Activity Sheet 5-2 The Literacy Collaborative Project (LC)

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1 Activity Sheet 5-2 The Literacy Collaborative Project (LC) Within this district, literacy is the board priority, and the pervasiveness of this priority is clearly evident in the frequent use of the slogan, Literacy is Everyone s Business. In all schools, the School Plan for Continuous Improvement provides a framework to focus on improving student literacy achievement and increasing teacher/school capacity according to the needs of the school. The Literacy Collaborative is a learning structure designed to provide a comprehensive approach to literacy by developing and supporting shared leadership at the school level. The Literacy Collaborative was initiated on a project basis in involving a cohort of 19 schools, but has built over the last four years to include all elementary and secondary schools in the board (180 schools). Schools fill out an application form to the curriculum department seeking involvement at a divisional level, making a commitment to continue for at least two years. While the project began at the primary level, it has been extended to include junior and intermediate/senior, with many schools choosing to be involved in two divisions simultaneously. The project offers schools a focused approach to literacy learning that moves through an established PD journey exploring literacy content integrated with change management. School teams attend all PD sessions together, thus the experience fosters internal school capacity building as well as an ongoing opportunity to learn alongside other schools. The model has evolved from offering content sessions during the day for those schools with allocated literacy teacher staffing and a second option for those staff members who want the same professional learning opportunities after school. Currently all schools have staffing for literacy teacher (depending on size), and PD sessions are run during the school day with release time provided to the school. School teams must include, at minimum, the principal, the literacy teacher and special education teacher or ESL/ELD teacher. Teams commit to participating in regional literacy PD led by curriculum consultants once a month, as well as attending large-group changemanagement sessions led by Carol Rolheiser and Michael Fullan three to six times per year (replicated in four areas in the board). The expectation is that information is then brought back to a school-based literacy team for further support in school implementation. At each content session, homework is assigned in terms of application at the school level as well as data to be collected and shared. At the end of each year, there is a district-wide Literacy Fair where leadership teams from all schools present what they have accomplished and learned. Based on a rotating schedule of highly creative storefront presentations, teams are able to share and learn from each other. Each school must report on their progress in terms of the goals of the Learning Collaborative substantiated by data, and submit an electronic template that is then collated, bound, and distributed system-wide. The Literacy Fair is part celebration and part pressure and support for sustaining the hard work in which these schools are involved. Literacy Collaborative Goals Increase Student Literacy Achievement by: Using assessment data for instruction and selection of relevant resources based on data. Building teacher and administrator capacity in literacy instruction. Building sustainable, collaborative professional learning communities within schools and among schools across the district. Activity Sheet 5-2 (1 of 5)

2 Activity Sheet 5-2 The Literacy Collaborative Project (LC) Participating Schools Currently all schools in the district are participating in The Literacy Collaborative at one or more divisional levels. Schools are required to submit an application stating why they wish to be involved or confirming ongoing participation on an annual basis, as well providing the names of the core team members. Expectations of Participating Schools All core literacy team members must maintain full attendance at PD sessions and share responsibility with the school leadership team and the whole staff in terms of literacy work in the school. The literacy team commits to: Observing, modeling, dialoguing, coaching, and supporting classroom teachers in effective decision-making. Providing on-site PD to support literacy change. Monitoring the ongoing progress of all students. Aligning resources in a case-management approach so that all students can achieve the standard. The expectation is that through distributed leadership, all staff will become knowledgeable about literacy and change management. All schools must commit to the belief that all students can achieve and that all teachers can change practice to achieve their targets. Professional Development Content All PD Includes three components: Literacy Content Led by the district literacy team and highly experienced school literacy teams. Held monthly with a focus on balanced literacy components and effective instructional strategies, the sessions are presented on a divisional basis. Leadership, Change Process and Facilitation Skills Led by Carol Rolheiser and Michael Fullan, these full-day sessions are held three to six times per year, focusing on change leadership that is complementary to the literacy content. These sessions provide opportunities for literacy teams to develop great capacity to lead literacy change efforts in their schools. Administrator Sessions Led by district consultants in collaboration with the Leadership Development Team, these sessions were a recent addition at the request of administrators seeking further professional development, based on the need for intensive school support or training on reflective conversations to further professional dialogue at the school level. Activity Sheet 5-2 (2 of 5)

3 Activity Sheet 5-2 The Literacy Collaborative Project (LC) Principal Commitment Principals must commit to attending all PD sessions with their school teams. Further commitments at the school level include: Maintaining literacy as the school focus in the School Plan for Improvement. Scheduling a 100-minute uninterrupted daily literacy block for all students (all P/J and most Intermediate), as well as ensuring literacy development across the curriculum. Setting rigorous performance standards and targets that seek to have all students performing at a high standard. Focusing on data-driven instruction with assessment of all students at the beginning and end of each year on a full range of measures (e.g., running records, PM benchmarks, or DRA), observation survey, retell rubrics, and formative assessment on a regular basis throughout the year. Using Reading Recovery as the early intervention/prevention for all students in Grade One who are not making adequate progress in learning to read. Staffing as allocated for a school-based literacy teacher. Ensuring that a range of job-embedded professional learning opportunities are facilitated by literacy teachers and consultants. Support teachers through demonstration, team teaching, weekly team meetings, and visits/mentoring/coaching as facilitated by the site-based literacy teacher. Literacy Collaborative Components For all Literacy Collaborative schools, 13 essential components have been identified that must be implemented completely: 1. Shared Beliefs and Understandings Leaders in LC schools must not only believe and understand but walk the talk and take action to demonstrate that they believe: a) All students can achieve high standards given the right time and support. b) All teachers can teach to high standards given the right assistance. c) High expectations and early intervention are essential. d) Teachers need to be able to articulate what they do and why they teach the way they do (Hill and Crevola, 1999). 2. Embedded Literacy Teachers The literacy teacher works alongside classroom teachers modelling/demonstrating successful literacy practice it is not about withdrawing needy students from the classroom environment! Literacy teachers model assessment literacy that drives Instructional Intelligence (Bennett, Sharratt, Sangster, 2003); this is putting the individual faces on the data and taking action in the classroom. In the selection of literacy teachers, the following characteristics are key: a) Strong interpersonal/facilitation skills to be classroom coaches. b) Strong assessment and instructional knowledge in balanced literacy programming in classrooms. c) Co-transformational leadership with administrators. d) Being ongoing lead literacy learners (Sharratt, 2004) Activity Sheet 5-2 (3 of 5)

4 Activity Sheet 5-2 The Literacy Collaborative Project (LC) 3. Timetabled Literacy Block At least 100 uninterrupted minutes per day must be allocated in the morning to emphasize: a) Focused time on task on balanced literacy assessment and instruction. b) No distractions or interruptions, such as announcements, field trips, assemblies during this dedicated literacy time. c) Literacy teachers daily timetables align with the literacy block. 4. Principal Leadership The principal s deep structural understanding of successful literacy practices in classrooms is key. Therefore, principals in LC are committed to: a) Attending all regional literacy professional development sessions with their literacy leadership team. b) Focusing on school data to improve student achievement. c) Staying the course/maintaining the literacy plan outlined in the school plan until improvement is achieved. 5. Full Implementation of Reading Recovery (RR) This program is essential to our literacy success, not only in identifying the lowest-achieving children in every Grade One class, but also in moving these lowest achievers to read and write at the average level so that they are able to benefit from good classroom instruction. Principals must: a) Select competent and experienced primary teachers to be trained. b) Support daily lessons supporting the lowest individual students. c) Commit to ensuring that all children who need it have access to this individualized daily RR instruction. 6. Case Management Approach In order to use data to drive instruction and select resources, we use a case-management approach to: a) Put individual faces on data so that teachers know which students need more support (daily guided reading within the classroom, booster group support, reading buddies, etc.), constantly reviewing the data and updating students progress. b) Ensure that all teachers in the school have collective responsibility for all students. c) Develop tracking boards that are used to monitor student progress throughout the year (kept in a location that serves as a constant reminder to staff). d) Use diagnostic and assessment tools such as PM benchmarks and DRA assessments (three times a year at school level results sent to district research department once a year, in June, to be analyzed) effectively for in-school and district determination of next steps. This helps to identify the needs of each student but also to determine the needs of the system regarding professional development. 7. Literacy Professional Development (PD) at School Staff Meetings Principals commit to literacy PD at staff meetings by reducing operational items to memo format. Meetings focus on weaving together Assessment Literacy and Instructional Intelligence as experienced in classrooms through the literacy lens. In-school PD is to be based on the school s own data, brought by teachers and worked on together. Activity Sheet 5-2 (4 of 5)

5 Activity Sheet 5-2 The Literacy Collaborative Project (LC) 8. In-School Grade Meetings Hold weekly meetings to focus on literacy achievement of individual students by using common assessment tools or exemplars. This allows same-grade teachers to come to common understandings of the expected standards across a grade level. 9. Book Rooms of Levelled Books Establish book rooms at primary and junior levels where literacy teachers have levelled books for classroom teachers use in order to bring all students to the next reading level, Kindergarten to Grade Allocation of School Budget for Literacy Resources Administrators and the literacy leadership team allocate budget for resources. These are recommended by district curriculum consultants at literacy content sessions for use with students and also with teachers (e.g., book study). 11. Action Research Focused on Literacy School literacy teams pose questions concerning literacy and increased student achievement that relate to their school data. During the year, district staff provide PD sessions for the Action Research teams. For on-site work, the district provides grants for each Action Research team to write a report that documents the journey. These reports are compiled into a board report for use by other schools and at the district level. 12. Parental Involvement School literacy teams establish community/home/school relationships. Establish pre-school literacy programs in community locations, with teachers going out to community centres as part of school readiness programs. (Sharratt, 2004) 13. Cross-Curricular Literacy Connections All teachers from JK 8 implement literacy teaching in the content areas across the grades. By 2006, all JK 12 classes implement literacy strategies in the content areas. (Excerpt from Sharratt and Fullan, 2005) Research: The Literacy Collaborative is itself an ongoing research project in terms of effective professional development as well as impact on student achievement. Schools submit evaluation forms at each session and are asked to complete more detailed annual feedback surveys. Participating schools submit student data annually (bi-annually for at-risk students), and this data is used as a means of tracking student progress, monitoring system progress, and determining future PD. Future Directions/Next Steps: Staying the course. Becoming more specific and precise in classroom literacy practice. Widening the sphere of involvement to other schools and districts. In June 2005, the Literacy Fair was opened to many interested boards to attend; in , the Literacy Collaborative was expanded to include school teams from other districts. Activity Sheet 5-2 (5 of 5)

6 Activity Sheet 5-3 The Early Years Literacy Project (EYLP) The Early Years Literacy Project (EYLP) is a research-based initiative that builds on the work of Dr. Peter Hill and Dr. Carmel Crévola, researchers of the Early Years Research Project in Australia. The key components of their research demonstrate there are three factors that enhance improved student learning: high expectations for students, engaged learning time, and structured teaching focused on the learning needs of students. These components serve as the foundation of this project. The percentage of students in EYLP schools scoring at or above the provincial standard (Levels 3 and 4) on the Grade 3 EQAO reading and writing tests continues to increase. The EYLP has also improved student achievement by raising the professional knowledge of teachers and principals through ongoing school- and system-based staff development. Schools are identified through a board-determined index of need, with a minimum of one school participating in each geographic area. Schools involved in the project are asked to submit an annual plan signed by the principal indicating how they would benefit from involvement. Schools and superintendents of education must recommit on an annual basis and may continue to do so as long as they qualify based on justification of need. Schools must resubmit a focused literacy action plan with targets on an annual basis. This plan is based on data and is reviewed and updated twice per year. Staffing assignment is based on the number of students in the primary division as well as on individual considerations of the needs of the school. Each school receives a minimum of 0.5 Reading Recovery teacher and 0.5 literacy coordinator. Schools are required to submit their Diagnostic Reading Assessment (DRA) data electronically twice per year. This project serves as a structure for professional learning for literacy teams, with the expectation that teams then share this information upon their return to the school. PD sessions run regularly with ongoing connections through online networks. Each school commits to pursuing project goals through implementation of the guiding principles. Early Years Literacy Project Goals: Improve literacy achievement for all students. Deliver effective literacy programs in Kindergarten and primary classes. Enable students to achieve the Ontario Curriculum expectations for their grade level. Increase teacher capacity and knowledge of how children learn to read and write. Create professional learning teams that focus on school improvement. Implement Reading Recovery in all EYLP schools. Enhance leadership expertise at both the school and system level. Engage families in supporting the literacy learning of their children. Place fewer students in self-contained special education programs. Activity Sheet 5-3 (1 of 5)

7 Activity Sheet 5-3 The Early Years Literacy Project (EYLP) Guiding Principles for Effective Implementation of the Early Years Literacy Project Beliefs and Understandings All staff involved in the Early Years Literacy Project share the following beliefs and understandings: Every child can speak, read, and write given time and support. Staff have high expectations for all children. Teachers and administrators understand how young children learn to communicate through reading, writing, and oral language. Professional learning is ongoing. Leadership and Coordination The principal will be accountable for the effective implementation of the EYLP in his/her school. The principal will build a culture throughout the school which will build capacity to learn. The principal will attend all required professional development sessions. The literacy coordinator will attend all required professional development sessions. The principal will select a literacy coordinator(s) according to the criteria outlined. The role of literacy coordinator may not be combined with the role of vice-principal. The literacy coordinator(s) will commit to the role for four years. At least 85% of the literacy coordinator s time will be spent planning, mentoring, coaching, and modelling with classroom teachers from JK to Grade 3. The principal will select a Reading Recovery teacher(s) according to the criteria outlined by the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery. The Reading Recovery teacher will commit to the role for 4 5 years maximum. The Annual Learning Plan for all primary teachers will reflect one goal related to EYLP. The principal will ensure that the School Improvement Plan has specific literacy targets for each year in the project. The principal will commit funding from the school s base budget to support EYLP. School and Class Organization The school will implement a daily uninterrupted two-hour time block in the morning for literacy instruction for Grades 1 to 3. The literacy coordinator will coach, mentor, and partner with kindergarten and primary teachers during the literacy block. The literacy coordinator and Reading Recovery teacher may never be used for occasional teacher or prep-time coverage during the literacy block. Student instructional materials and teacher professional resources will be organized and maintained by the literacy coordinator. The literacy coordinator and teacher-librarian will collaborate with classroom teachers to select appropriate material for their students programs. Activity Sheet 5-3 (2 of 5)

8 Activity Sheet 5-3 The Early Years Literacy Project (EYLP) Professional Learning Teams Each school will establish a Primary Literacy Learning Team consisting of an administrator, the literacy coordinator(s), the Reading Recovery teacher(s), representatives from Kindergarten and Grades 1 to 3, and any other appropriate staff (e.g., ESL teacher, special education teacher, and teacher-librarian). This team will meet on a regular basis to explore student data; discuss teaching, learning, and assessment practices; and determine appropriate professional development strategies for staff to improve student learning. The Primary Literacy Learning Team will also monitor progress, communicate information, and assist with selection and program decisions as they relate to Reading Recovery. Intervention and Special Assistance The board is committed to full implementation of Reading Recovery in their schools. Staffing will be allocated to address 20% of the Grade 1 population. Each trained Reading Recovery teacher should have the capacity to teach 8 to 12 students in a year. Classroom Teaching Strategies All teachers will implement the components of balanced literacy and provide focused literacy instruction during the two-hour morning literacy block. All teachers involved with the project will refine and expand their repertoire of effective assessment and instructional strategies. All teachers will have the opportunity to engage in and are expected to participate in professional development at the school and system level (e.g., in-school professional dialogue, workshops, EYLP summer institute). Standards and Targets The school will measure student performance relative to targets established by the board. The school will use the board s Standards of Practice for Literacy K-3 to guide teachers instructional practice. Schools will use the EYLP rubrics to measure progress towards implementing the guiding principles (Teacher Rubric Grades 1 to 3, Kindergarten Rubric, and Implementation Rubric). Monitoring and Assessment Teachers of Grades 1 to 3 will use the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) at least twice each year to assess and program for students. The data will be collected twice a year for research purposes. Teachers of Grades 1 to 3 will use a variety of assessment and evaluation strategies, as well as tools including but not limited to running records, EQAO data, portfolios, and observation checklists. Teachers will use the information from these assessments to program effectively for their students. Kindergarten teachers will attend training sessions on the use of the observation survey to assess student performance and program effectively. Kindergarten teachers may use the DRA to assess and program for their beginning readers. Administrators, literacy coordinators, and teachers will complete year-end surveys designed to measure attitudes, perceptions, and progress related to the project for research purposes. The school Literacy Learning Team, led by the principal, will develop a process to identify, monitor, and track students at risk on an ongoing basis. Activity Sheet 5-3 (3 of 5)

9 Activity Sheet 5-3 The Early Years Literacy Project (EYLP) Home, School, and Community Relationships Schools will inform parents/guardians about the Early Years Literacy Project. Schools will engage parents/guardians in a variety of ways so they can support children s literacy learning at home (e.g., family literacy nights, Snuggle Up and Read, tips on how to support literacy in the home included in school newsletters, and book bag programs). Schools will inform their school councils about the project on an ongoing basis. Reading Recovery teachers will work closely with parents of students in the Reading Recovery Program. Key Commitments Required from Principals of EYLP Schools Principals will: Build and maintain a comprehensive school-wide focus on literacy and be accountable for the success of EYLP. Reflect EYLP goals and actions in their School Improvement Plan. Plan and maintain a financial commitment to supporting the school s literacy initiatives from the school-based budget, aligned with EYLP priorities. Use data to demonstrate growth in student achievement over time. Assume responsibility for selecting leaders who will build professional learning teams. Commit to extending their own learning in the areas of reading, writing, oral language, and literacy leadership over time. Expand literacy learning to parents. Establish a culture of learning among teachers where they see themselves as learners and as a member of a professional learning community focused on enriching programming in literacy. Share effective practices and engage in various types of professional development such as workshops, action research, and class visits. Monitor and track students at risk and ensure that data is used to impact student programming. Clearly articulate the program expectations in literacy, and support teachers work in the components of balanced literacy. Set clear expectations with primary staff for EYLP. Build a collaborative relationship with the literacy coordinator and Reading Recovery teacher(s) to support them in their respective roles and to assist with the implementation of literacy practices. Develop a succession plan for key roles such as the literacy coordinator and Reading Recovery teacher. Ensure that literacy coordinators have daily access to TEL, the electronic network for the EYLP LC conference. Consistently attend EYLP PD sessions (e.g., summer institute, monthly LC/P sessions, and special conferences). Support and guide the work of the literacy coordinator, working specifically to support coaching relationships. Activity Sheet 5-3 (4 of 5)

10 Activity Sheet 5-3 The Early Years Literacy Project (EYLP) Criteria for Selecting Literacy Coordinators Qualifications All literacy coordinators must have: A permanent contract and teacher certification according to provincial requirements. A minimum of three years successful teaching. Successful experience teaching kindergarten and/or primary students for a minimum of 2 years. Skills Courses or certification in the area of literacy would be an asset. All literacy coordinators should have: An in-depth understanding of how young children acquire literacy skills. The skills to engage, influence, and motivate others to explore all areas of literacy. The ability to manage additional responsibilities and to lead a team. The ability to communicate with colleagues, parents/guardians, and administrators in their own school and other project schools. Evidence of adaptability and problem-solving skills. Willingness to learn and apply new skills and knowledge. Collaborative skills to promote teamwork and co-operation. Flexibility to implement a dynamic literacy program responsive to changing needs. Excellent organizational skills (e.g., effective management of resources, data, and time). Computer skills to access electronic resources and conferences, and a willingness to extend their skills. A good foundational knowledge and skill in delivering most aspects of a balanced literacy program. Activity Sheet 5-3 (5 of 5)

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