Grasslands Public Schools believe that improving students' literacy skills can lead to increased high school completion rates.
By focusing on literacy instruction, assessment, and resources, the division aims to improve students reading, writing and oral language skills that enable students to become engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit as outlined in Alberta Education's vision of Inspiring Education.
In year one, the 2012-2013 school year, this multifaceted Literacy Initiative began with focused professional development for teachers and administrators in Kindergarten through Grade 12 with one of Alberta's literacy experts, Miriam Trehearne. With Miriam's guidance teacher's delved into literacy beliefs and instruction at all levels and in all content areas. The second area of focus was the implementation a division-wide reading assessment tool to determine each student's individual reading level in Kindergarten through Grade Six using the Benchmark Assessment System from Irene Fountas & Gay Su Pinnell, two giants in the field of literacy instruction and assessment. The third area of focus in year one was the implementation of Literacy Leads in each school and one Literacy Lead for the colony schools who received additional professional development throughout the school year. These school Literacy Leads helped school administrators develop a Literacy Action Plan for year two, the 2013-2014 school year, to guide the school's implementation of the Literacy Initiative.
In year two, the 2013-2014 school year initiative goals were to continue with focused professional development opportunities with literacy experts in the areas of universal classroom and intervention instruction. Grasslands staff are exploring a variety of literacy practices including:
- the Daily 5 & CAFÉ by Joan Boushey & Gail Moser
- Balanced Literacy
- Leveled Literacy Intervention by Fountas and Pinnell
- Literacy in the Content Areas
Students individual reading levels were assessed again this fall in Kindergarten to Grade Six using the Benchmark Assessment System as the beginning of biannual reading level data collection. The second major Literacy Initiative goal this year focuses on strengthening community partnerships & family literacy. Both individual schools and the district are hosting a variety of literacy events throughout the school year. The final year two goal of the project is improving the quantity and quality of literacy resources in classrooms. A three year funding partnership with Cenovus Energy Inc. allows purchasing universal classroom literacy resources as well as resources for intervening with struggling readers.
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