On a stormy morning at the sprawling Second Street School on the edge of the Kentucky River in Frankfort, teacher Samantha Sams is working her way from room to room, challenging small groups of students with tasks that build on their regular lessons.

Surrounded by third graders going over a reading passage, Sams is working through the descriptive vocabulary asking the students about words like “pelting” and “winding” — what they mean and how they enhance the text.

An hour later, Sams is at the head of a table of second graders as they explain in writing how to solve a subtraction problem. While some describe place value, others try to find the right words to sum up borrowing or work out a concise explanation of what subtraction is. Sams juggles the answers to students’ questions with her own inquiries designed to clarify their statements or corral stray thoughts (continued)…

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