Our student, parent, and teacher needs assessments for the 2016-2017 school year indicated the top concern was study skills and organizational habits. This year we started an Academic Habits pilot program in a classroom setting. We targeted two Read 180 classes with the greatest need as demonstrated by grades and Standards of Learning (SOL) scores. Within one class, we noticed that there was a group of students that may need more individualized and specific help. Thus, we decided as a team to create a small group for students in that class that had a grade of C or below in a core class.
The Study Skills group was created to address our third program goal. Most students in Liberty’s population are able to earn A’s and B’s with Tier 1 intervention, so we were able to focus on students with a C or below instead of only those with D’s and F’s. The Study Skills group consisted of 10 students who earned a C or below in at least one core class, and 6 of those students earned a D or F.
An additional component was added to the original survey for the identified small group. The students were asked to highlight two academic areas in which they would like to improve. Based on the results, we determined that the greatest need was in the following four areas: self-advocacy, use of planner, note-taking, and test-taking skills. Each counselor created a lesson plan for one of the topics and incorporated the appropriate academic Mindsets and Behaviors. Perception data was collected from each lesson in the form of exit tickets to assess what students had gained from the activities. Overall, students were able to connect with the topics and identify content that they found helpful, as evidenced by improved grades, or by maintaining their grade in at least one core class. Results showed that 70% of students were able to increase their grade in a core class by at least one letter grade. The data indicated that these lessons are developmentally appropriate and allowed students to connect with a new learning strategy to improve their academics. We will take the results from our small group and continue to look for opportunities to reach out to students each year.
In addition to our study skills group we also led two groups that addressed the social/emotional needs of our students. While study habits and organizational skills were the top concerns on the student needs assessment, friendships and peer relationships were the second largest area of concern. Girl’s Circle was comprised of primarily 7th grade students that were having difficulty adjusting to middle school friendship dynamics. The girls met once a week to work on improving self-esteem and building relationships. Lioness Lair was made up of a majority of 8th grade students who were having difficulty with maintaining friendships. The girls met twice a week to work on a value system to help them improve these relationships. Overall, we tried to incorporate a variety of topics into the small group format throughout the school year.