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Mary Ellen Bower

Teacher Bio
Mary Ellen Bower, a Boston Public School Lead Teacher, has taught elementary and high school classes for more than thirty years. As School to Career Coordinator at West Roxbury High, a Massachusetts Service Learning Leader School, she leads a TeachBoston career pathway course. Mary Ellen has received a Golden Apple and the Harvard Book Award for teachers and frequently conducts literacy and career workshops. She and her students, recipients of Fleet's All-Stars 2000 award for community service, have testified before the Massachusetts State Legislature and present at statewide Department of Education conferences.

Subject Areas
Language Arts, Technology, Career Education

Grade Levels
K- 12

Partnerships between High & Elementary Schools


Literacy Leaders ~ Cross-School Mentoring


Key Question How can high schoolers create a Service Learning program of reading to younger children?

Overview Using the latest technology, high schoolers launch cross-school tutoring by scheduling five Read Aloud sessions with their elementary school Book Buddies. With children as their audience, older students interact in a REAL environment to raise their own learning standards and learn by teaching. Reflection Journals help them understand the mentoring experience. A Literacy Poster Contest, and a Teacher Shadowship Day open doors to literacy competencies and teaching as a career.

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Investigate, practice & critique each other's read aloud techniques.
Write Hints for Reading Aloud (or download, 367 KB). Include in a computer slide show.
Search appropriate literature on Internet & complete Literature Review on six children's books.
Create Reflection Journals addressing books, materials, student profiles, & activities.
Write a reading letter to parents of young children.
Organize & conduct Literacy Poster Contest.
Identify school & schedule Read Aloud sessions with students via e-mail.
During Read Aloud sessions, stress importance of reading to children.
Share excerpts from Reflection Journals with children.
Encourage them to reflect on books they read.
Share Reading letters with parents of younger children.
Present computer slide show during Parents' Night & statewide Service Learning conference.
Plan a schoolwide Teacher Shadowship Day.
Collaborate on letter requesting permission to visit classrooms.
Respond to Key Questions after classroom visits.
Reflect on teaching as a career in journals.
Adapt School-to-Career Competencies for elementary students.
Plan & host activities for faculty during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards English Language Arts
Understand and effectively employ the writing process.
Conduct effective discussions.
Employ different uses of technology to complete and enhance work.

School to Career Competencies

Develop Communication and Literacy Skills.
Communicate and understand ideas and information.
Use technology.
Initiate and complete entire activities.
Act professionally.
Take responsibility for career and life choices.


Students and teacher share Reflection Journals and Literature Review Did I? Sheets after each session. They use rubrics to evaluate Key Questions, products, and presentations.

Software or Materials Used For literature on mentoring Read Aloud sessions: Read Aloud Handbook 1995: Penguin Books by James Trelease; New Teachers Handbook and Experienced Teachers Handbook By Teachers For Teachers, Teachers Network; for Read Aloud sessions and poster contest: assorted children's books, journals, art supplies.

Teacher Developed Materials Guidelines and rubrics for Literary Poster Contest, Letter about Teacher Shadowship Day, Literature Review Did I Sheet and Rubric, Rubrics for scoring Key Questions, products, and presentations.

Student Developed Materials Hints for Reading Aloud, Computer Slide Show, Reading Letter to Parents, Reflection Journals, Adaptation of School to Career Competencies, Literature Review of children's books.

Web Sites Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators, The Teachers Network, American Library Association Notable Children's Books, Future Educators of America, New Teachers Resources

Final Words This project addresses literacy - how students become life long learners, how they communicate the importance of reading to younger children, how they acquire parenting skills for a future generation of readers. The Teacher Shadowship Day easily transfers to other careers.

Teacher Tip Time management skills are important when working with cross-school projects. Faced with scheduling and organizing Read Aloud sessions, students show improved communication skills.

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