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Improving Literacy in a Virtual World

Johnson Park

December 2, 2020 -- Johnson Park Middle School teachers and staff are taking reading and math literacy to a whole new level this school year. “We are trying to inspire and motivate the entire student body at Johnson Park to help us create a literature and academic rich culture at our school,” said Ann Boussedra, Reading Coach at Johnson Park Middle School. 

To get students to read more and solve more math problems, Reading Coach Boussedra created a contest with prizes to motivate students. While completely voluntary, the contest rules require students to use two programs: Achieve 3000 and ALEKS.

Achieve 3000 is a web-based online reading platform that tests students’ comprehension after reading a nonfiction article. “There are literally thousands of articles for the students to read,” said Boussedra, who taught for the District for 29 years before becoming a coach at the start of this year. “I had one student tell me this story about all these telephones that washed up on a European shore after a ship sank. That student was so excited by that story and others like it.”

The other contest used another online program, Assessment Learning Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS), which features math computations. Prizes for the top readers included either a Johnson Park Middle School hoodie, a pizza delivered to their home, or a $10 gift card. Top point earners on ALEKS also got a pizza delivered to their home by Johnson Park Middle School teachers and staff using contactless delivery. 

One student who received a $10 gift card took his whole family to McDonald’s. Another student could hardly contain his excitement when the pizza arrived at his doorstep. “Ms. Suhoza, Ms. Suhoza he shouted,” said Kelly Suhoza, Johnson Park Middle School counselor. “Everyone came to look at the window when I walked up the sidewalk and knocked on the door. They were so excited.”

Along with the pizza, that student also received a personalized Honor Roll student sign that Math teacher Carinne Blackwell designed. “That student’s mom had the biggest smile on her face when she saw her son’s name on the Honor Roll sign,” said Suhoza. “That Honor Roll sign was already hanging in the window by the time we drove away."

As a Reading Coach, Ms. Boussedra said that she is there to support the teachers and administrators. “These competitions would not be possible without the amazing support and cooperation of the Johnson Park Middle School teachers and administrators,” said Boussedra. “We all believe literacy is the foundation for learning.”

That’s why the competitions will continue at Johnson Park Middle School. Another Achieve 3000 contest started on November 17 and runs through December 11. Prizes for the top two readers and math problem solvers will be similar to the fall contest prizes. The teachers and staff created a video to keep students motivated and engaged. Check out the Johnson Park Middle School video here.