I have plans…

plan

noun \ˈplan\

a :  a method for achieving an end

b :  an often customary method of doing something :  procedure

c :  a detailed formulation of a program of action

d :  goal, aim

 

I’ve always been known as a planner. I’m the family planner for my husband and two boys, one of the first to plan a getaway or event with friends, and I have a hard time accepting that there isn’t always a plan. When it comes to planning fun events, you don’t need to put much more thought into it than FUN. However, when planning a Literacy Action Plan for a school you have much more to consider. “School leaders must develop a data-based literacy action plan that they will actively use to guide ongoing decisions about instruction, programming, and resource allocation” (Irvin, Meltzer, & Dukes, 2007, p. 1). It is an involved process that has to be PLANNED carefully.

 

Student data should drive what you are doing. If you aren’t catering to your students, why are you wasting your and their time? They are your main audience and they will tell you what they need with the right assessments. Too often it becomes about the teachers, the parents, the principals or *insert gasp here* politicians. Once you have your data you will use research based practices to help students achievement.

 

According to Irvin, Meltzer, & Dukes (2007) say that “A comprehensive literacy action plan has action steps related to five key areas:

  • Strengthening Literacy Development Across the Content Areas;
  • Literacy Interventions for Struggling Readers and Writers;
  • School Policies, Structures, and Culture for Supporting Literacy;
  • Building Leadership Capacity; and
  • Supporting Teachers to Improve Instruction.”

What a great start! As one of those silly teacher folk (and parent) I spoke of earlier I can see some parts missing to those five components. Here are five of my own: consistency, communication, honesty, transparency, and a clear communication of roles. Going into depth on these five could be a whole new blog post, but for now I will leave it at that because…

I have plans.

  

 

Resources

Irvin, J. L., Meltzer, J., & Dukes, M. S. (June 2007). Chapter 5. Develop and Implement a Schoolwide Literacy Action Plan. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/107034/chapters/Develop-and-Implement-a-Schoolwide-Literacy-Action-Plan.aspx

Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plan

Vogt, M., & Shearer, B. A. (2016). Reading specialists and literacy coaches in the real world. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

Advertisements

State and Federal Legislation Analysis

U.S. Department of Education – Every Student Succeeds Act

The ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) was passed by President Obama in December of 2015. It affects all students in the United States and intends to help every student succeed in school by: 

-closing achievement gaps

-increasing equity for all students

-improve the quality of instruction from teachers

-increasing educational outcomes for all students

It also supports:
-high quality preschool
-parent communication regarding assessments
-high academic standards and accountability for schools to achieve them
-interventions for students when needed

The ESSA will help our youngest learners with their literacy skills as they get high quality preschool which means they are exposed earlier in life to the skills that they need. It will also help the rest of our learners as they are given high quality teaching with interventions when needed throughout their education.

For more information go to http://www.ed.gov/essa?src=policy

To sign up for updates on ESSA go to https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USED/subscriber/new?topic_id=USED_28

2015 Minnesota Statute

120B.12 READING PROFICIENTLY NO LATER THAN THE END OF GRADE 3

This Statute states that in the state of Minnesota all students are expected to read at or above their grade level by the end of third grade. In order to get students to that expectation, it identifies using research based instruction methods by teachers as well as allowing teachers the professional development needed in order to give that instruction. It adds that a literacy plan needs to be in place within the district to reach these goals. There is a parent communication component that directs schools and teachers to inform parents if their child is not at or above grade level. It requires that schools report their findings based on assessments and implement interventions when needed.   

For more information go to https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=120b.12

 

MN Department of Education

The Minnesota Department of Education site is a one stop shop for everything you need to know about education in Minnesota. As a teacher in Minnesota it’s important to stay up to date on current news in the state. It gives you a list of quick links that you can utilize depending on your end goal. The top gives many more options that you can scroll through for the information you are looking for.

The legislative page gives you current and past legislative items that allow you to stay up to date on what is going on. You will find that page at http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/about/rule/leg/rpt/index.htm

If you would like updates about current legislation in the state of Minnesota you can submit your email address to https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MNMDE/subscriber/new?topic_id=MNMDE_8

For more information on the main site go to http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/index.html

Lions and Tigers and Bears…OH, MY!!

Data.
Assessment.
Standardized Testing.
OH, MY!
Dorothy, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

th

These are words that can make a teacher cringe. Often times they have been pummeled with these words and the sometimes complicated explanations behind them. It can get overwhelming (and quite sickening) to hear these words and the controversy that may come with them. It may have felt like a tornado of numbers and definitions needed to understand how it works. Because of the way they have been presented to teachers in the past, it may take a shift in thinking to see these words as something that is valuable to our everyday teaching.

Whether your head spins at the sounds of these words or not, data from our assessments and standardized testing can indicate progress, needs, and next steps. Educating ourselves about all of these are the first steps. We are constantly using data from our students even if we aren’t thinking about it. I am always assessing what my students know and where we need to go next, what groups I will put kids in, among other things. None of my lesson plans are set in stone because I’m constantly adjusting to what they need. This is one way that we gather data. It’s important that we remain flexible in order to cater to the needs of our students. We also need to remain flexible as we carefully consider the whole student (age, family, history, culture) as we assess them and look at their data.

There are different types of assessment (which could be a completely different blog post) that we need to consider as teachers. In order for teachers to be successful we need to make sure that we fully understand not only the content that we are teaching but also the way that we can assess the learning of our students. It’s also imperative that our assessments are valid. It’s a waste of everyone’s time if they are not measuring what we need them to measure. When we use our assessments and data in the right way, it becomes a flowing relationship between the data and teacher instruction.

When sharing data with your parents and students it needs to be appropriate for the situation. Handing a parent a score with no explanation could be misleading. The same can be said for students. You need to have clear communication with your families so they know the growth and expectation for that student. When you communicate data in the right way it can be a big factor in student motivation.

cartoon6410

Using data to inform teaching and learning is not an easy process, but it is necessary. If we expect our students to reach new heights we need to properly set them up for success. When we use our assessments and data to find gaps we can propel our students forward with specific instruction which will make them become successful.

Blog Post #2: Literacy Collaborative

Our district has just approved and hired literacy coaches for the 2017-2018 school year. We will be using the Literacy Collaborative framework from  Dr. Irene Fountas and Dr. Gay Su Pinnell’s work (http://www.literacycollaborative.org/index.php). We are doing it through Ohio State University (http://www.lcosu.org/) I have attended a brief overview of the program, but nowhere near the full extent of how everything will work. I’m curious if any readers have heard of or have experience with this framework. Have you been exposed to this model? Do you have any experience with it?

I am excited to get started on it! The first year is when our coaches get a lot of training and bring back the information that they have gained. They will also start some professional development to share what they can as they deepen their learning. Years 2-5 is where we start to get much more training and dig into the framework and what it looks like in our classrooms. I look forward to the training and resources that we will gain from the collaborative. Tell me what you know about it!

Happy Reading!

Blog Post #1: Why are literacy leaders important in K-12 school settings?

Our world is changing faster than we can keep up. It’s important that we do our best to keep our teaching as up to date as possible so that our students are successful. We have them for a short 13 years to get them ready for the real world so we need to be effective.

Literacy is crucial to the success of our students. This is why we spend so much time with it. In order to sustain a system in a school that supports our teachers in their literacy teaching we need to have literacy leaders. The role of a literacy leader is to support, monitor student achievement, collaborate, guide, analyze data, organize and facilitate professional development, and become a partner in the school with stakeholders to ensure students are getting the best literacy education that they can. They need to know what is going on in classrooms and assess the needs of teachers and students. This is a big and important job for the success of the students and the school.

I refer to a quote in the book Systems For Change In Literacy Education (Lyons & Pinnell). “It takes several years of professional development to create powerful instruction” (2001) In order to get to this point, a school needs a dedicated leader that continues to collaborate with the staff to achieve this goal.

As I look at the job of a literacy leader I see that it’s a big one. It’s a job that I hope to undertake some day so it brings some questions to my mind. What does a literacy leader’s job look like to you? How would they be most helpful for you? If you could pick one thing that would benefit you as a literacy teacher right now, what would it be? What do you see as the biggest challenge of having a literacy leader in your school?

These are questions that I start to ponder as I would like to be as helpful and effective as possible if I’m fortunate enough to get a position as a literacy leader one day. I would love to hear feedback on any or all of these questions.  

Thanks for reading!

IMG_3879