Teacher Spotlight: Lisa Sportell at Three Oaks Public School Academy

Lisa Sportell is a first grade teacher at Three Oaks Public School Academy.

What keeps your students aiming for success in the classroom?

Students aim for success with their behavior in the classroom daily because while I implement my behavior chart, students have the ability to earn a reward at the end of the day. Students can also earn a homework prize weekly. One way I help students aim for success in reading is by constantly adding more books of different reading levels that students are interested in. Students can only read books that are one level below, on level, or one level above. Their levels are posted so they have a visual reminder of the next level they are aiming to reach, which pushes them to master their levels to advance to new books, levels, and goals.

How do you remind your students of the expectations you have?

To remind students about what is expected of them, I have colorful visuals on the walls that state the expectations. I also verbally remind students of what is expected before starting an activity.

Your students seem to take an active part in the classroom. In what ways are they active in their learning?

Students are active in their own learning by completing leveled tasks to advance to the next level in the areas of reading and math. In programs such as MobyMax and Raz-Kids, students push themselves to successfully pass levels for the ability to gain access to the next level and fun activities that go along with it. Students also take an active part in class during science. They enjoying exploring and coming to conclusions about the topics we are learning.

With such independent students, how do you incorporate teamwork into your classroom?

I incorporate teamwork daily. Students are paired based on levels during centers, two high students with two lower students. The students work together and help when needed on activities. If a student finished early, they know the next activities to go to, such as reading on their level, MobyMax, Raz-Kids, or other hands on activities.

In what ways do you build a family-like atmosphere in your classroom?

Our classroom has a family-like atmosphere because we have created and agreed to a class contract that includes treating ourselves and others with respect. We accept that we each make mistakes and we acknowledge and appreciate apologies. The classroom is setup so it is warm and welcoming, including pillows, rugs, and learning centers.  

What’s the secret ingredient?

One of my ingredients to a successful classroom is to end each day reminding students that tomorrow is a new day, and we always start fresh. This helps students who had a rough day to know that they have the opportunity to start over the next day.

How do you keep your students interested in learning?

I create hands on, interactive ways to learn. Students use colorful, hands on materials daily along with computer based activities. They are engaged and are challenged at their levels.

How are creativity and innovative thinking used on a daily basis in your classroom?

I encourage creativity and innovative thinking daily during our writing and math activities. I’ve given students magazines and had them find a picture to write about. Students then were able to come up with stories for their picture that incorporated real life experiences while using their imagination. During math times, manipulatives are readily available for students to use while problem solving.