A literacy plan that lacks real world application is just words on a page. That is not what we need in Spring ISD.
Our teachers and students need a literacy plan – that while grounded in research – is practical in its approach and most importantly, applicable to both school and life.
That’s why we developed LiteracyAPPLIED – our prescriptive day-to-day, hour-to-hour plan to ensure all students are provided the necessary tools, instruction, and opportunity to explore and master the written word. With our plan, our teachers are provided the necessary tools and professional development to ensure that this occurs.
With our youngest students, LiteracyAPPLIED focuses on the tried-and-true building blocks of literacy – word power through phonics instruction, abundant reading opportunities, and workshops designed to help students envision themselves as writers.
At the secondary level, the plan will continue to build on this foundation while also taking literacy instruction well outside the English classroom and embedding it in every subject and across every content area.
Using this approach, it is our hope that by the time a student graduates from Spring ISD, the student will understand that literacy -- reading, writing, listening and oral expression – is applicable to every area life and that it is a key to unlocking opportunities.
Below are the building blocks of LiteracyAPPLIED:
Understanding how letters have sounds, and sounds form patterns that create words, is a powerful component of literacy, which we call Word Power. In essence, it is our way of teaching phonics and spelling. It is our way of making sure students see the connections between sounds and words, and then apply when reading and learning new words, expanding their vocabulary. Word Power values spelling and its place as part of the writing process. When students are better able to express and describe their ideas, internal thoughts, and dialogue through words that others can easily recognize and understand, they are empowered.
With teachers truly acting as literacy coaches, the following supported reading strategies will be used across the district:
- Read Alouds are teacher-led, whole group activities where students are provided listening and comprehension opportunities. During these sessions, teachers model good reading and expression, then ask thought-provoking questions that guide students toward a deeper understanding of the main idea and concepts of the story. As such, the work of read alouds not only supports a student’s comprehension skills but also reinforces skills like reading rhythm, fluency, and expression that also communicate the author’s purpose and deeper thinking. Students will have clear examples that nurture comprehension while reading independently, all while making reading more interesting and enjoyable. Read Alouds help students see the life and voice of books.
- Guided Reading is a teacher supported experience in which students who are reading books at a similar level join together in a small group to read to their teacher. This literacy strategy gives students a chance to practice reading at their current instructional level. Instructional levels are typically at least one grade level above what they can read and understand independently – providing students a valuable stretch and growth opportunity in their literacy journey.
- Shared Reading is teacher facilitated and involves the whole class. Through this literary experience, a class reads together from simple, enjoyable, enlarged texts. Teachers stop and draw attention to letters, sounds, and words – helping connect Word Power strategies to the actual act of reading. Through the inviting environment of Shared Reading, students practice the listening and comprehension skills acquired during Read Alouds and Guided Reading, while making them feel part of a larger reading community.
All combined, supported reading strategies – when done well – are foundational building blocks for students to enjoy and comprehend the written word.
Independent Reading provides a quiet time for students to develop their sense of self and identity as a reader. This protected and directed time each and every day will allow students to read more abundantly and to view independent reading as a safe space to explore other worlds – both those that they can relate to and those that are completely new and foreign to them.
As young students read independently, it is our hope that they will hear their teacher’s voice in their heads, coaching them along the way when they are challenged by new words and new ideas so they can build reading endurance, perseverance and confidence over time. These are the skills needed for silent sustained reading, which becomes critically important as students progress to standardized tests and advanced grades where teachers are not available to guide them with reading prompts and cues.
Our “We are Writers” workshops will include predictable, instructional delivery methods and routines in the classroom that help build student independence as writers. The students work with a self-selected topic while the teacher supports all students through partner or small group work, individual conferences, and whole-group mid-workshop teaching points. The teacher builds students’ writing capacity by giving them multiple opportunities to revise small moments and really get the students to verbalize, understand, and internalize the heart of what they are writing about.
Engaging families and our community
Spring ISD is committed to making sure every child is reading on grade level so they can be successful in school and in life. As part of LiteracyAPPLIED, we are also embarking on a community campaign to encourage reading beyond the classroom.