Students began their day with our nutritional routine of healthy juice and bananas and catching up with each other. Our students then focused on the task of studying vocabulary words and taking their two quizzes as part of their goal to increase their understanding and use of college level words, especially in various contexts.

We were delighted to welcome Ms. Joann Levin, English and writing teacher at the McLean School of Maryland, who led the group in an amazing session on SAT Essay Writing Skills. The students learned about paragraph and argument structure, how to write an introduction, thesis statement and to complete their thoughts with supporting facts. They also learned how to create a hook to grab the reader with a statement, definition, or a quote.

In the next program section, students read two examples of well written introduction paragraphs and explained what they thought were the strengths of each paragraph. They followed this activity with actual practice with a given prompt using a graphic organizer. Finally, they worked on the structure and outline of the remaining essay.

Everyone was most grateful for the in-depth tutorial offered by Ms. Levin and they kept the numerous helpful handouts as guides for their school assignments and college application practice writings.

Students enjoyed a delightful lunch from Panera’s and celebrated February birthdays with delicious cake. We also celebrated Reading Plus awards for monthly readers and everyone who increased by a reading level.

The afternoon was spent with a fun and social collage activity in which students cut out magazine pictures that described what was most important to them in life. These pictures were pasted to poster boards and further augmented with drawings and personal statements. Students then wrote a paragraph that explained their art pieces by using the graphic organizer they had learned earlier in the day. Students edited each other’s paragraphs by making helpful suggestions to improve and expand on ideas. The posters were exhibited around the room and the students enjoyed a “gallery walk” to see what their peers had created and hear explanations of the photo and design choices. It was so much fun to hear the laughter and feel the wonderful camaraderie that filled the room.

The last hour of the day was spent meeting personally with mentors, cleaning up the room and preparing for departure. Everyone left with good spirits, stronger writing skills and better understanding of themselves regarding personal strengths and values. We are all looking forward to our next gathering on March 7th!