“Captain Happy”

Patricia Busby
Fifth-grade ELA teacher, Dixieland Elementary School, Polk County, FL

With a great diversity of students with reading ranges from 2.8 to 12.2, academic teaming allowed all of my students to write and have powerful discussions on the topic. The most amazing standard was using evidence to support an author’s statement. I had my lowest group (Level 1’s) gather evidence from a grade level informational passage and were able to carry on a valid discussion, on how the evidence used supported what the author stated, with the highest group (level 5’s). The spokesperson, which was named “Captain Happy” was strategically given to the student with the most negative disposition. This was the most powerful moment all year. I had a student who would throw things, cry, and run out of the class all to escape the task. Congrats to him because he became the “Captain Happy”. His entire being changed. He was engaged, encouraged others, helpful, caring and most importantly believed in himself, saw himself as an equal when he was always the lowest. He could carry on a discussion with the highest in the class on a 12.2 based on evidence he found and would ask the other groups, “and where did you find your evidence because I found data that supports how China has more pollution than any other country in the world. This was truly magical and had teachers, our reading coach, and our administrators talking about the change in this students and how much he had grown academic’s and social skills. Academic teaming made it happen, without it he would not have had a successful 5th grade year, what a way to end his elementary years. Thank you!!