Guest Contributor: Heidi Roy-Borland
It’s March! For many elementary schools that means it’s Reading Month. While that is true at WLES, our focus is on improving literacy all year long.
At the state level, Michigan is driving improvements in literacy by providing educators with current research and best practices through a collection of documents called “The Essentials”. At WLES, the Essential School-Wide and Center-Wide Practices in Literacy document and screening tool helped identify three areas of focus for our building.
First, establishing a Literacy Leadership Team. This team includes all interested staff, family, and community members. The work is multifaceted, and includes: analyzing data, gathering input from various stakeholder groups, planning and executing literacy events, and providing guidance on decisions about literacy.
Second, focusing on family engagement in literacy. A big piece of this work is strengthening the partnership between families and school. Remembering that engagement happens when both parties work together toward a common goal is key. With that in mind, we are looking at multiple ways to include families to improve literacy.
Third, developing community connections around literacy. We are fortunate to have established relationships with the Northfield Township Area Library and our local Kiwanis group. We will continue to strengthen these partnerships and establish new ones through literacy.
In addition to the three areas of focus, it is important to know that WLES has made many positive strides in the area of literacy in recent years. Here are a few of the highlights:
- WLES adopted new reading curriculum materials in grades K-3 this year and will be adding new writing curriculum in the fall of 2019.
- Six WLES teachers are involved in the Study of Early Literacy, a county level teacher professional learning network.
- Title I reading staff support students in grades K-6.
- WLES offers FREE tutoring, book clubs, and Summer Literacy Camp to select K-3rd grade students through a state level grant.
- Staff create and implement Individual Reading Improvement Plans for all K-3rd grade students with identified reading needs.
- Book Bingo provides 10 new books to every WLES student for summer reading.
- WLES hosts 3 FREE family literacy events in the summer.
- All WLES students visit the Northfield Township Area Library in the spring.
WLES is always looking for volunteers to support literacy. If you are interested in supporting the media center, reading with kids, helping with literacy events, investigating literacy funding opportunities, or becoming a literacy partner, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-449-2051 x1310. You are also invited to join us at our next Literacy Leadership Team meeting on Thursday, April 4 from 3:45-4:45 PM in the WLES media center. FREE childcare provided.