Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Meeting the Needs of Young Readers

Hudson is fortunate to be the recipient of a Teacher Leadership grant beginning the 2014-2015 school year that will be used to strengthen instruction through embedded professional development. In turn, this has a strong correlation to improved student learning outcomes. A key component of our plan calls for the identification and hiring of instructional coaches. These coaches are considered experts in their field in both content and pedagogy. It will be the responsibility of these coaches to ensure our curriculum is being implemented with fidelity, that students are exposed to a guaranteed, viable curriculum, and instructors have access to and training in the most current research based instructional strategies.

The teacher leadership model for Hudson Schools then, is based on a plan to create additional support for our teachers and is teacher centered. This vision, when fully realized will strengthen instruction in literacy, math, and 21st Century Skills. This vision folds very nicely into the existing professional development regimen the district is now employing, which incorporates a weekly two hour early dismissal into the calendar. It is through this professional development where teachers and teacher leaders will be able to collaborate, learn new strategies, and analyze formative assessment data. This data, collected as part of a student's academic record forms the basis of targeted and specific strategies to be employed in the classroom.

One of the content areas that we have identified for a coaching position is in the area of literacy. Our K-6 elementary staff is currently conducting research into new instructional material that will be used for literacy (English/Language Arts). After they complete that work, they will forward on a recommendation to the Board of Education for adoption. A primary responsibility of the literacy coach will be to work on the implementation of those new resources. In addition, our literacy coach will support further diagnostic use of data and the selection of appropriate strategies to further support student learning according to the Iowa Core.

If you were to examine an elementary teachers daily instructional schedule, you would learn that a large portion of their time is devoted to reading instruction. The fact is that more time is spent on this than any other content area. As we discussed last week, learning to read is critical skill that has lifelong implications. This is one of the primary reasons we devote so much time to reading instruction! This is also one of the primary reasons that we believe our students will benefit (indirectly) from the instructional coaches.

Additional resources are also available that include remediation and targeted instruction for struggling readers. However, in spite of this arsenal of tools at our disposal we still need your help! Practicing reading makes a world of difference, and students whose parents have read to them at an early age, continue to read to them during their formative years, and have their children read to them are much more likely to be proficient reader by the time they complete third grade.

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