Guest post by Lesley Corner.
Literacy is the ability to read and write, but at Camden High School, we’ve expanded that definition to include speaking and listening. Students must have the capacity to apply these skills not only at school, but outside of the academic setting as well to communicate effectively and compete globally. Camden High School takes a cross-curricular approach to promote literacy both within and outside of our school through two courses in our Freshmen Transition Program that focus on literacy development, our community summer reading program, a schoolwide literacy learning network, and the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC).
For the past five years, our county, school district, and school have participated in the One Book, Everyone Reads summer reading program in collaboration with our local bookstore and library. One Book, Everyone Reads encourages a shared, engaging reading experience to provide opportunities for high school students to engage in dialogue with each other, faculty, staff, and their own families. In addition to all reading the same book, we participate in author visits, host read-ins at our football stadium, and hold community-wide discussions. All Kershaw County students are invited to celebrate reading at the annual read-in our school hosts, where you can see teacher cadets, theater students, newspaper staff, and community storytellers interacting with our elementary and middle school students to share a love of reading.
To extend our summer reading celebrations, our school library program promotes reading throughout the year. Students are given rewards for reading the 20 titles nominated for the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award program and casting their vote for their favorite title. Additionally, we sponsor two Literary Luncheons each year to reward students who meet specific reading goals. Other special activities are planned throughout the year, especially in conjunction with Teen Read Week and National Library Week.
Literacy Learning Network
To ensure students are college and career ready, our school’s literacy team developed a new school literacy plan that ensures students read and write across the curriculum. Professional Learning Tuesdays are devoted to professional development and curriculum writing to guide teachers through the implementation of this plan. As one component, our school participates in a rotating period of independent reading daily, so all students have the opportunity to read on their own each day. Additionally, each department developed a content-specific plan incorporating a reading and writing workshop into their classrooms. All teachers offer 60 minutes of reading and writing instruction each week using our school’s writing rubric for consistency.
To help all teachers teach writing, we also implemented Write Like This, a yearlong professional development program on Edmodo providing explicit instruction in all modalities of writing using real-world examples, teacher models, and content-specific quick-writes. Additionally, all faculty and students participate in Monday’s Musings with student and faculty “writers of the week” to encourage writing by celebrating exemplary work on our bulletin boards and on WDOG, our student-produced show.
Literary Design Collaborative
In addition to our school-level professional development, we joined the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC). LDC uses a backwards model that begins with a writing task used to establish which skills are needed to write products that meet expectations. Once these skills are identified, the instruction to teach those skills is designed to offer students a comprehensive literacy experience customized to fit the final writing product they will complete. Two teams of five teachers and one administrator are trained to be local LDC trainers. During second semester, we will increase our implementation to 50 percent of all teachers. By the end of 2018, all teachers will implement LDC.
The principal component of the LDC framework is the design and delivery of a module—a subject-specific reading and writing assignment or “teaching task” with an instructional plan that is taught over a two- to four-week period. The LDC framework uses our standards to target the literacy skills students need to be successful in school, college, and career. During the module, teachers engage students in daily “mini-tasks” to learn and practice each literacy skill that will lead them to complete the main teaching task successfully. LDC mini-tasks act as formative assessments that are fully integrated with ongoing teaching and learning, rather than as an activity separate from daily lessons.
What does your school do to ensure students develop fundamental literacy skills?
Lesley Corner is an assistant principal at Camden High School in Camden, SC. She is the 2016 South Carolina Assistant Principal of the Year and an NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year Finalist. Follow her on Twitter @lesley_corner.