24 December 2012

One School's New Focus on Literacy

On December 14th I was looking forward to the weekend and the opportunity to write about my full week of literacy team planning with one of our middle schools in the district, but in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown tragedy my reflections on our literacy work didn't matter that weekend.   More pressing issues were on the minds of everyone.  Several education bloggers I follow posted thoughtful responses and reflections.

In a twitter exchange, one teacher shared  with me that he processes through writing, and so do I, usually.  For the past two weeks my thoughts have come in fragments typed into my phone or on my iPad, whichever I had available at the moment the thoughts arrived.  Two weeks is longer than I've ever waited to pull those fragments together into one cohesive unit for a blog post.

While adults across the United States argue about much needed gun control, I am hopeful for the kids at the middle school where I worked the week of December 14th because their new literacy leadership team is celebrating the work ahead with reading, writing, discussing, learning new vocabulary, and creating remixed poems.  In a thank you email, the principal of the school where I spent my week leading to December 14th, sent a modified version of 'twas the night before Christmas.  She and her staff (known as staffulty) wrote it and read it to students on the last day of the semester before they left for winter break.

The best part about my time spent in this school is that under new leadership they are focused on literacy and student success not just band-aid fixes to improve test scores.  They are changing their culture and making it cool to read and succeed.  Check out a few lines from their poem--

He was dressed in maroon, and white you can see.
With this LMS attire, a Charger he must be.

A bundle of books he had pulled from his case.
He handed them out and picked up his pace.

His eyes
how serious, His demeanor, how humble
His expression had everyone ready to crumble.

He started his speech about vocabulary and reading,
Things Chargers must do, to be succeeding.

...and a few of my favorite lines are here--

Specifically he spoke about the reading left to do,
By everyone there
students, staffulty, and administrators too.

The reading and vocabulary I will definitely support,
And I will see great results as I analyze reports.
To hear these sweet words, how they caused such delight.
LMS  students read and achieve, with all of their might!

But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight.
Merry Christmas to all and read every night!

What a fabulous way the leaders of this middle school ended the semester--reminding everyone to read over winter break.