Reading instruction is one of our main division-wide goals this year in the Lower School. Specifically, the Lower School has adopted the common approach of a readers workshop within a framework of balanced literacy. This commitment stems from multiple objectives, including:
- To instill a love of reading in all students
- To develop students’ identities as lifelong readers
- To strengthen reading skills outlined in the AERO standards
- To build confident and reflective readers that have the skills to overcome challenges and set goals
- To use a consistent a structure and a common vocabulary to support student success
- To ensure that reading instruction builds each year and that students are being challenged
- To support targeted differentiation through the use of diagnostic and formative assessments
In order to support our teachers in this common approach, a training was held at the beginning of the school year. Two specialized trainers, Enid Martinez and Mary-Ann Colbert, facilitated a five day training for all LS staff, in the philosophy, research, assessment practices, and instructional strategies of a readers workshop.
Teachers began implementation in their classrooms in the first week of school, and continued professional development has supported further reflection and refinement.
In order to make the bridge between school and home, a recent PTA coffee addressed this same topic. Parents were invited to visit classrooms to see readers workshop in action, and reflect on how this approach is the same or different from their own learning experiences. Afterwards, parents also had the chance to put themselves in the shoes of their children, as they took on the role of students in a readers workshop lesson led by the LS coach, Aaron Van Borek. Later, parents received tips and ideas for resources from the LS librarian, Dr. Heather Purcell, who discussed the importance of modeling and fostering a love of reading at home.
The LS’s year-long focus on reading will continue as teachers take the time to observe each other in practice, as well as participate in a labsite training on-campus in February.
Both parents and teachers are already reporting a new enthusiasm and commitment towards reading from our LS students.