This Year’s Priorities
Part II. Literacy
This year marks the fourth year of a multi-year initiative to enhance the literacy program.
A major focus for 2014-15 continues to be in grades 3-5. Last year, these teachers participated in 40 hours of intensive building-based professional development to support their implementation of a model recommended by the Literacy Collaborative at Lesley University. This year, teachers will continue with an additional 20 hours of training led by Dianne Muendel, our Literacy Coach. Dianne also provides 1:1 coaching of teachers on a biweekly basis (Even the best golfers have a swing coach!). Dianne also continues to co-teach literacy in one classroom, collaborating this year with Karla Cunha-Cardoso in fourth grade after teaching in third and fifth grades the two previous years.
What does this mean for students? The most notable changes include an increase in the amount of time devoted to literacy instruction (2 hours per day), more consistent use of a common framework (reading and writing workshop), and an increased emphasis on focused, connected mini-lessons built around a mini-lesson statement or key idea. They also receive targeted small group instruction and individual conferences with the teacher. Students are demonstrating a higher level of engagement and stamina during both reading and writing. They are expanding the range of genres in their reading and writing. They are deepening their comprehension within, about and beyond the text.
We are also expanding the professional development and coaching to grades 6-8 where Dianne will work with our two middle school English teachers to pilot implementation of reading and writing workshop model within a middle school schedule.
Meanwhile, in grades K-2, teachers have identified a focus area for professional learning and implementation (K: Word Study, Interactive Read Alouds & Writing Workshop; Gr. 1-2 Writing: Looking at Student Work). Each grade is working with one of our three literacy specialists (K – Jill Demsey, Gr. 1 – Terry Jewell, and Gr. 2 – Pam Tully).
Reading Assessment (Benchmark Assessment System or BAS)
The BAS is an individually administered reading assessment, now its third year of use in Brookline. In grades 1-5, all students are assessed twice a year (October & March). In Kindergarten, students will be assessed in March. In grades 6-8, students who did not score “Proficient” on MCAS are also assessed. Teachers use this assessment to get to know their students’ strengths and weaknesses as readers and to set goals and plan for instruction.
Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)
The Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) program will enter its fourth year of providing more intensive support to struggling readers. Literacy Specialists Jill Demsey and Terry Jewell teach students in groups of three or four, five days a week for thirty minutes (four days x 45 minutes in Gr. 3-5). Most students who participate in LLI demonstrate strong gains in their reading. We will offer two parent information sessions during the year for parents to learn more about this program.
Lawrence Literacy Team
The Literacy Team will continue its leadership role in overseeing the revised scheduling and time allocations for English Language Arts, supporting the professional learning, facilitating the analysis and use of BAS and other data to monitor progress and plan instruction, supporting teachers in the implementation of new Progress Reports (formerly Conference Reports), and assessing the use of LLI and the role of other literacy interventions. The team will also coordinate the “Lawrence Reads” community event and provide opportunities for parent education about supporting literacy learning at home.
This work in literacy demonstrates our faculty’s commitment to continuous improvement and will enhance student learning through a more focused use of time, as well as the development of students’ stamina, skills, and thinking abilities as readers and writers.