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Applying ACT knowledge to real life

It all came to him one fateful winter night while watching an episode of “Cops.”

At least that’s what Somerset High School English teacher Cory Lindenberg told school board members Monday night as he explained how he and his colleagues, Susie Kadlec and Carolyn Spoerl, have implemented ideas to help students improve their reading and English ACT scores.

Lindenberg said he was brainstorming while watching TV one night about how to smoothly combine raising ACT scores, implementing Common Core educational standards and what he’s supposed to teach students and have them all work together.

“What specific skills do students need to do well (on the ACT)?” Lindenberg asked as he described subsections in the reading portion of the ACT exam. He specifically outlined reading for inference (a conclusion based on evidence and reasoning), reading for themes and reading for a specific passage.

Last year the trio of teachers piloted a program, having the kids take the ACT test a few times over the course of the year, scoring the tests online, then determining which areas of the test that students needed to work on. They plan to formally roll out the program this year as part of their Professional Learning Community (PLC) professional development.

“We weave it into everything we do and made sure students are getting what they need exactly where they need it,” Lindenberg said.

Lindenberg hopes to eventually apply it to other reading subsections in the ACT, including humanities, science and social studies, in conjunction with those departments.

Kadlec said the students’ first exposure to the ACT test had them “kind of dumbfounded.” She said many of the students thought they could just go take the test and have success, but learned that it will take some work.

“However, real life isn’t necessarily test taking,” Kadlec said.

That is why she and Spoerl partnered their English 11 and AP classes together to find community service issues, do research, conduct interviews, “read between the lines,” and find what solutions were possible or had already been implemented for those issues.

Projects the students took on included teaching young girls self-esteem, encouraging fifth- and sixth-grade girls to pursue careers in science and math, building a community sign, making conditions more sanitary in the weight room and implementing schedule changes in the high school. To do these projects, students had to infer, or “read between the lines” of their research, to determine what solutions were possible, and which didn’t work.

“It was actually a good skill to learn when their projects failed,” Spoerl said. “It was nice to see students who are usually apathetic to issues do something about them, instead of complaining.”

Other business

  •  Nicole Tetzlaff and John Siggens were named the 2014-15 high school senior school board representatives.
  •  The board approved hiring these people for the following positions: Eric Possehl as a band director; Gail Kerr as a junior Kindergarten teacher; Melissa Swanson as an ELL support staff employee; Nicole Leslie as special education support staff; Catherine Skramstad as special education support staff; Lori Maypark as special education support staff; Nancy Klaas as short term substitute special education aide; and Laura Bambach as short term substitute special education aide.
  •  The board approved the 2014-15 district goal.
  •  The board approved a resolution authorizing a taxable tax and revenue anticipation promissory note for cash flow purposes in an amount not to exceed $500,000.
  • The board accepted the resignation of elementary office aide Mary Johnson Aug. 11.
  •  The annual meeting will be held at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 8.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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