"Almost a Third Grader" gives students a head start

WOODBURY, Minn. - Liz Brown's third graders at Middleton Elementary in Woodbury are gathered around her, listening spellbound as she reads a book about a child's moral dilemma over a plan to kidnap a dog.

Some of the students got a head start on reading comprehension this summer, not to mention math and science with a new website, "Almost a Third Grader."

It's the brainchild of another Middleton teacher, Megan Zachman.

"The summer was coming up and it came about it would be really neat to create video lessons for my students so that they could keep their skills and maintain their skills throughout the summer," explained Zachman.

Zachman teaches second grade, and she knows third grade is an important year for students. Math and reading become more complex. It's also the year students are measured on their progress for state standards.

Danae Timmerman's daughter, Maren, used the site over the summer with positive results.

"First of all, Maren stayed engaged throughout the summer," said Timmerman, who added her other three children, who did not have similar lessons at their disposal, did not fare so well.

Barbara Siefken said her son also enjoyed the site. "Children can go in at their leisure," she said, "they can pick and choose which (lessons) they like."

Zachman created 36 video lessons to last the summer. Each one took about five hours of her own time to create each one. She credits her teaching team for helping her out when she needed it.

"Almost a Third Grader" is a free program anyone can use. Zachman says not only is it a way for second graders to maintain their skills during the summer, she envisions it as a site where third graders can also review skills as they tackle new challenges.

Zachman's site is also available on Pinterest.


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