What are your beliefs and your vision for the literacy lives of students in your school?
Take a few minutes to jot down your beliefs or brainstorm with colleagues. If you are a school administrator, you might gather your faculty team for this activity. Think together about how you believe students should spend their time in a school day.
My beliefs are that students deserve to grow up literate in schools, engaging in the authentic literacy activities of thinking, talking, reading, and writing about books. Books are the center of thinking and talking about ideas, and students learn that they are responsible for supporting the literate lives of their peers.
Each student has the opportunity to choose books to read and experience a wide range of topics and genre through read-alouds and book discussions. All students engage with appropriate texts that are intellectually stimulating as they build their language power. Alongside the opportunities for age appropriate text experiences, students deserve texts that support their ability to expand their reading power across increasingly challenging texts. With these leveled texts, the teacher can scaffold the readers and support forward progress.
Lastly, readers need frequent opportunities for choice, independent reading to build their mileage and tastes as readers.
Students also need to build their writing lives through frequent writing opportunities for real purposes and audiences. They learn to write from writers, noticing their craft and becoming their apprentices. With explicit teaching in minilessons and writing conferences, the teacher supports the expansion of writing power. Small-group guided writing lessons support the student’s common writing needs.
I believe this vision of authentic literacy offers students the multiple layers of rich, meaningful learning that they deserve. Think about your vision of how students would spend the day enjoying literacy and gaining the competencies they need.
It may help to write your vision so it can be referred to and revised.
If you are a school leader, gather your faculty team to create your school vision. You may want to consider joining me and my colleague, Cindy Downend, this summer for our four-day School Leaders Seminar in Cambridge, Massachusetts to learn how to lead with a powerful vision that enables every student to succeed.
Irene Fountas directs the Lesley University Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative.