Research to Practice

Transforming Learning in Content Classrooms

2015-07-21_15-06-48In January of 2015, High Progress Literacy Associates and Hampton District One fourth grade teachers, coaches, and instructional leaders embarked on a project to engage all fourth grade students in learning how to learn science and history in the same way that scientists, engineers, historians, and economists engage with content in their domains.

In this R2P conference session, we tell the story of our learning and familiarize participants with the basic, recursive literacy practices fourth graders in HSD1 are learning to use to construct understandings in science and social studies.

Explore the session presentation and view and download session materials. Questions? Contact us at .

“OK, I’m a believer, and I’ll testify! And you know I didn’t want to do this HPL stuff, especially starting in the middle of the year! But I already see the difference these practices are making for my kids. They’re all working harder than they ever have. My gifted kids are learning to dig deeper and stretch farther, and my resource kids feel empowered because they are learning how to learn by reading, explaining, and taking notes.”

-HSD1 Fourth Grade Teacher

Explore our presentation slides in this Prezi. Once you start the Prezi, you can enter full screen mode by clicking on the full screen icon in the bottom right corner of the presentation. Click the arrows to advance.

Here you may download any of the materials used in the presentation. These include the literature review supporting high progress literacy practices, information about growth and fixed mindsets, resources for observing and planning time use, and other materials about HPL processes and practices.

Conference Presenter Bios

DSC_0948-001Jennifer Young is the founder and lead associate of High Progress Literacy Associates.With over 30 years of experience in literacy education in South Carolina, Jennifer worked for 13 years with the SC Department of Education as s Literacy Specialist, RTI Specialist, and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, and for 17 years as a district Language Arts Coordinator, school Curriculum Resource Teacher, Reading Recovery teacher and Teacher Leader, and classroom teacher in grades three and kindergarten. Her work with schools now focuses on collaborating with teachers and administrators to implement specific classroom practices that lead to high-progress outcomes described in the research on engaged reading, writing, and achievement.  Ms. Young began working with Hampton District One in January, providing onsite coaching and support in fourth grade classrooms across the district, and focused professional development through an SCDE-approved R2S Content Reading and Writing course to help teachers and school leaders transform learning across the curriculum. For more information, visit 

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Bonnie J. Wilson was the Principal of Hampton Elementary School when we began the HPL Project. Mrs. Wilson is a winner of the prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, and was selected by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators as an Elementary Principal of the Year finalist. A former English teacher, Mrs. Wilson taught high school for thirteen years before becoming principal of Ben Hazel Primary School (BHPS). During her eight years at Ben Hazel, she and her staff had a track record of success, winning the SC Department of Education’s Exemplary Writing Award twice, as well as the Red Carpet Award, Palmetto Silver Award, and being recognized as an Education Oversight Showcase school multiple times. Ben Hazel Primary was one of only four schools in SC selected by the SC Department of Education to serve as a Response to Intervention Demonstration site. Mrs. Wilson just completed her third year as principal of Hampton Elementary, which serves students in grades four through six. She and her staff are part of the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) and are making strides to implement Response to Intervention. Hampton Elementary partnered with High Progress Literacy Associates because, “The research behind HPL is well documented. This project has improved our instructional practices. Our students are more engaged, motivated, and most importantly, they are more capable readers. They now are more active participants in their own learning as they read closely and construct meaning.” Bonnie is now principal of Wade Hampton High School in Hampton, SC.

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Kristy C. Wood just completed her third year at Hampton Elementary School as Assistant Principal. A native of Hampton County, she holds an Ed.S. in Teaching Excellence from the University of South Carolina Columbia, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from The Citadel. Mrs. Wood has over twenty years of experience in education as an administrator, teacher, and Literacy Coach with the South Carolina Reading Initiative. She was honored by her peers as Varnville Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year, Brunson Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year, and Hampton District One’s District Teacher of the Year. She has worked at the state and national levels as an educational consultant for Educational Resources Group specializing in Early Childhood education and Language & Literacy, and is a certified trainer for the High Scope Educational Foundation and the South Carolina Child Care Center for Career Development. She serves as an adjunct professor for the University of South Carolina, and was a contributing author to Reading Assessment: Artful Teachers, Successful Students published by the National Council of Teachers of English in 2013.

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Michelle Altman welcomed the chance to present at the Research to Practice Conference as an opportunity to share her successful experiences in HPL with other educators. Raised in Jasper County, Ms. Altman has a B.A. in Social Studies/Secondary Education from Columbia College, an Associate of Science in Health Science from Technical College of the Lowcountry, and an M.Ed. in Language and Literacy from the University of South Carolina. She served as Hampton One’s District Teacher of the Year for 2010-2011. Previously a health sciences educator at the high school level, the 2014-15 school year was her second year as an ELA/4th grade teacher and her 12th year in the classroom. As a former high school teacher, she understands why learning how to learn by using reading, writing, speaking and listening as tools for inquiry is so important as students enter middle school, high school, and college. “Changing the classroom model in the middle of year was terrifying! Yet, we were able to successfully adapt to the HPL model, and my students continue to amaze me each day by what they are learning and learning to do. It is exciting to be a part of the implementation of HPL and to witness the lifelong effects on our students.” Next year, Michelle will move back to the high school to teach Biology, but says, “I’m taking all of these practices with me. They work.”

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Erin Freeman Long just completed her fifth year of teaching, and her second year as a fourth grade teacher at Hampton Elementary. She is a native of Hampton County and a graduate of Wade Hampton High School. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from USC Aiken. In addition to teaching 4th grade, Ms. Long has taught kindergarten, adult education, and 6th grade. She wants to share her experiences in implementing HPL practices with other educators because she has seen first hand that these practices have helped her students to become critical thinkers and independent learners. “It was a struggle to begin this close reading journey, and at first I was very reluctant, but I pushed through. Within the first week I could see a huge change in my kids. My gifted students were so engaged because it was challenging, and my students with IEPs were proud to be reading and taking notes on such complex text.” Learning to teach students how to learn by engaging deeply with a range of informational and literary texts has naturally led Ms. Long to begin providing truly differentiated instruction and support for diverse learners through small group and individualized instruction. Next year, Ms. Long will teach fourth grade ELA and Social Studies.

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Shelby Elise Simmons joined the Hampton District One community in the middle of the 2014-15 school year, as the 4th grade Math and Science teacher at Fennell Elementary School. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Limestone College, and two graduate degrees from the University of South Carolina, Columbia: an M.A.T. in Elementary Education, and a M.Ed. in Educational Technology. Ms. Simmons is also an Adjunct Instructor at the Technical College of the Lowcountry. She says, “While math and science might not seem the logical choice for incorporating a literacy-focused model, learning from text is fundamental in today’s society and today’s schools. The opportunity to share with and learn from fellow professionals about high-progress classrooms benefits the teacher as well as the students, the sharer as well as the listener. Despite the challenges of implementing a program mid-year in a brand-new environment, sharing the experience with others offers the opportunity to reflect and critically evaluate the process and progress.” Shelby’s work utilizes her background in business, technology, and education to support student and family success.

For more information about Ms. Simmons, please visit

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Terri Stansfield has been teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th grade math and science for 25 years. This was her second year teaching 4th grade. Ms. Stansfield holds a Bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University and a Masters degree from Lesley University. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at The University of South Carolina’s Salkehatchie Campus. Terri volunteered to be part of this team in order to share what she has learned about incorporating HPL practices in cross-curricular settings and to improve her own level of understanding and proficiency in the area of high progress literacy. “I want people to know that it’s a continual process. Even though there are specific practices that must be in place, it’s not simply a matter of following a checklist. You cannot expect overnight proficiency…it takes time. Yes, it can be frustrating and challenging, but true growth usually is. Helping teachers and students build the stamina necessary to reach and maintain a quality level of reading and writing in every subject approaching 75% of their class time, takes time and effort.” Next year, Ms. Stansfield will teach 6th grade math and science where she plans to continue with HPL practices.

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