Amplify – Boost Close Reading 101

What is Amplify reading?

Amplify is the new reading platform (the umbrella company) that the OJCS purchased licences for this year to use as a pilot project to enhance our current reading programs. We bought three programs for our school through Amplify, each explained below.

  1. mClass – DIBELS 8 assessment 
  2. Boost Reading 
  3. Boost Close Reading

Why did we choose Amplify? 

It is the platform that most closely aligns with the evidence-based body of research referred to as the ‘Science of Reading’. The Science of Reading research shows the need for students to have word recognition skills (such as phonemic awareness, decoding skills through phonics, and reading fluency) and language comprehension (including knowledge of vocabulary, morphology, and syntax) in order to read and comprehend text. 

Boost Close Reading is the reading program licence we purchased for our students in Grades 6-8. Boost Close Reading brings students through a dystopian world called The Last Reader. It was designed using foundational and research-based pedagogical strategies to grab students’ attention and teach them essential reading concepts and strategies for approaching complex texts. The driving principles are to: 

  1. Employ a student-centred, interactive digital platform with timely feedback and formative assessment. 
  2. Engage students with compelling storytelling in a powerful narrative. 
  3. Target sophisticated reading skills that help students to dissect, consider, and construct their own argumentative and narrative texts.

The Last Readers draws students into a dystopian world where all instruction, practice, and embedded assessment is couched in a compelling story line and visually rich graphic novel universe. In many missions, students create content, such as propaganda messages, which will later appear in comics throughout the story. Additionally, students participate in a variety of “choose-your-own-adventure” interactions, giving them the opportunity to direct and influence the narrative.

Boost Close Reading teaches 22 units of different literary and informational topics and reading techniques, which offer students an opportunity to engage with complex texts in a deep and meaningful way. This skill is needed in all content areas. Each unit covers a different approach to engage with complex texts and includes content and topics that alternate between informational and literary concepts.

What will I see as a parent on report cards?

On the report card, I will share how your child is performing on a specific reading comprehension strategy by indicating the percentage score they received, and how this compares to the national average. 

Novel Study Time

Middle School Students have finally started their first novel studies and so far students are hooked! Grade 6’s started reading Ghost, a coming of age novel about a young boy obsessed with world records. Grade 7 students have started reading The Outsiders, a novel that touches on some heavy themes including in vs out, family, friendship, colour, and social class. While Grade 8 students started Steinbeck’s classic, Of Mice and Men a novel that really dives deep into an unlikely friendship. Please note that all students have a hard copy of their respective novels, but digital versions have been posted on both Google Classroom and the Homework Boards as well.

Happy reading!!!

10 Tips for an AWESOME Presentation

Grade 6 students are working on their very first Middle School oral presentations. Our upcoming novel study, Ghost by Jason Reynolds focuses on the journey the protagonist takes to achieve a world record. Thus, students, individually or in small groups, were asked to research a world record that was completed within the last decade that “wowed” them. The choices are diverse! However, with any oral presentation, comes a visual, or what I like to call, an accessory. Students learnt what makes a slide impactful, what makes a slide messy and confusing, and what colours and fonts to use to grab the audience’s attention. Here are the 10 tips and tricks we focused on.

Amplify Boost

This week Middle School English Language Arts students had the opportunity to explore our new reading program, Amplify. This program allows students to read closely by following an interactive graphic novel. Students enjoyed the first step of the program which was designing their very own avatar. This exercise was followed by a dynamic and engaging chapter one featuring the student as the main character. Feedback thus far has been very positive!

Truth & Reconciliation Day

Today, albeit a day early, we wear orange shirts for National Truth & Reconciliation Day. We honour the innocent children who never returned home,  the survivors of the many Residential Schools and their families. #everychildmatters

Although not part of our immediate ELA curriculum, I felt it was important to pause our regular programming to study some media texts pertaining to these atrocious events that happened not so long ago.

Grade 6 & 7s read When I was Eight, a short story about a young girl who desperately wanted to learn how to read.

Grade 8s took a deep dive into Gord Downie’s Secret Path. Downie began “Secret Path as ten poems incited by the story of Chanie Wenjack, a twelve year-old boy who died fifty years ago on October 22, 1966, in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario, walking home to the family he was taken from over 400 miles away.”

Special thanks to Mme Marie Jose, of the Metis people for her support and contributions.


Reading Buddies are BACK

Our Grade 6s enjoyed their first Reading Buddy session yesterday. Students were paired with students in Grade 1 to spend 30 minutes reading together. What a great opportunity for the “Littles” to meet the “Bigs” and develop literacy together.


We need to be organized! This year, there will be a heavy focus across the Middle School on organization. This week, many students received paper agendas, a tool, I personally use to stay organized. Other students chose the more “on trend” approach by going digital. These students received a crash course on Google Calendar, Google Keep and more. Bonus marks will be given to students who show how using their agenda (throughout the year) has attributed to their success.