Best Practices in Literacy
Reading Recovery - LLI
As a primary school, John L. Edwards is a child’s first formal introduction to public school. We believe that education starts before birth and that early experiences can contribute to a child’s success in school.
Hudson Family Literacy - From 1999 to 2007, our federally funded Even Start Program was an integral part of our school community. This family literacy program was for residents of the Hudson City School District who had children between the ages of birth and seven and had a parent needing ESL instruction, basic literacy, job training, or perhaps wishing to pursue a GED. Working together as a family, and in cooperation with the school, children entering school were off to a more “Even Start.”
This program is no longer supported by the federal government, but through a generous grant from Marlene Brody through the Berkshire Taconic Foundation, we were able to operate through 2009. We are now known as Hudson Family Literacy and work in partnership with Columbia Opportunities, which is providing stimulus money to support this year's program.
The focus is still on the family, but we now have the flexibility to ignore poverty guidelines and service those who want to improve their basic literacy. We offer adult basic education, ESL instruction, parenting skills, a toddler program, and an after school program focusing on literacy. Monthly family nights focus on one specific theme and include a whole family event as well as separate activities for parents and children.
The Pre-K Connection - In the months before a child enters school, we establish connections with area day care and pre-school programs, asking for their assistance in identifying incoming kindergartners. We may visit programs and have orientation sessions at JLE to explain our program. We hold an open house in the spring where students and their parents may visit a classroom.
Summer K - When possible, for a few weeks each summer, we have a summer kindergarten program that introduces children to the routine of school. The emphasis is on developing social skills, routine, and a comfort level with the school so that a transition into a full day, full school program will be smoother. Preference is given to those children who have had no preschool experience, have trouble adjusting to school or separating from their parents, and those who may need some extra time.
Kindergarten Screening - Each spring, entering students register for school. Part of this process involves a brief screening in cognitive and motor areas, a hearing and vision screening, and a parent conference with the principal. During this informal visit, the parent may share any information they wish regarding their child’s strengths, personality traits, type of learning situation they feel their child needs, etc. At this time, we review the results of the screening and discuss any concerns or questions parents may have.
Several parent orientation sessions are held prior to the screening dates.
Our school philosophy evolves around the tenets of the Responsive Classroom: Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self Control. Through a school wide approach, we aim to build a sense of community, not only within the classroom, but within the school as well.
All staff have been trained in the Responsive Classroom approach, an ideal which aims to develop mutual respect between all individuals, and helps students become independent, self-controlled, caring human beings who will take responsibility for their actions and learning. Each classroom has an initial morning meeting that sets the tone for the day. During this time, children greet each other, read the morning news, and share an activity. Common language and universal signals are used throughout the school. Rules are developed by the children with logical consequences that follow infractions.
Best Practices in Literacy
We are affiliated with Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. and the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Many of our staff have been trained by Irene Fountas in the components of balanced literacy and Leveled Literacy Intervention. We consider ourselves fortunate to have this connection to an internationally recognized leader in the field of literacy.
There are four main reading components and four main writing components in a balanced literacy program. Teachers have a literacy block each day that consists of the following components:
Reading aloud - The teacher reads interactively to the children.
Shared reading - The teacher and children share the process of reading many kinds of large print that can be seen by everyone - a story, a poem, or even a big book.
Guided reading - The teacher guides the child through the reading process, accessing progress through a running record and helping the child use known strategies to read text. The teacher also takes advantage of what the child knows to build new strategies.
Independent Reading - The point at which a child can choose his own reading material and gain meaning from it.
Shared writing - Children compose and the teacher writes. The foundation for this is often found in the morning message where the teacher may have left out a capital letter, parts of aa familiar word, punctuation, etc. Through daily exposure and practice, children soon become familiar with common sentence structure.
Interactive writing - Children, with the aide of the teacher, create a large portion of the written message. Children read the text and write as much as they can with the teacher’s guidance.
Writing workshop - A daily period set aside for writing where children write something of choice, etc. This is where students learn the rudiments of writing under teacher guidance.
Independent Writing - The point at which the child can take control of his writing and write for meaning with minimal assistance required. This could be a reaction to a piece of reading, a science log, or math journal.
A classroom based, small group program emphasizing phonemic awareness, Fundations is now being used at all levels kindergarten through grade two. The program is developed by Wilson Learning which specializes in multi-sensory approaches to teaching. This program serves as a supplement to our literacy program.
While the literacy block is the core component of good first teaching, interventions exist for those students who are not experiencing success with the daily program. First grade students may have the opportunity to participate in the Reading Recovery program. Those students who test out as the lowest achieving students on preliminary tests are given 30 minutes of daily instruction from 16 to 20 weeks. The lesson is very specific in method and includes what the child can do, a specific teaching point, writing, and new reading material. Critical to a child’s success is the daily support from home with an adult who can reinforce what the child has done that day. Children must have good attendance and a commitment for parent support before being accepted. We also consider a child’s willingness to learn and level of cooperation.
Ideally, after 20 + weeks in the program, a child will be reading at the average level of his class. Each Reading Recovery teacher will then take another student. Since ½ of the school year has passed, this second round student of students have a stronger foundation and typically complete the program in the remaining weeks of the school year.
Children who make “accelerated progress” are successfully discontinued after this time. While nearly all children progress, there are children who occasionally do not progress sufficiently enough during this time period, have serious attendance issues, do not receive parent support, or simply will not cooperate. These children are withdrawn from the program and alternative interventions are sought. At this point, a child may be referred to our instructional support team for further evaluation.
Leveled Literacy Intervention or LLI
LLI is a scripted program similar to Reading Recovery, but done with groups of three instead of individually. Reading strategies taught are similar. The program may be started at any level, kindergarten through grade two. Children remain in the program until they are reading independently at grade level.
We know as educators of little folks that the early years are critical to future success. Most children need that extra encouragement to maintain their motivation or progress. We have developed, or are in the process of developing, several programs to enrich what we do.
Book Room - A key component of our program is our book room. Multiple copies of hundreds of readers are sorted, leveled according to difficulty, and shelved by level to make them accessible to all staff. Teachers choose books appropriate to a child’s level and exchange then periodically Sucah a system exposes the child to many more books than they would normally see. A child should read five or six books a day.
Jr. Achievement - This national program serves as an introduction to basic principles of economics. There is a specific curriculum for each grade level that aligns with our social studies standards. Representatives from area businesses, parents, or retired community members adopt a class for the five lessons of a program. The kindergarten program is an introduction to the community and the idea of needing money to make a purchase. First grade introduces students to workers in the community, occupations, and the differences between needs and wants. Second graders learn about supply and demand through the creation of a donut factory.
Kid Bizz - Kid Bizz is an internet based program for children of at least a second grade reading level. Critical thinking skills are developed through reading non-fiction current event “newspaper” articles written at the child’s reading level, answering comprehension questions, and creating a written response to a thought question related to the article they read.
Hudson After School Program - Through 21st Century and Advantage After-School grants, JLE hosts and after-school program for 130 students K-2. Through structured time blocks, students have an opportunity for homework help, computer use in specified programs, supervixed recreation, crafts and special projects.
What happens when what we normally do just isn’t enough? Keeping within our goal that all students will leave second grade reading, we look at each student’s individual needs and try to meet them. All children are different and no children learn the same thing in the same way all the time.
Academic Intervention Services or AIS - While many of the programs previously described are interventions, students for whom any of the above programs may not work, receive a custom tailored program based on their needs. Our AIS team meets about every five weeks to review the progress of all students and determines if their current level of support is sufficient, needs to be altered, or can be discontinued.
Fast Forword - Fast Forword is a very individualized, computerized, auditory program that retrains the brain in auditory processing. Specific criteria are used to determine a child’s placement in this generally short term program.
Special Friends - Through our Special Friends program, students are provided with 30 minutes weekly of individual attention by a child associate who works under the direction of our school psychologist and social worker. Many children in the early years may have trouble transitioning into school, making friends, overcoming their shyness, etc. This little bit of extra attention with their “special friend” gives a child an opportunity to receive a little extra support to make their adjustment to school and its demands less difficult.
JIST - CSE - teachers who would like further insight into a student who may be having difficulty may discuss their student with JIST - the John L. Edwards Instructional Support team. The teacher presents information on the student to a commiittee of teachers, support staff, reading specialists, etc., who will then offer suggestions on strategies that may help the student. These are reviewed, and appropriate strategies are suggested, chosen and tried. Additional support services may be recommended. The child’s progress is reviewed periodically. After a number of strategies are tried, if the student is still having difficulty, then a referral may be made to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) for further evaluation.
Schools Attuned - Based on knowledge of the brain’s development and how it works within individuals, the “attuning” process developed by Schools attuned helps teachers gather specific data on an individual student, and then design a program specific to that child’s needs in a number of areas.