We’re changing how we teach literacy to 1200 plus students

I’m excited.  

After a lot of research and several conversations with teachers and administrators, we’ve committed as a district to using The Daily Five, Six traits writing, and Words their Way in all our classrooms K-5 starting with the 2014-2015 school year.  This will change how we teach literacy to 1200 plus K-5 students.  It is overwhelming, but I am optimistic as we start this journey together as a  K-5 team across three buildings (PreK-1st, 2nd-3rd, & 4th-5th).  We were able to present this finalized idea to both K-5 teachers and our Board of Education this past week (see link below for the presentation).

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1e2RsjD0wlx6tDwKFFHSvzpSq6jl1yzHypMdsSYQyM5M/edit?usp=sharing

These structures will support differentiation, bring continuity and common language between grade levels, and ensure more active engagement in the activities that will result in the highest growth in students as readers and writers.  In addition, it will give teachers a clear path and vision of our shared commitments while still leaving plenty of flexibility for the unique gifts that each individual teacher brings.  If change or new requirements come down the road, we will have the ability to meet those new challenges without moving to a completely new textbook or other literacy adoption.  

Although I am excited about standardizing word work and working on writing with Words Their Way and Six Traits, I am most excited about the Daily Five.  As we looked closely at our practices in the classroom, a small percentage of our time during literacy was spent on students actually engaged in reading and writing.  We tend to complicate things in education, but it doesn’t take an expert to know that students won’t improve as readers and writers unless they spend a lot of time reading and writing.  The Daily Five is a tried and true approach that supports that very thing backed both by the research and the practical experience of teachers all over the nation.  

I share the concern that this is a lot to tackle at once, but rather than seeking perfection, we are asking our teams to commit to this journey together understanding it will be a long one.  Rather than seeking brand new ideas outside of the collective wisdom of our district, all of these structures are currently being used with success by our own teachers.  This allows us to let the most effective practices rise to the top as we continue to strive to be a Professional Learning Community (PLC).  As we continue our journey of implementation, we can utilize the expertise within our own buildings and make sure all our professional development and our resources are focused on our highest goals.

How are you meeting the challenge to help your students become the readers, writers, and thinkers of tomorrow?  I would love to hear from anyone with words of wisdom to share in these areas!

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