Christine d’Amico est une amie enseignante, spécialiste de la lecture. Depuis plusieurs années, elle l’enseigne avec succès dans une école primaire de New York et ce par le biais d’une méthode efficace, à départ phono-alphabétique (Sing Spell Read and Write). Elle possède une excellente connaissance des méthodes utilisées dans les classes et surtout des résultats qu’elles donnent. Dans cet article, elle dresse un portrait réaliste – mais néanmoins catastrophique – du niveau en lecture des élèves américains, elle suggère une explication et apporte quelques pistes pour qu’enfin tous les enfants maîtrisent la lecture en sortant de l’école élémentaire.
Au titre des éventuelles explications, on évoque couramment les enseignants non qualifiés, démotivés, paresseux, les évaluations (trop nombreuses ou pas assez), le rôle des chefs de districts (responsables des politiques pédagogiques au niveau local), la formation, les parents d’élèves, le manque de discipline, les problèmes de concentration des élèves. Mais qui est vraiment responsable, qui doit rendre des comptes de cet échec massif ? Doit-on privilégier les charters schools (écoles privées sous contrat), la scolarisation à la maison (homeschooling), les écoles privées ?
Avant de répondre à ces questions, Christine d’Amico nous éclaire sur le système scolaire américain qui est différent du nôtre. Ainsi, la liberté pédagogique qui nous est si chère, n’y existe pas. Les choix pédagogiques sont faits au niveau des écoles par le principal ou le chef du district (en charge de plusieurs écoles dans une zone géographique). Les enseignants ne sont que des exécutants, ils sont tenus d’appliquer les curriculums imposés. Tout réside donc dans le choix de ce curriculum. Ce terme désigne une méthode au sens le plus complet du terme : il s’agit du matériel (manuels, matériel collectif…) pouvant s’accompagner de la formation spécifique, dictant tout dans les moindres détails, jusqu’à la façon d’installer les élèves dans la classe, de choisir le type de tableau, de le positionner dans la classe. Ces curriculums, pour la plupart, sont faits par des universitaires appartenant au courant pédagogique dominant constructiviste et ne sont absolument pas dans une logique d’efficacité ni de rapport aux résultats. Ils représentent un marché énorme pour les éditeurs.
Il existe deux grands courants : l’un, dominant, de nature constructiviste (Whole language) et l’autre, minoritaire d’enseignement explicite et structuré, en rapport direct avec l’efficacité. Christine d’Amico déplore que les choix curriculaires se fassent sur des critères marchands, sur des relations de copinage et non sur le rapport aux résultats des méthodes. Mais malgré les piètres résultats, les décideurs ne remettent jamais en question leurs choix, préférant blâmer les enseignants et les accusant de ne pas savoir faire leur métier correctement.
Christine d’Amico fait ensuite une présentation critique de quelques-unes de ces méthodes, au nombre desquelles Teacher’s college ou Every Day Math Program par exemple.
Les solutions, selon elle, reposent donc sur un choix raisonné des curriculums. Elle pense qu’ils devraient être faits par des comités regroupant des enseignants et des parents d’élèves. Elle accorde cette aptitude aux parents d’élèves pour une raison spécifique à la situation américaine. Beaucoup de parents, soucieux de l’instruction de leurs enfants, choisissent le home schooling et utilisent généralement les méthodes explicites ayant fait leurs preuves en termes de résultats. Cela leur donnerait le droit d’intervenir dans les choix curriculaires. Sur cette question particulière, je ne partage pas cet avis. C’est une chose que de faire la classe à la maison à ses propres enfants, et c’en est une autre que d’être enseignant s’adressant à des classes entières. Être enseignant est un véritable métier, et seul l’enseignant peut être capable de choisir une méthode pédagogique. Car c’est un professionnel, il aura un choix éclairé par la connaissance générale des méthodes, des données probantes, de leur rapport à l’efficacité et par son expérience de classe. Toutes choses qui manquent à un parent d’élève, aussi dévoué soit-il à l’instruction de son enfant. Chez nous, le home schooling n’est pas aussi développé qu’aux États-Unis et les parents d’élèves ne sont pas en mesure de donner un avis pédagogique sur une méthode. Il est notoire également que dans l’opinion générale, les méthodes les plus populaires sont rarement les méthodes les plus efficaces.
On lira aussi avec profit les commentaires relatifs aux méthodes efficaces telles que Saxon Math, Singapore Math, Sing Spell Read and Write (Sue Dickson), Orton Gillingham (lecture), Seeing Stars (LindaMood Bell), Musical Maths Facts (Sue Dickson), Basic Writing Skills (Judith Hochman), Excellence in Writing (Andrew Pudewa). Tout cela nous montre que des méthodes efficaces existent bel et bien. Elles sont publiées et prêtes à être utilisées. Et malgré tout, elles n’ont toujours pas la notoriété qu’elles méritent.
Chez nous, en France, l’enseignant peut choisir sa méthode, son manuel. Si les méthodes explicites commencent à être connues des professionnels, elles auront vraiment une existence dès lors que les éditeurs leur consacreront des manuels et des méthodes sous une forme autre que celle d’une réédition des manuels traditionnels de l’école d’antan. Il y a encore beaucoup de chemin à faire pour que les données probantes entrent véritablement dans le domaine éducatif autrement que par des paroles ou des études savantes. Ce pas sera franchi quand les manuels explicites se feront concurrence dans les vitrines des éditeurs.
Can We Fix Our Failing Schools
Christine d'Amico, MA Elementary Ed
Today I was teaching in a general education fifth-grade class in the New York City public school system. I went around and listened to each student read individually. At least 45% of the students in this class suffer from a lack of ability to decode (sound out the words); in addition, about 85% of these students lack a wide breadth of vocabulary knowledge. Research proves that the inability to read fluently, along with vocabulary deficits, result in low comprehension, therefore a significant portion of this class is at risk. I then did a math lesson on equivalent fractions, which was riddled with questions that were beyond these kid’s understanding. I had to tell these frustrated students the answers because they simply could not do their work independently. About 85% of these students don’t know the multiplication and division tables. None of them can write correctly in cursive. Their ability to write essays, even to put together a coherent paragraph, is below grade level. Yet, all these students passed the 4th grade state tests last year, indicating that these tests are obviously dumbed down, and test grading is curved.
Sadly, this evening, I thought, “These kids will probably never catch up to their peers in the suburbs, who are themselves behind the rest of the world!” “Even worse, though” I questioned, "Where the hell are these kids headed?” Dropout, crime or drugs, maybe early pregnancy and poverty, but more importantly cultural and academic illiteracy which makes their decision making and thinking ability substandard. Such is the repetitive cycle in this neighborhood, and this disastrous scenario repeats itself all over the country. And if you think this problem is just in our poorer neighborhoods, you’re wrong.
Who is really responsible for the demise of our schools? Is it the rampant supply of unqualified, unmotivated teachers as the current media depicts? Is teacher tenure the problem? Are teachers simply too lazy and too secure (thanks to pensions) to care? What about state requirements and testing - is there not enough or too much? Is corruption and the lack of integrity in school district leaders the problem? What about the low requirements in teacher formation? Are colleges who are graduating teachers setting requirements for education degrees too low? Are negligent parents to blame? Is lack of discipline the problem? Are children, for the most part, not able to focus anymore? Are disruptive students the problem? Why are so many children failing and falling through the cracks? Who is really responsible for the demise of our educational system and, more importantly, is it redeemable?
If our educational system is restorable, then what can we do to give American students the best education possible? Should we close down all our schools and open charter schools instead? Should we home school our kids? What about private school, is that the answer? What can parents do to turn around their schools, and improve the education of their children? And finally, should we really be ranking our teachers solely on test results?
The most recent results of international comparative statistics show that the U.S. ranks 12th of 24 countries in 4th-grade math, 15th of 44 countries in 8th grade math (2003), and 9th of 35 countries in 4th-grade reading (2001). Out of 35 participating countries, U.S. student attitudes toward reading ranked third from the bottom--suggesting our children are showing little interest in this fundamental subject. (TIMSS Trends in International Math and Science Study and PIRLSS Progress in International Reading Literacy Study)
Concern is mounting that our students are falling seriously behind other countries. Our talent pool is shrinking because fewer students are majoring in math and science at our universities. Colleges are reporting that more and more students are arriving unprepared, requiring freshmen to retake courses which they should have already mastered in high school, and the areas in need of greatest remediation are reading, writing, and math.
For African-Americans and Latinos the statistics are worse yet, as their test scores lag dramatically behind their white and Asian peers. Christopher Jencks and Meredith Phillips, editors of the 1998 book The Black-White Test Score Gap, point out in their introduction that African-Americans score lower than whites on vocabulary, reading and math tests, as well as on standardized tests such as the SAT. This gap appears before kindergarten and persists into adulthood, with the average black student scoring 70 to 80 percent below white students of the same age. Similar issues arise when Mexican-American and Latino students, as well as Native American students, are compared to white students, although this phenomenon has not been studied as widely, say Jencks and Phillips. The gap between the haves and have-nots increases over the years as what is known in pedagogy as the Matthew Effect takes place, whereby the “rich (academically) get richer and the poor (again, academically) get poorer”.
State tests are being dumbed down; recently we learned in New York State that the state tests have been made easier for years while the Bloomberg administration has been touting high test score gains. Now, the state claims, it has raised the standards, but who can believe a system that has been lying for years regarding test results? Every state and city designs tests for region specificity, and have little value because there is no standard of comparison. Conversely, norm-referenced standardized testing is more valid because test results would be compared across the nation.
Another aspect of the problem is lax school discipline; teachers and supervisors are not allowed to discipline students for fear of repercussions from parents. Many teachers are not well-trained in classroom management. Often one or two students create major discipline problems in a class, thereby taking up most of the teacher’s prime teaching time – they are told to “just deal with it,” often while the administration is a mute by-stander.
Our special education classrooms are continuing to fill up, and again African-American students are being placed more than white students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, African-Americans accounted for 16% of the student population; however, African-Americans represented 32%, or double the current representation, of students with mental disabilities in special education. For African-Americans to represent a larger percentage of special education than the general education population, it further substantiates the role of overrepresentation within special education. This disproportionate amount of African-Americans is alarming, and according to one researcher, Dunn, has remained an unresolved issue for the last 30 years. (Zhang & Katsiyannis, 2002)
Teachers complain that parents are not supporting their children’s work at home. Indeed, especially students in low-income, urban neighborhoods, are lacking sorely in parental involvement. In New York City, in general, about 5-10% of the student population is represented by parent involvement in the schools. Even the most active parents, however, don’t have their finger on the causes and solutions of dysfunctional schools. They are mainly focused on helping their children survive in a system that is not working.
Teacher preparation courses are devoid of academic rigor in research-based reading pedagogy. While reading is the single most important factor for judging a student’s success in school (children are referred to special education classes because they can’t read), teachers rarely get any opportunity to study effective reading instructional methods. [The] limited phonemic awareness of teachers, their gaps in basic linguistic knowledge, and the difficulty with which the requisite information about language is gained have become apparent. Neither undergraduate nor graduate training of teachers typically requires the command of language structure necessary to teach reading and spelling well. (Moats, 1995 AFT Magazine)
Teachers, without in-depth knowledge of how to teach reading and spelling, are placed in early childhood classrooms where the instruction will either make or break a child’s entire academic career. Just as importantly, there are some teachers (such as non-native speakers) placed in these classrooms who have intrinsic linguistic limitations to the speech sound awareness and understanding of orthography (Moats, 1995 AFT Magazine) required to teach these most important skills.
All these problems, however, although essential pieces of the public school puzzle, are small in comparison to the one major cause of our school’s demise: curriculum. A school district’s choice of curriculum dictates everything teachers say and do. It can even dictate the seating arrangement in the classrooms (whether the students are facing each other or the front of the room); the number of bulletin boards, how they are displayed, and the comments on them; and the use of chalkboards or wipe boards. Everything from what the teachers say, to how it is said, is dictated solely by the choice of curriculum. Teachers must follow the script or be disciplined.
Many curriculums are developed by university professors who have little to no classroom experience and just as little research to back up their work. These professors market and sell their work to publishers or, if they are associated with big institutions such as Columbia Teachers College or Harvard University, they are usually believed to work without question because the names carry so much weight in academia. Often times, as in the case with the failed whole language curriculum from New Zealand, they are created in other countries. Other times, the big publishers (Pearson, Harcourt Brace, Houghton Mifflin, Silver Burdett and Ginn to name a few) use a team of people on staff to develop a curriculum and then pay university professors to sign off on their programs. These publisher-designed curriculums are built along current trends or instructional strategies that are in fashion, as opposed to empirical, research-based/designed curriculums.
Most curriculums are written from an existing paradigm, and can basically be categorized into two camps. One is direct, systematic, explicit instruction (such as phonics), while the other is implicit instruction (such as whole language). Direct, systematic, explicit methods are logical, straightforward, and provide much guidance, whereas…Implicit methods do not provide specific guidance on what is to be learned from the task (Learning Lab, Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center). The latter is the basic paradigm underlying the failed whole language method. The designers of this method believe students implicitly learn to read with little attention paid to phonics (Frank Smith, one of its founders, even went so far as to say that “the alphabet has nothing to do with reading”). Both methods are applied not only to reading, but also writing and math curricula.
There are usually just a handful of alleged experts (sometimes just one person) in charge of buying into the philosophy behind a school district’s curriculum. More often than not, these “experts” have minimal to no classroom experience. Choosing the curriculum for schools can often have little to do with what works, and far more to do with whether or not the curriculum is written by a friend and/or the current trend in academia. These contracts with districts are huge and publishers are in the business of making money. They often cut deals with big school districts, giving away free books in exchange for those contracts. Publishers are in the business of selling, and like to come up with new programs (whether they work or not) so they can continue making more money; they also like to sell their most expensive programs, again, to maximize their profit margin. The amount of money that flows from districts to publishers is huge, and a big secret.
Once a school district buys into a curriculum, no matter how inappropriate or ineffective, teachers must use it without question; those who question the district’s choices are silenced. If he or she chooses to continue questioning, even though reprimanded, he or she will be eventually be disciplined and made an example of by the district. Teachers are not allowed to tell parents that the curriculum chosen is not research-based. They are also not allowed to use any other materials other than the mandated curriculum chosen by the district. When test scores plummet due to poor teaching methods, however, teachers get blamed. With their hands tied and their mouths muted, teachers become the scapegoats, stripped of all power, and therefore unable to make a difference in our children’s lives. The real culprit in all these low test scores, though, can be pinned down to the decision makers at the top who are forcing teachers to be quiet and use poorly written curriculums in their classroom.
However, these individuals are never held accountable before the Board of Education or public for the poor choices they make for our students. When test scores go down, these Curriculum Directors sit back in their offices without any consequences whatsoever to the choices they’ve made, the taxpayers money they’ve spent, and the results they’ve promised but haven’t delivered. Teachers, who are on the front lines, wind up taking the blame for this mismanagement of power and knowledge. Clearly, there is a disconnect between the decision makers and the consequences of those decisions in our schools.
A good example of this is the Bloomberg administration’s implementation of Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Workshop Model from Columbia University for reading, writing and spelling instruction in all New York City Schools. Teacher’s College is clearly a repackaging of whole language, and was written by Lucy Calkins, who is a huge advocate of the failed whole language method. Lucy happened to be a close friend of Diana Lam, who was the deputy chancellor of New York City public schools when Bloomberg took office.
Another poor choice was the Everyday Math Program (known as Fuzzy Math because it’s so difficult to understand, even for teachers) implemented by this administration. Both programs are neither direct, systematic, nor explicit, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that these methods would not work with our student population, yet the powers-that-be missed this fact. These programs are in line with the current trends of academia, with Everyday Math or Chicago Math sourced from Arne Duncan’s (U.S. Secretary of Education) city and, of course, Columbia College, which is supposed to be putting out the best teaching practices in the world.
When these curriculums came into our schools, every other good, solid instructional method was thrown out; literally, dumpsters were filled with good programs teachers were forbidden to use. The vast majority of our public schools were purged of any other method and, although there was a huge outcry from teachers (mostly senior tenured teachers who knew this new method was going to fail), they were quickly silenced. These teachers were forced to use this “new method” with the threat that disciplinary action would take place in the form of insubordination if they refused to follow the script.
Teacher’s College, or TC as some refer to it, and Everyday Math, have many poor pedagogical techniques. For the first 4-6 years of using TC in New York City, teachers were forbidden to use any phonics instruction, even though all reading research clearly shows that phonemic awareness is the single most important predictor of whether a child will learn to read or not, with this ability clearly connected to their chances of overall success. (Note: eventually New York City did add Month By Month Phonics, a program highly criticized for its lack of systematic instruction on how to break down words, i.e., decoding)
Ever since implementation of the TC model, teachers have had to make “leveled libraries” in classrooms for their kids; all bulletin boards and chalkboards are now covered; children have to sit on the rug and be taught in groups; and classroom desks must face each other so students can “collaborate.” (What lecture have you ever gone to where the people are facing each other?) This seating arrangement is a classroom management nightmare. Obviously there’s a lot of form in Teacher’s College curricula but little function in terms of results.
Everyday Math changes topics daily, rotating new concepts in and out of curriculum, which is a very confusing format for students. The lesson initially cited in this article, where I did fractions with fifth graders, had equivalent fractions, comparing sizes of fractions, and mixed numbers one day, while the next day the kids were adding fractions, then the next day decimals, and the next day prime factorization. This is too much for kids to handle and not enough practice for them to learn and master the basics.
The Department of Education (DOE) in New York City requires that special education classrooms use this same curriculum that failed them in general education, and absolutely no one is allowed to deviate. Common sense tells us that if a curriculum was not working for students in general education it probably won’t work in special education. At the least, teachers ought to be allowed to try a different curriculum with these students to yield better results but, alas, they are not allowed. Private special education schools, which are popping up all over Manhattan, use good solid explicit curriculum with their students. If parents can prove that the implicit curriculum is not working for their children, then the DOE has to foot the bill to send those children to these private special education schools, sometimes to the tune of $80,000 a year per student. And we wonder where our money is going!
If you think this is just New York City, you’re wrong; Columbia’s Teacher’s College Model (by Lucy Calkins) has long tentacles reaching into every school district in our country. The Teacher’s College method (which is really whole language) infiltrates the publishing companies who create and model their curriculums after this program because it sells. Everyday Math, or some other Fuzzy Math such as TERC Investigations, are often the choices of many school districts, even the wealthier ones. Why? Because it’s trendy, gets a lot of press, and whatever the status quo is using is often interpreted as what works – especially if it comes from the renowned Teacher’s College. Yet students are suffering under these poorly-designed programs, which may tickle someone’s fancy at the university level or in the district office, but simply don’t work in the classroom.
Indeed, curriculums come and go in school districts like the flavor of the day in an ice cream parlor. Teachers, have NO control as to what instructional method must be implemented in their classrooms, yet somehow they are held accountable for test scores. Can you imagine dictating to a lawyer his method of argumentation? Or a doctor his method of treatment? Yet, this is exactly what goes on in our classrooms each day, all over this country. This is the main reason why our system is so broken.
Start by abolishing the curriculum director position(s) altogether (there, I just saved your district anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000 in salaries per year!) A team of parents and senior teachers should be involved in the curriculum choices for your schools, because professionals, both real and alleged, should not be the only individuals involved in choosing curriculum. Curriculum directors have basically the same training as any teacher except that most of them haven’t spent enough time in the classroom to know what works. School districts can learn from home schoolers who are picking great curriculum for their kids and, I might add, outscoring their public school peers (consider that Everyday Math and Teacher’s College are rarely, if ever, the chosen curriculums for homeschooling by parents with any degree of rational or logical discernment).
If a teacher is going to be accountable for his or her test scores then it only follows that he or she should be allowed to pick the method of teaching to his or her students, keeping in mind that content is dictated by common core standards. These standards are set out by each state and in general are the same for each state. A good curriculum will meet and exceed all standards set forth, and the parent-teacher teams would have to make sure their curriculum choices meet these standards (that is, by covering the material required for each grade). There is also a wonderful set of standards which are specific and clearly laid out by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. in his Core Knowledge Standards, which are rigorous and precise because they are empirically based. It is my opinion that every school district should use it, thus raising the bar of required academic literacy in our schools.
The best curriculum is always direct, systematic and explicit. Let’s leave fuzzy implicit instruction to college years after our students have good solid foundations in the fundamentals, and are therefore equipped to draw informed conclusions. A good curriculum can make up for a fair amount of the deficits in teacher preparation because these programs are well-built and actually train the teachers in proper instruction. There are curriculums that work beyond our expectations in all classrooms with all populations. I am a huge advocate and champion of Sing, Spell, Read & Write by Sue Dickson. This is a complete beginning-literacy curriculum for grades K-1 that has helped to produce tens of thousands of fluent, independent readers. It reflects a unique 36—step system of carefully sequenced instruction that combines music and multimodal teaching strategies that were developed and classroom tested for more than 25 years. The program features the scientifically-based principles of balanced reading instruction that include phonemic awareness; systematic, explicit, intensive phonics reinforced with connected decodable text; multiple readings to provide practice and build fluency; and comprehension strategies that help develop higher-order thinking skills. The key to this program is the use of rhyming songs set to age-appropriate music to teach over 40 phonemes (the most basic sounds of a given language). The songs in this program transform the monotonous work of memorization into a quick and easy process. I would challenge any other program against a SSR&W classroom to produce the same high-quality results; in fact, I did just this when Mayor Bloomberg came into office but he did not take me up on my challenge. Another good reading program is Orton-Gillingham; although a bit drier than Sing, Spell, Read & Write (in terms of maintaining student attention and participation), this program can still get the job done. You might also want to look into LindaMood Bell’s Seeing Stars, again a better choice for schools than implicit-based learning methods.
Two great math curriculums which are direct, systematic and explicit are Saxon Math and Singapore Math (yes, from Singapore). These choices make teaching math direct, systematic and academically rigorous, and when high standards are met our students learn. There is plenty of practice in each one of these programs to allow for students to learn and grow. Another great program for teaching math basics is Musical Math Facts by Sue Dickson. I use this with my students to teach them basic math facts, which must become automatic. Again, rhyming songs set to fun music is both scientifically sound and a wonderful teaching tool.
For writing, school districts should again choose direct, systematic and explicit instruction. While Sing, Spell, Read & Write primarily teaches students to read and spell, Basic Writing Skills by Dr. Judith Hochman is a curriculum used to teach the mechanics of writing fundamentals such as sentence, syntax, paragraph, and essay structure. Andrew Pudewa’s Excellence in Writing is also quite good, incorporating the memorization of poetry to increase linguistic development. This is a great technique, and of course has been practiced for years in classrooms of old, where memorization of key poems, scriptures and documents were required. For grammar, I like Kathy Troxel’s Grammar Songs, again a direct, systematic program providing tremendous support for the understanding and memorization of key concepts. Structured, accurate grammar is absolutely essential, and ought to be a part of every school system’s curricula.
Once solid curriculums are chosen, then teachers must be trained and retrained in the programs. Don’t rely on big publishers for training; often they don’t thoroughly understand their own programs and therefore cannot provide in-depth training. Get specialists who know the programs you’ve chosen and who will train your teachers to get results. Supervisors (i.e., school administrators) also need to be knowledgeable in order to oversee the implementation and success of the programs. Pre-testing in September and post-testing in June ought to be done with norm-referenced standardized tests (the Gates MacGinitie is a great test) so that we can see how our students are doing compared to the rest of the country, not just the state. Progress must be made by all students - if not, take a good look at the curriculum and get rid of it if it’s not working, and then get something that does work. Please don’t sit for years with curricula that doesn’t work, because children will continue to suffer long after they “graduate.”
Good curriculums work with general education or special education. If we use multi-sensory programs, we can reach all our students, not just those who come to us prepared to learn. Test prep and test scores are not a problem if we use good curriculum in our classrooms with well-trained teachers. We don’t have to be obsessed with test prep because we can relax and know that all of our students will meet and exceed any tests given. Having your district armed with good curriculum helps ensure maximum learning and leaves no child behind. After all, isn’t that what we want from our schools? Parents must understand that teachers can only make a big difference in their children’s lives if they are using the absolute best curriculum in their classrooms. Teachers and parents working together can and must step up to the plate and tell the curriculum directors of their districts to move over. This is a new game and we’re playing it to win!
If you are looking something that is not here, please feel free to contact me, Christine D’Amico (800) 541-3245 or firstname.lastname@example.org
American Federation Of Teachers Summer 1995 American Educator Magazine: Learning To Read -Schooling’s First Mission
Grammar/American History/World History (add these to your grammar and history curriculum to facilitate memory of important facts)
Sing, Spell, Read & Write 1998 version (better than 2004)
About Teachers College: (Diana Lam and Lucy Calkins)
About the author
Christine D’Amico holds a BA in French with an Elementary Education minor, and an MA in Elementary Ed and Children’s Literature. She has been an Educator in New York City Public Schools since 1990, while prior to this she was a Systems Analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein. Christine studied French pedagogy at the Ecole Normale Du Calvados in Caen, France and continues to work with her French colleagues formapex.com to bring direct, systematic, instructional methods into French classrooms. She has taught first through fifth grade and held positions in elementary schools as a Reading Remediation Teacher, Reading Specialist, French Teacher, Drama Teacher, and is a New York City Teacher of the Year. In addition to working for the New York City DOE in summer school, after-school, and Saturday Academy, Christine operates her own private tutoring companies, Excel Tutoring and ABC-Write Start Read! Inc., along with a curriculum consulting firm, Expert Curriculum and Instruction, Inc. You can visit her website at abcwritestartread.com or see her on YouTube at youtube.com/user/abcwritestartread?feature=mhum.