New writing program helps boost test scores 2013.05.01

Written by David Green.

Good teachers, good intervention specialists and a good writing program.

Those three factors contributed to Morenci's success on the state MEAP test that led to the highest scores in the county on the fourth grade writing test. In addition, the school improved its writing scores from 25 percent for the 2011-12 school year to 60 percent in the 2012-13 school year.

The writing and grammar program WriteSteps was adopted by the school three years ago and principal Mary Fisher is pleased with the results.

After several years of low writing scores, the rise to 60 percent is remarkable, Fisher said, and WriteSteps gives teachers a different perspective for teaching writing.

Fisher says the lower level teachers have really embraced WriteSteps and are excited about what their kids are doing. She consistently hears “Can you believe this, look at what my student wrote!” and has noticed exceptional writing from students. 

Fisher’s one requirement prior to purchasing WriteSteps was to make sure her entire staff was on board and prepared to use the program. Her teachers found success through the support of professional development as well as the sufficient time given to them to implement WriteSteps into their classrooms.

“Who knows what will happen next year,” said Fisher, “but what I’m seeing coming out of second grade is exciting. Our second graders are writing like experts.” 

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
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    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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