All of the elementary schools in the district have been implementing a program called Extended Learning Time (ELT), which is a block of time built into students’ master schedules to focus on curriculum they either need improvement on or know well and can enhance even more. The goal of ELT is to improve students’ overall academic achievement.
From mid-November through the end of December, a group of fifth graders at Seward Elementary participated in a persuasive writing project that focused on heightening writing skills during their ELT class. As part of the project, the students were asked by their assigned ELT teacher, Brandon Keysor, to pick from a list of controversial issues, conduct research, and write an 8+ sentence paragraph designed to convince the audience of their position on the matter. There were a range of topics to choose from including whether cell phones are good or bad, whether schools should have school uniforms, whether schools should spend money on inclusive playgrounds, whether animal testing is good or bad, and several other interesting subjects.
Students chose topics for a variety of reasons. Taryn Yeomans said she is passionate about animals, so she chose the topic of animal testing and whether it is good or bad and should be allowed. Mac Maher and Noelle Pipher also chose to write about animal testing, but they chose to because they wanted to learn more about it through research. Some topics were chosen because of personal experience, as is the case with Kaden Tezyk and his decision to write about cell phones. Tiera Ly chose to write about medical marijuana because of her personal connection of having a family member with cancer and also because she is interested in studying medicine.
The students all said they really enjoyed Mr. Keysor’s ELT class. “I liked it because he let us choose our topics,” Rylee Sheehan said. Danielle Swietoniowski said she liked how the class challenged her. Mary Gasper said she liked that he always gave them a second chance to do better, and she really appreciated the effort Mr. Keysor put in to teaching the class. Carter DeRosa did speak up and say he disliked the quizzes because they were pretty hard, but he liked how they were allowed to help one another on their assignments.
When asked what they thought about Extended Learning Time, the fifth graders gave some interesting perspectives. Finley Hogan thinks ELT is fun, especially because they learn new things every day. McKenna Wilmot said she likes how ELT is grouped in to different levels. Danielle Swietoniowski added to that notion stating that being grouped with other kids with the same skill level as theirs helps them feel more comfortable. Caroline Smith also pointed out that ELT helps break up the stress of the school day because it’s different from their regular classes. “It never occurred to me that students could look at ELT as a stress reliever,” Mr. Keysor said.
The persuasive paragraphs these students wrote are attached for your reading pleasure!
Public Information Specialist