In many schools across the country, teachers have turned to Books That Grow to reach their struggling readers. However, Meg Weiss, a 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher at Bronxville Middle School in New York’s Westchester County, faced a different problem: continuously challenging her advanced students who are reading above grade level.
Bronxville is a nationally recognized district with top-performing students. “Most of my students come to me highly prepared and highly motivated,” said Ms. Weiss. “This allows me to keep the level of rigor high for the whole class, but some of my students are so many years ahead that they can still become bored and disengaged.”
With Books That Grow, Ms. Weiss found a new way to meet this challenge. “By picking texts in in the app that include very hard versions, I can keep those students challenged without losing everyone else.”
For Ms. Weiss, this often means using a primary source document, like My Escape From Slavery by Frederick Douglass, which she incorporated into a unit on memoir and the conventions of life-writing. “This is a 19th Century account of slavery in Baltimore , and so the text is very challenging. But my more-advanced students were able to dive right into the original text, and they loved it.”
At the same time, her less-advanced students were able to extract the same key information from a easier-to-read versions of the text. This allowed them to participate in a thoughtful give-and-take on how slavery differed across states. "For me,” said Ms. Weiss, “this is a huge help, because I want my less-advanced students to learn from my more-advanced students. That can't happen when my more-advanced students are disengaged."
Meg Weiss has been an educator for over ten years. Prior to teaching at Bronxville, she taught at Ramapo High School in Spring Valley, NY for five years. Meg earned her B.A. in English from the University of Rochester, and went on to earn both an M.A. in English Education from Teachers College at Columbia University and an M.A. in Adolescent Special Education from Lehman College.