginning of Year

Middle of Year

End of Year

1st Grade



2nd Grade




3rd Grade




4th Grade




5th Grade




6th Grade




How can you help your child increase his or her fluency rate?

1) Provide models of what fluent reading sounds like. Children are great imitators, and when your child hears you, an older sibling, or another good model read aloud, your child will imitate the rate of speed and the vocal expression.

2) It’s OK to let your child practice on familiar material. Rereading is an excellent way to increase fluency rates.

3) Encourage your child to let his or her eyes move ahead and see groups of words rather than one word at a time. Its’ easier to put together a puzzle that has a few large pieces than it is to assemble a puzzle that has many small pieces. Likewise, children who are good readers have learned to see chunks of words at one time.

4) Stress that it’s not just about seeing how fast they can read. What we are trying to do is get the reading speed up to a level where lack of speed will cease to be a cause for not understanding what was read. That’s all it is—faster is not better. When your child reaches the fluency rates shown on the chart, then you can emphasize expression. As an experiment, time yourself reading aloud a passage from a magazine and see how far you get in one minute. You will find that even the 135 words per minute that 6th graders should be reading when they leave us is not that fast.

5) Most importantly, ask your child to summarize what was just read. That way, you know your child is comprehending the material and not just calling words.

When we develop readers who are fluent, we are actually doing several things. We are developing young people who better comprehend what they read, our first and foremost goal. At the same time, we are developing young people who are expressive and enjoyable for others to hear. Finally, we are encouraging a generation confident in their ability to speak before an audience. Not a bad investment on our time!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

CHRISTMAS CONCERT; Th., Dec.7, 7:00 p.m., Harwell Auditorium

Talladega H. S. Concert Band & the Zora Ellis J. H. Bands
December 07, 2006
7 p.m. at Harwell Auditorium
Free admission - DONATIONS ACCEPTED!
After Intermission, there will be a drawing for a Kawasaki 360 Prairie 4x4 4-Wheeler & a Gatlinburg or Florida Vacation!
The Band Boosters of Talladega will also be sponsoring a Christmas Cookie Fund Raiser.

Local Artist Volunteers at R. L. Young

Students in Kindergarten and First Grade are benefitting from some wonderful opportunities to participate in ART. Mrs. Jana Hadley VOLUNTEERS at R. L. Young every Friday and does different artistic techniques with the students. They have created still-life portraits, chalk drawings, ornaments out of dough, unique origami ornaments and much more. The faculty, staff and, especially the students, appreciate Mrs. Hadley giving of her time to help us enjoy ART. Thank you, Mrs. Hadley!