Each year, the instructional staff here at Eagle Rock School chooses a narrow and specific curriculum focus for the year. Known as the annual focus, our educators are continuing to pinpoint improving student literacy, an undertaking that actually began last fall. Specifically, our instructional specialists are focusing on Literacy Across the Curriculum (LAC), a topic of focus as way back as 2011 and 2012.
And while a lot of learning and progress was made, the consensus was that there wasn’t enough systematic implementation to make a lasting difference. As a result, this time around the instructional staff is seeking ways to improve student’s reading comprehension across the board.
Specifically, from now through August, instructors intend to hone our students’ abilities to find evidence within claims, and write persuasively with a warrant, claim and impact.
To prepare for this literacy focus, every staff member at Eagle Rock is reading Transformational Literacy: Making the Common Core Shift with Work That Matters by Ron Berger, Libby Woodfin, Suzanne Nathan Plaut and Cheryl Becker Dobbertin, a pedagogical text that emphasizes the importance of inquiry-based learning, and suggests ways to implement Common Core standards into effective teaching methods.
In the past, when our instructors attempted to implement LAC practices, they found success in improving student reading comprehension, yet found it difficult to create something enduring and consistent that could stand the test of time. By fully engaging all of Eagle Rock’s staff, we hope to generate something that will become as engrained in Eagle Rock’s instructional fabric as our workshop models and learning targets.
In that spirit, the Professional Development Center (PDC) team has done something out of the ordinary. They’ve made the LAC annual focus their yearly school improvement project, effectively moving all of Eagle Rock School toward the same objective.
The team that conducts the professional development sessions to implement LAC is known as the Professional Development Critical Friends Group (PDCFG), which welcomes all instructors to attend each session. In these sessions, instructors learn and teach by way of sharing and reading directly from classroom work.
The PDC team has been working closely with the PDCFG to create and implement an annual instructional professional development. This in turn, will help them closely examine classrooms and determine how they are asking students to find evidence to back up their claims. This establishes a benchmark from which to work.
To further assess students, more focus is being put on the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) results. Unlike typical standardized tests, the CWRA looks into a student’s ability to think critically and communicate effectively through writing. This helps gather more effective quantitative and qualitative data on student literacy as well as increase the quality of instruction and support for students in their literacy practices.
The year is off to a great start, and everybody at Eagle Rock is excited to buckle down and create systemic change within the school’s teaching method. With the energy put into Literacy Across the Curriculum, we will graduate more students who are committed to changing the world.
And, hopefully, increase every student’s engagement in regards to literacy and comprehension.