LaVelda’s Story

LaVelda’s Story
LaVelda and a student work on a lesson. 

Asking Real Questions to Get Real Answers

When most teachers are enjoying a summer break, LaVelda is hard at work teaching her summer school students. She is unfazed by the isolation that comes with teaching in a high school in the Navajo Nation because she focuses all of her energy on student success. Before LaVelda discovered CommonLit, it was incredibly hard for her to procure the books and materials that her students needed. She was forced to either drive 99 miles to the closest town or wait weeks for them to be delivered.

Students who went most of their academic careers resenting English class are coming into LaVelda’s classroom now accustomed to feeling successful.

When she discovered CommonLit, she no longer felt cut-off from needed curriculum resources. “Not only was I craving these technology tools, but my students were as well!”

CommonLit revolutionized her practice as she was able to shift her curriculum to a more student-centered instruction. This past year she focused on student choice, inquiry, discovery, and giving quick feedback. Grading reading assessments in the days before CommonLit took ages — now it’s instantaneous.

“One student in particular, Coriana, loved that I could instantly see her results.” LaVelda would communicate privately and quickly with Coriana so she could make improvements. LaVelda realized that this quick feedback was an incredibly powerful lever to help students make quick progress.

Students who went most of their academic careers resenting English class are coming into LaVelda’s classroom now accustomed to feeling successful. Two of her “fifth-year” seniors felt empowered when they received their first B’s in their high school careers. When Miguel realized that he was consistently scoring over 80% on his CommonLit score report, he said in disbelief, “I didn’t even know I could do that!”

Gone are the days of LaVelda wondering whether or not students actually mastered key skills, now “students walk in the door, get right to work, and I can spend a whole class working with small groups or individuals giving each of them quick and tailored feedback.” That is, of course, on the days her students aren’t running passionate discussions around their units’ essential questions.

LaVelda stands in front of classroom. 

LaVelda feels encouraged at the end of her lessons. Her students are being set up for success in college and in life. To top it all off, she saw the highest gains in reading scores from her students ever. The majority of her students grew by at least 5 points on their AZmerits* and many with significant gains of up to 20 points.

Her enthusiasm for her students is clear. Even during summer school, she is eager to see her students’ work. “I’m so excited for their inquiry projects next week! Now they have their own purpose, now they have real questions to answer.”

*This is the Arizona State Assessment, a 20 point increase is enough for a proficiency increase (Example: Proficient to Highly Proficient)