It was not the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but the reading unit entitled Alien Invaders which transformed Eighth-grade students into enthusiastic readers.
The classes of Susan Rafferty, Phil Anzalone, Garrett Lynch, and Gerard Sampson are “using a fabulous new reading program by Scholastic, called Read 180,” explained Reading Teacher Susan Rafferty, “which encompasses many facets of language learning, including motivational-leveled reading, technology, and a meaningful and engaging writing component.”
Learning the impact of many, non-native species in our environment—particularly the “invasive species”—was especially interesting to the students. They showed great motivation in their nonfiction reading, sifting through newspaper articles, magazine articles, and other science texts before they chose one species to research.
Whether they selected the Japanese Barberry Plant, Killer Bees, the Swamp Eel, the Mexican Fruit Fly, the European Red Fox, the Wild Boar, Nutria, the Burmese Python, or even the domestic cat, the students utilized new reading skills such as Problem and Solution, and Cause and Effect, while conducting extensive research.
“They employed activities that reflect our Common Core Standards, such as critical reading skills and building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction,” Mrs. Rafferty remarked. “The Common Core State Standards focus on the student’s ability to comprehend complex text and increase rigor in writing. I'm glad that we are challenging our students more and increasing the complexity of the text that they read.”
Through their projects, these Eighth-grade students remarkably demonstrated their capacity to rise above the norm and surpass the expectations when fueled by a reading program that stimulates creativity. It was an eye-opening unit in so many ways. “I didn't know that invasive species could be so destructive to our environment,” stated Trina, to the general consensus of her classmates.
Upon completion of their research projects the students prepared and showcased PowerPoint presentations. Using effective verbal communication skills that they had learned, the students eagerly presented their impressive research to their teams of teachers, including Mrs. Rafferty. “I couldn't be more proud of their dynamic efforts in this fun and meaningful project!” she beamed.