VariQuest Suite with Learning Focused Strategies

ClassroomCharles Rushe Middle School in Pasco County, Florida is a Learning Focused School. To implement the strategies in each of their classrooms, the school started using their new VariQuest Poster Maker and Cutout Maker. According to Anna Condoleon, Rushe Middle School’s Media Specialist, there was a line at the beginning of the school year for teachers to use the VariQuest Cutout Maker and Poster Maker! As Ms. Condoleon and I walked around the school, we saw the visual aids they’ve made.

The Cutout Maker is used extensively to help showcase material posted around each classroom. For example, many teachers have created a bulletin board using the Cutout Maker’s letters and shapes to create a vivid background to post student work on. These bulletin boards provide the students the opportunity to see the progress they’ve made.

Each teacher also has a word wall somewhere in their classroom. It may be a portion of their wall or a bulletin board devoted to displaying vocabulary for the lessons and unit the students are currently working on. Many of the teachers got creative with the headings that they designed on the Cutout Maker labeling their word walls as “Word Blast” or “Vocab is Fab!”. Some teachers even took the time to create the vocabulary words on the Cutout Maker too!

ClassroomThe majority of the classrooms I stopped in also created headings for their essential questions so the students knew where to look to find the questions. This creates uniformity – most of the teachers posted their headings on the left side of their white board so they could easily change the question as the unit progressed and the students are able to look to the same location in every classroom.

Ms. Grau, a Language Arts teacher, created a poster entitled “Questions to Promote Thinking Skills”. The questions posed on the poster help the students learn how to think more critically when reading passages, novels, articles and poetry. On a different portion of her wall, she had several brick posters. Each student from each class period fills in a brick with one of the books he or she read recently, also adding a one to five star rating. This way, the students share the books they like or dislike with each other.

Another teacher created a poster on her door listing different ways for students to interact with text. This gives them something to read while waiting to enter the room. On the list were things like write a letter to the author, write a one minute radio advertisement about the book, and design a time line of events from the book. The media center has posted an essential question above the computers reminding students about how to implement their researching skills.

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