Thursday, September 10, 2015

School-Wide Initiatives from a Literacy Coach [Book of the Month & Academic Language]

Hello Primary Pack Friends~
It's Dianna here with you today from Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching! 
Today I wanted to share with you two School-Wide Initiatives I help lead as a Literacy Coach in my school.

Book of the Month

The first focus is something I shared with you all here last school year. It was about starting a Book of the Month program at your school. You can read all about that post HERE & grab a few FREE RESOURCES & IDEAS

This is our second year here at my school doing this. My teachers really enjoy receiving mentor texts each month that can lend themselves to many literacy & character lessons. To me it's a no-brainer, having a program like this helps build a literacy community & a love for literacy in all children. Reading aloud to children is so important at any age. Plus what teacher doesn't LOVE a fresh, crisp, shiny new book each month with a prepped lesson plan for them?!?! 

Academic Language Newsletter

Midway through the 2014-2015 school year, after meeting with some of my Literacy Coach colleagues from the county, a few of us decided to start a School-Wide Academic Language Initiative. The reasons for this I could go on & on with, but the bottom line is student's need to be immersed in this formal language so they can make sense of it on assessments. Almost all assessments are a vocabulary test in a sense. We new our students were better than what the test scores showed. We also knew they couldn't read & comprehend words like: determine, evaluate, analyze, etc... I made it my goal to bring awareness to my teachers as well as starting a school-wide weekly initiative. Our goal was for students to make meaning of these words in different contexts, so that when it came to assessment time they would be able to answer the questions. 

Here is some of the critical information I include in the weekly academic language newsletter:

  • WHAT?: One of our Literacy Focuses is a school-wide initiative: Teaching Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core. This weekly newsletter will help us immerse our students in a linguistic pool of vocabulary K-5.
  • WHY?: Not only do we want our students to acquire vocabulary to promote language skills, such as reading, speaking, listening & writing in their everyday lives, but standardized tests are based on the vocabulary of the standards. In fact, 85% of test scores are based on how well students know the vocabulary of the standards. [Marzano, Tileston].
  • HOW?: A word of the week will be emailed out prior to the start of a new week. There are many ways to integrate the “verbs” into daily classroom instruction & routines as well in Art, PE, Music, Library, Guidance & Lab. Suggestions will be given on how to help students process the critical verbs in a variety of ways to store them in the brain in multiple places. The idea is that the more students are exposed to the words & engaged with them, the more they will make meaning of them.
We are in our second year with this initiative. Each Friday I simply send out a weekly newsletter for the upcoming week with a new word or it can be a review word after a few weeks. The newsletter states the reasons for this initiative, because yes, you will have teachers think this is something "extra" to do. When in fact it is just about teachers retraining themselves with more formal questioning words. The newsletter also states various other information as well as ideas for resource teachers. It's very important that all teachers, including non-homeroom teachers, are involved in things like this. 

Here is a sample of what my newsletters look like:

School-Wide Initiative Bulletin Board:

So here is my bulletin board, it's smack in the front of the school for all guests & visitors to see when walking in. If you clicked above to visit my post from last year of implementing a book of the month program, you saw what the board looked like previously. This year I split the board in half to show both focuses. It also serves as a reminder to students & staff when passing. 

For the Book of the Month side... Each month the new book cover goes up with book information. The previous book covers are moved to the borders, as you can see with August's Book of the Month.

For the Academic Language side... Each week the new word & formal meaning is added to the center of the board. Previous words are placed on the edges for reviewing purposes. 

Great Resource Links to Check out ---->

I hope you find this post helpful or inspiring in some way!

Thanks for reading & follow me along my journey!

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