Our Journey: Where we started, where we are and where we're going
Our journey began in 2012 when we introduced Fountas and Pinnell to our Grade 1 to 3 teachers as a way to track individual student growth and guide instruction. Since then, Sask Reads was introduced across the province as a rich resource and companion to the English Language Arts curriculum. It was created based on sound research, specifically in reading, focusing on instructional approaches, assessment and intervention. It showcases the diversity of promising practices that have proven successful in school divisions.
Within LPSD, we have made literacy a priority and are committed to improving our student literacy through effective instructional strategies and assessment, data collection and professional development for teachers. We have also provided more support in and out of the classroom through our literacy coaches.
We are pleased to say that from our beginnings in 2012, we have continually shown growth in the number of students reading at or above grade level. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff members.
We will continue to work with students and staff in all of our schools, expanding into our middle and high schools. Literacy will always be a priority as we strive to meet the needs of each and every student.
Continuing the journey, we will begin to work on writing skills as well. The reading/writing connection is beyond language. The integration of both enriches and enlivens the world of a child’s mind and thinking.
To quote Pam Allyn, “reading is like breathing in; writing is like breathing out.”
Check out some of the ways we help our students become better readers and writers!
Barr Colony School
Success story: "We had a Grade 6 student who came to us from another country. Through the support of the classroom teacher and school team, this student went up nine reading levels from October to March, putting them above grade level!"
Literacy is an integral part of how we operate at Barr Colony School. Not only do teachers at Barr Colony work together to plan and deliver lessons targeted at each student’s instructional level, but they also used the new Saskatchewan Reads document to guide their instruction. The extensive Saskatchewan Reads document is based on the research of leading reading experts.
Our Literacy Coach is an important part of our school-based literacy team and works alongside teachers to improve instructional practices.
At Barr Colony School, we have celebrated literacy in many ways this year. Every day, students from our leadership club read with students who do not always have an opportunity to read with someone at home.
We have had a “booknic” where parents came to school with a picnic lunch and read with their children. Many families come to our Family Literacy nights for both Kindergarten as well as the whole school.
During literacy nights, families read books and work together on activities based on what they have read. Character dress up day is always a favourite with students as they get to show off their favourite characters from their favourite books.
One of the school’s favourite activities this year was when two of our Grade 6 students shared a Cree book with the rest of the classes in the school. This was an amazing opportunity for them to take some leadership and to celebrate their culture.
College Park School
Success story: "We’ve had a great many successes this year in our literacy instruction with students new to our school who were reading below grade level. One of these students tested at Level E in October. With Tier One and Tier Two interventions, as well as a home reading program, she improved to grade level by March, which is an improvement of five levels!"
Finding the right book for every student is the goal at College Park School. Whether that be a comic book, a piece of poetry, a fairy tale, a novel, a chapter book or even a magazine, we want to teach our students to read and instill a love of reading for everyone in our school.
Literacy is an integral part of the day for students at College Park School. Our kindergarten program infuses literacy throughout the inquiry and play based models of instruction. Teachers structure the day so students have uninterrupted blocks of time devoted to literacy, which includes reading and writing.
Our students regularly meet with their reading buddies, where older students support younger students in their reading growth through modelling proficient reading strategies and sharing their passion for reading.
Literacy instruction is also an integral part of the day for our teachers. Teachers include reading instruction throughout all subject areas, including science, social studies and math. All of our teachers have participated in professional development for Sask Reads and we endeavor to use that document as the foundation of our reading instruction from Grades 1-9.
Our Grades 1-3 teaching teams have regularly scheduled collaboration meetings with the literacy coach and an educational support teacher. During these meetings, they focus on student data and instructional practices.
We believe that literacy at home is where it all begins and we support this by holding two book fairs a year where parents can purchase affordable quality books. We also have a comprehensive Home Reading Program in every classroom in Grades 1-3.
Celebrating Literacy can happen in many ways and many forms.
We have brought literature to life with our Grade 2 plays and our French plays. We have taken time to enjoy reading as a whole school on literacy day and we have dressed up as our favourite book characters.
We would like to acknowledge the hard work of the College Park Literacy Team. Our team has representation from primary teachers, elementary teachers, middle school teachers, student services team, literacy coach, teacher librarian and administration.
Jack Kemp Community School
Success story: "A student who immigrated from Africa about two years ago had been struggling to start reading — recognizing letters and words. She has improved by multiple levels and is now starting to think of herself as a reader. This is a truly an example of a team effort between our classroom teacher, English as an Additional Language (EAL) Lead Teacher, Education Support Teacher (EST) and Targeted Skills Teacher (TST) to help her be and to feel successful."
Reading is a top priority at Jack Kemp Community School. At JKCS, we know that students who are reading at grade level find greater success and have a greater sense of pride in who they are. Therefore, we strive to ensure that all students achieve their potential.
Teachers in Grades 1-6 meet in teams weekly to examine their students’ reading data, to make a plan for supporting students and to collaborate on teaching reading using the best practices. Our Literacy Coach, Education Support Teacher and our Targeted Skills Teacher join these meetings as part of the support team. Interventions are planned and teachers work together to meet all students’ needs.
We have several yearly events to celebrate and promote reading with our students and families.
During Literacy Week, students always look forward to dressing up as their favourite storybook characters, special draws for free books, our ‘Read-In’ assembly in the gym and enjoying stories presented by our guest readers.
We have had Bobcats, Newcap News reporters and government officials as guests!
Another special event is our “Jack Kemp Reads for a Cause” initiative. For approximately one month, students set reading goals at home and at school to watch our ‘read-o-meter’ grow in the front entrance. Special prizes are earned such as double recess and a dance party.
Funds raised through Jack Kemp Reads for a Cause go towards the MS Society and our local food bank.
We were very fortunate to be a part of the Indigo Adopt-a-School during the 2014-15 school year. Our local and extended communities were great supporters of ensuring our library got filled with new books!
At JKCS we often say, ‘reading is food for the brain!’. We read, read, read to grow our brains and just for the sheer enjoyment of a great book. Our students continue to show tremendous improvements with a continued desire to achieve.
Queen Elizabeth School
Success story: "A student came into Grade 1 unable to read a beginning Grade 1 story. Through daily interventions, support and persistence, they have since improved nine levels and as of March have already reached the year-end goal for Grade 1 students. This is just one of many examples of our daily success stories!"
Staff, students and community members have helped to create a vibrant literacy experience at Queen Elizabeth School. It has been our mission to ensure that every child who requires help receives the necessary support to make them successful both at school and beyond.
Three years ago the staff was looking for a way to find more time in the day to work with students in small groups or individually. Through discussion we implemented a 25-minute RTI (Response to Intervention) block. Every day during RTI, teachers in all classrooms offer extra support on specific skills for individual students or small groups of students. The changing needs of our students dictate the focus of this structured time.
The collaborative efforts of teachers is a strong component of student success. Teachers meet together with a school-based team weekly to discuss what is working and what is not working with their students and as a group, they decide what actions need to be taken to help make that child successful.
With literacy always at the forefront, staff work collaboratively to design activities that are not only fun, but allow students to showcase their literacy skills!
There are a number of ways we showcase literacy at our school.
Early in the year, students in Grades 4-6 created “book spine poetry” and then took pictures of their final products.
During literacy week, students researched their favourite riddles so they could read them with the morning announcements! Some classrooms had students showcase their artistic skills by reproducing favourite book covers!
For the third year in a row, community members donated close to 2,000 new and lightly-used books where students then participated in a “Book Swap”. All students ended up with a number of books that they could keep!
It is also important that students get the opportunity to read every single day: they can bring books from home, choose from the various books that teachers have brought to the school, or they head to the school library’s never-ending collection.
Our school even set up a new permanent “Parent Book Exchange” for parents to drop off and to take books at no cost.
Our school also has a Literacy Card Program, where every time a student reads at home for 10 minutes, parents sign the card. When it is full, the card is returned to the office where it is then entered for various prizes at our monthly celebration assembly.
Rendell Park Elementary School
Success story: "We are very excited about our Grades 1 to 6 literacy RTI program. During our intervention time, we mix students in grade-like groupings based on reading needs and strengths. Through the hard work of our staff and students, we are proud to announce that 91 per cent of students from Grades 1 to 6 are reading at or above grade level."
At Rendell Park Elementary School, literacy programming is a top priority. This priority is supported both through staff collaboration and our student-first approach towards literacy. Mixer is a major component of our literacy program. How the Mixer process begins with collecting students reading data.
Using those findings, students are then split up based on their current reading level and individualized reading needs. A variety of different school personnel (classroom teachers, ESTs, the literacy coach, administration and educational assistants) then work with students to challenge more advanced readers and provide more focused instruction to those who require more support.
Our literacy team truly represents the whole school. There is representation from each grade level, Student Services, the Literacy Coach and administration. This team has driven professional development and worked towards making common reading and writing assessments and ensuring common language within grade level groups.
There have been many celebrations at our school this year around literacy. An area that we like to celebrate is our classroom environments.
It is evident when walking through our building and while visiting classrooms that they have an inviting atmosphere and are centres to promote literacy. Teachers have taken a lot of care not only in creating a classroom environment through decor, but are also taking the time to pick quality pieces of literature to house in their classrooms.
Another celebration would be the efforts to revitalize the library. Again, an effort was made to make the library visually more appealing, but the greatest gain has been adding new books to our collection.
Our librarians this year have found creative ways to acquire new books and it sure has benefited our students!
The Million Minute Challenge was a school-wide event to promote reading both at home and at school. Rendell Park tracked reading minutes since the Easter Break. The goal was to reach a total of one million minutes when adding all students reading Grades 1-6. This event helped raise the profile of literacy amongst the school community and raised student engagement in reading!
Winston Churchill School
Success story: "We would like to celebrate a little girl who is in Grade 2 who showed great determination and excitement for learning. She has gained nine literacy levels in seven months due to the programs provided at school, the support from home and her eagerness to learn to read. She has truly started to flourish in all of her learning!"
A life-long love of literacy is a goal for students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 at Winston Churchill School. From the very beginning in Kindergarten, we provide opportunities for learning about language, sounds and letters in an inquiry model. Reading books about chicks, observing them hatch, and writing science journals are a part of daily language exploration as well as questioning, researching, printing or even singing. Students are challenged to use both their spoken and written language to interpret the world around them while building the foundations of literacy they will need in school and in life.
Our Grade 1-3 focus is on developing students’ reading skills, using the Saskatchewan Reads curricular document to support Modelled Reading, Shared Reading, Guided Reading and Independent Reading. Balanced literacy in those primary classrooms, plus the interventions provided by our Literacy Coach, First Nations/Métis Literacy Support Teacher and Educational Support Teachers give us the opportunity to provide high quality and individualized attention to ALL students.
Grades 4-6 students work on refining and applying their reading and writing skills through Reading for Meaning and Writing for a Purpose. Targeted Intervention supports continue to be applied and technology is used to assist our students to meet curricular outcomes. Our School Literacy Improvement Team, with teacher representatives from each grade level, is focused on Writing assessments and instructional strategies, with a significant improvement being seen in student writing quality.
A foundation for these literacy activities is a love of literacy and a love for learning, which is modelled by staff at our school. Book cover door decorations, the home reading program, literacy month activities, guest readers on the announcements, a run-on story, mystery books, daily spelling bee words, parent-picnic literacy lunch, creative writing camps, spelling club, storybook character spirit day, and a twitter summer reading contest make literacy fun for all in our Winston Churchill community.