An Interview with Mrs. Tornquist

An Interview with Mrs. Tornquist

This is the first article in a series of interviews with Baker Charter Schools staff.  Many of the questions will be the same in each interview, but the answers will vary because of the many different personalities and teaching passions of our staff!


 Dawn Tornquist, Summer 2018

Dawn Tornquist, Summer 2018

Hi, Dawn! Could you please share with our readers a little bit about yourself and about your job at BWA?

I was a lab teacher during the 2017-2018 school year along with a smaller AT caseload. I am excited to be a full-time AT [advisory teacher] next year. I can teach English, business courses, and electives.

Thank you! We all love our school, but what do you love that is outside our school? Family, hobbies, etc...

I love spending time with my family. We cook together and have family game nights.

What is your favorite thing to teach at BWA?

I like all of my classes. My favorite thing to teach is that it's okay to try new things.

What is your favorite field trip?

Ever or this school year?

How about both?

I enjoyed the Evergreen Museum trip and I always enjoy any trip to a pumpkin patch.

Can you share a student success story?

This year, one of my AT kiddos started the school year with 3.5 credits as a Senior. He now has 12.00 credits and can graduate next year .

What was the most memorable home visit that you have experienced?

Has to be the time that my Kindy student put black makeup on me with paintbrushes. She wanted me to have a makeover.

What is a challenge that you have had to overcome at Baker Web Academy?

It was my first year so there were many.

What does the growth mindset mean to you?

The ability to reflect on a situation and see if it's something you would change.

Thank you, Dawn, for taking the time to do this interview! Enjoy the rest of your summer vacation!

What Sound Does The Letter R Really Make?

By Ellery Garrison, Reading Specialist for Baker Web Academy


 Photo by  Bixentro

Photo by Bixentro

This topic must be at the top of my list as personal pet peeves! Over the years as a Reading Specialist, I have heard the letter R mispronounced multiple times within my classroom, as well as on tv shows (reading specifically for kids), videos, and even online videos on teaching reading. 

I think that one of the main reasons for this is that it is VERY difficult to pronounce correctly!
Think right now of the word rabbit. Say it out loud- "rabbit." Now tell me does the sound the letter R says? Does it say /er/ (remember when you see // to say the SOUND of the letters inside)? No it does not.

Yet this is one of the most common errors people make when teaching this letter sound.
The letter R makes a sound more similar to /ruh/ or /rih/; however, it's sound is often associated with the vowel which comes afterwards. For example, the R in run would say /ruh/, and the R in riff would say /rih/. However, if you were really going to be accurate about which sound R correctly makes you would have to remove all the vowel sounds....can you do that? Let's see. Say the sound /ruh/, now take away the /uh/. Difficult isn't it? Yet that is the correct sound for the letter R.

Author's Note: Now, I do not have a masters in Linguistics, so it is important for you to understand where my background for this information came from. It originally started within my linguistics courses at SDSU where we focused extensively on letter-sound correspondence (ie-phonics), then in my coursework for my teaching credential at SDSU, also within coursework for my Masters (with an emphasis in Reading), and most recently within courses taught by Houghton Mifflin.
 

An Interview with Mrs. Altman

An Interview with Mrs. Altman

This is the first article in a series of interviews with Baker Charter Schools staff.  Many of the questions will be the same in each interview, but the answers will vary because of the many different personalities and teaching passions of our staff!


Could you share with our readers a little bit about yourself and about your job at BWA?

Hi!  I'm Shauna Altman!  I live with my family in Pendleton, Oregon, and I'm part of the Eastern Region at Baker Web Academy.  I am the writing/language arts teacher for 6th grade students that are part of our "Choice Program." That is, students and their parents choose the textbooks that are the best fit for them.  I also teach elementary technology and middle school digital learning, and I plan to start teaching a visual note-taking class this fall.

Wow! That's a lot! We all love our school, but what do you love that is outside our school? Family, hobbies, etc...

My family is awesome, of course!  We love music and going on trips together.  I also do a lot of tech outside of school. I can easily spend hours on the computer or my ipad, playing with art or even playing Minecraft.

What is your favorite thing to teach at BWA?

I love teaching my middle school digital learning class.  I designed it myself with creativity and middle school students in mind.  This summer I plan to add more digital art and video editing elements to the class, based on student requests!

What is your favorite field trip?

This is a tough one.  I find something to love about every trip we take.  However, digging for fossils in Central Oregon was a pretty awesome trip.  I learned so much, and I enjoyed listening to the questions students posed to our ranger field guide. I even went back to dig for fossils on my own later, in the town Fossil, inspired by this trip!

Can you share a student success story?

Yes! All of my advisory students are successful in some way. I think one of my favorite things to watch was an older student, one in high school. I will call him Mo. Mo came to our school halfway through his junior year. Math was stressing him out--big time!  It was just overwhelming and it made him sick to his stomach.

When we put Mo in our most popular math class, it started to stress him out again. So we met with a counselor. (If I remember correctly, we had a video conference.) We decided to try a different math curriculum.  I also gave him the information to contact the math tutors and I showed him how to search for additional math lessons on Khan Academy.

The switch made all the difference! Suddenly he was able to study and take notes in a way that worked for him, he was able to get the help he needed, and he began to see success in the math class.  It was all that the student needed to feel better at school and in to feel better in general!

What was the most memorable home visit that you have experienced?

My favorite things at home visits happen after all of the progress monitoring is done and all of the other logistics are out of the way.  Then I can read a story with the little kids, or help with an art project, or show a fun video on youtube that helps with math, or share a website with older kids who need an extra challenge.  There is always some fun way to integrate technology into learning, but art supplies are super fun as well!

What is a challenge that you have had to overcome at Baker Web Academy?

One challenge that I faced when I started my advisory home visits was that students would just leave the table or start playing on a device while I was meeting with them. I found that it really helped to set up expectations--at the start of the year and again at the start of the new semester--where we talked about no cell phones or devices at the table when it is the student's turn. I expect students and parents to be present when I am at their house, and I am present in return. We only have an hour, twice a month. So we'd better make the most of that time together!

As a school, we have studied the growth mindset all year as part of our professional development. What does the growth mindset mean to you?

To me, the growth mindset means that things will change, and we will change and grow with them.  Mistakes will be made, and that is ok. We will fail. I will, my students will, and parents of students will. And that is ok, too. If we never fail it is only because we never tried.

Through failure, we will learn where we need to focus on improvement.  Sometimes that means we need to take that class again. Sometimes we just need to spend more time doing the work we have. And sometimes we need to take a different path to get to the same results. Always, I see my students' path to graduation and the world beyond.

Thank you, Shauna, for taking the time to do this interview!  

Thank you!  Have a great day!

My Kid Knows Phonics, But Is Not Reading! What's Going On?

My Kid Knows Phonics, But Is Not Reading! What's Going On?

By Ellery Garrison, Reading Specialst for Baker Web Academy


I get this A LOT from parents, and occasionally even from a few teachers. The first thing I do is some assessments (or talk to the parent) to see exactly where the problem lies, and almost every single time it is the same problem-there are pieces missing in their phonics knowledge.

Phonics is not just learning the sound that individual letters make, but also the sound made by a combination of letters.

Sometimes the students are not comfortable enough with all of their letter sounds, but more often than not they have not been taught all the sounds of the digraphs and blends (sh, ch, th, wh), vowel pairs (ea, ee, ie), r-controlled vowels (ar, er, ir, ur), silent-e rule, and most importantly: which rule within a word takes the lead (yes, there is a hierarchy).

Now all of this must sound confusing because I know when I re-learned it all within my credential program it didn't sink in until I was fully teaching it day after day.

The first thing I suggest to parents is to start again at the beginning. Start with one sound for each letter (watch for an upcoming teaching phonics article), then go on to digraphs and blends. Once the child has these down well, go on to vowel pairs, r-controlled vowels, and the silent-e rule. Once those are down, fill in the holes with items such as the sounds for /le/, /oo/ (2 sounds for this one), /ow/, etc. When these sounds are down, then comes the craziness of the English language-all of those rule-breakers! It is so sad for me to go over all of the rules, have my students start to get it, then tell them that not all of our words follow these rules! So cruel.

It is best to remember that when teaching your child to read there will likely be many times when YOU have NO IDEA what sound something makes. Don't get frustrated. It is the nature of our language that not all of the rules apply to every word, just most words.

Teaching children how to read takes patience, repetition, and lots of time.  But the benefits of having a reader in the home are immeasurable! Start with the sounds of the letters, move on to letter combinations, and soon you will see your child able to read entire words!  Let the reading begin!

Answers About Silent Reading

Answers About Silent Reading

Student: I have a question about how one should read when they are reading silently. I was recently talking to a friend who is a very good reader. He told me that when he reads, his eyes see the words and the words "click" (or rather the meaning of the words "click") in his brain and he understands them. He told me that when he sees numbers, they slow him down because he has to actually say them in his head.

EG: There are two methods of reading silently: subvocalization (saying the words inside your head), and …

Who Knew?

Who Knew?

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From Defeated to Grateful

From Defeated to Grateful

From the time our son was born, he has been in learning environments, a structured home life, consistent daycare, preschool, elementary, and various sports or elective involvement. Indeed, it does take a village to raise and teach well rounded children, as the old saying goes. We were so used to just succumbing to district placement and school led courses in a cookie cutter way. Now, Baker Web Academy (BWA) is a part of our village, teaching outside the box. We feel secure in their support and educating goals. Yet, we have choice and involvement to every lesson taught with ability to customize specifically to our child… 

From Baker Early College to the Netherlands

From Baker Early College to the Netherlands

Baker Early College was an essential step into my current path of life. Having the freedom to study at the local community college gave me the ability to pursue what was interesting and life-giving to me personally. It was also a better exercise in adulthood; without the typical schedule of "all-day every-day" of high school. No such thing as bathroom passes…

Easier Than You Think: Choosing Baker Charter Schools

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School at home does not have to be a mystery. "How does she do it?" "I could never do school at home with MY kids." "Where would I even start?" These are questions I hear all the time from friends, parents, and grandparents. My answer is simple, "If you have the desire to homeschool your child, and YOU believe it is the best environment for his/her learning, then Baker Charter School will give you all the tools you need." Seriously, it is THAT easy…