New Albany News

Literacy policy would determine best practices

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Jennifer Denny, elementary head of schools, told the New Albany-Plain Local school board Jan. 13 the district has spent two years developing a literacy policy that will help provide "expectations for instructional practices in our classrooms."

The policy would link language-arts teaching from kindergarten through 12th grade and align curriculum with the Common Core State Standards.

Denny said the district needs to use a consistent approach to improve results.

The school board was expected to vote on the policy Jan. 27.

Shelly Schaub, the 2-5 elementary's literacy coach, told the board Jan. 13 many teachers go to professional development seminars and bring back good information but they don't always share what they've learned or what's working in their classrooms with other teachers.

With the policy in place, teachers returning from a professional development course can check what they've learned against the policy, which is designed to increase student learning, increase teacher expertise and increase professional development among teachers, Schaub said.

Schaub said a literacy policy would provide a framework so that teachers have a choice of best practices they can use to help students achieve the goals in the framework.

"When teachers start talking to each other, amazing things happen," Schaub said.

Amanda Coe, a literacy coach training to work in the fourth and fifth grades, told the school board the students are writing in a reader's notebook, which provides the teachers with information on how they've learned and how they're reacting to books read in class.

School board member Laura Kohler complimented the group for starting interesting conversations with the proposed policy.

Kohler said she sat in on a high school English teacher's class and learned the teacher was changing the way he is teaching because of the policy and getting positive results.

Kohler said the policy empowers teachers to make decisions about their teaching and teaches students "not only to learn to read and write, but to learn to love literacy, which may be the most important objective of all."

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