Time is of the essence! In education, your daily schedule is filled to the brim. You’re planning your next meeting or instructional focus on the drive between sports practice, dinner, and the parent-teacher organization meeting. Sometimes, a few professional “grab and go” options would assist in focusing energy and solidifying next steps. Often times in education, we ask “What are the Essentials?”
In terms of literacy, an unprecedented collaboration by numerous professional educational organizations in the state of Michigan lead to the March 2016 release of The Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy. The “Essentials” are currently two documents (the Pre-K Essentials and K-3 Essentials) that establish a vital “minimum standard of care” for all Michigan students.*
“Literacy knowledge and skills developed in kindergarten through third grade predict later literacy achievement. Classroom instruction can have an enormous impact on the development of literacy knowledge and skills.” Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy- Grades K-3
10 Instructional Practices
- Deliberate, research-informed efforts to foster literacy motivation and engagement within and across lessons
- Read alouds of age-appropriate books and other materials, print or digital
- Small group and individual instruction, using a variety of grouping strategies, most often with flexible groups formed and instruction targeted to children’s observed and assessed needs in specific aspects of literacy development
- Activities that build phonological awareness (grades K and 1 and as needed thereafter)
- Explicit instruction in letter-sound relationships
- Research- and standards-aligned writing instruction
- Intentional and ambitious efforts to build vocabulary and content knowledge
- Abundant reading material and reading opportunities in the classroom
- Ongoing observation and assessment of children’s language and literacy development that informs their education
- Collaboration with families in promoting literacy
Kent ISD is working to support teachers and administrators in their efforts to process what might be personal and/or organizational next steps in relation to reflecting on current literacy practices, planning for areas of growth, and building overall capacity and efficacy in implementation of the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy. Here’s how to learn more:
- Teachers and literacy leaders can engage in learning and dialogue about the Essentials through the Literacy Coaches Network professional learning sessions.
- A three-part series on The Essentials and the School-Wide Literacy Practices will be offered to administrators following the Elementary Principal meetings on November 11th, 2016; February 15th, 2017; and May 24th, 2017.
- Four early literacy coaches are serving area districts and coaching teachers side-by-side in classrooms to support implementation of the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy.
Need support now?
A live resource document linked to The Essentials might be the tool you’re looking for! Here (http://bit.ly/liveessentialsK-3) you can find teacher quick guides to planning intentional instruction around the Essentials, video clips with quality demonstration lessons, “Grab & Go” professional development files, administrator look-for checklists, and more!
If you have questions, please feel free to contact one of our early literacy coaches:
- Click here to email Katie Momber
- Click here to email Jennifer Merkel
- Click here to email Kimberly Van Antwerp
- Click here to email Sarah Shoemaker
Please share this information with your colleagues and district.
*A School-wide/Center-wide Practices in Literacy: Prekindergarten and Elementary Grades document is currently in draft form, and a similar Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy document is expected in the Fall of 2017 for grades 4-8.
This blog post was written by Sarah Shoemaker, Early Literacy Coach for Kent ISD; and, it was edited by Amanda Walma, Professional Learning Coordinator at Kent ISD.