The remote route to literacy development isn’t impossible—learn from these educators and make your own program a success

Your school has made headway on literacy development. Students are reading more and thinking critically about what they write. And then there’s, well, a pandemic. Teaching and learning move out of the classroom into the virtual world, putting literacy gains at risk.

How do you continue developing your students’ reading and writing skills from afar? How do they avoid the COVID slide potential?

In a recent edLeader Panel, sponsored by Scholastic Digital Solutions, teachers from the New Brunswick Public Schools (NBPS) in New Jersey shared how they moved their guided reading program to a virtual environment, keeping reading and writing skills afloat during these tumultuous times.

Shifting the reading environment

NBPS boasts a research-based guided reading program. It encompasses a range of literacy strategies and tools introduced in stages to help learners at all academic levels build their reading and writing. Prediction, sight-word recognition, phonics, decoding, scaffolded learning, high-level questions, monitoring for meaning, reading groups, word work, and coaching and questioning are several among many approaches in the literacy development toolkit.

When COVID hit and schools closed, teachers wondered how to bring this successful literacy development program into the virtual learning environment with the same student reach and impact.

Your school has made headway on literacy development. Students are reading more and thinking critically about what they write. And then there’s, well, a pandemic. Teaching and learning move out of the classroom into the virtual world, putting literacy gains at risk.

How do you continue developing your students’ reading and writing skills from afar? How do they avoid the COVID slide potential?

In a recent edLeader Panel, sponsored by Scholastic Digital Solutions, teachers from the New Brunswick Public Schools (NBPS) in New Jersey shared how they moved their guided reading program to a virtual environment, keeping reading and writing skills afloat during these tumultuous times.

Shifting the reading environment

NBPS boasts a research-based guided reading program. It encompasses a range of literacy strategies and tools introduced in stages to help learners at all academic levels build their reading and writing. Prediction, sight-word recognition, phonics, decoding, scaffolded learning, high-level questions, monitoring for meaning, reading groups, word work, and coaching and questioning are several among many approaches in the literacy development toolkit.

When COVID hit and schools closed, teachers wondered how to bring this successful literacy development program into the virtual learning environment with the same student reach and impact.

They had to consider critical factors:
• Appropriate tech tools that students and teachers could access and successfully use.
• Lessons that matched students’ specific needs with scaffolds to address their reading levels.
• Engagement of learners, especially the youngest, in meaningful literacy development activities (not just busy work) on days their guided reading groups did not meet with teachers.

The larger issue was how to plan and where to start to continue preparing, empowering and inspiring their students to be literate lifelong learners and leaders.

Going virtual: The strategy

The team tapped the experts first: teachers, reading specialists, and administrative representatives. Willing to try new things, they met a few times a week to map out approaches that drew on the NBPS’ guided reading protocol.

The critical first step: exploring numerous platforms and tools to decide on what would work best. To do this, they shared lesson plans, gave each other feedback to refine them, and then videotaped them to test on the different types of technology.

Using the district’s Guided Reading Lesson Planner, the team linked in screencasts of “homemade” tech-based tutorials, footage of actual teaching in action to model best practices. They added instructional tips and strategies so teachers had everything they needed in a ready-to-implement package.

The team also curated lessons for virtual learning that teachers could use if they did not develop their own. They bolstered their lessons tech tools that include:
• Jamboard, a virtual collaborative whiteboard that a teacher used to have students practice matching pictures to letter blends.
• Google Apps such as Docs and Slides that teachers use to provided text-based writing extensions.
• Flipgrid where students can record themselves reading text to determine where they need assistance; and where students listen to their reading members read assigned text.
• Scholastic Literacy Pro, a collection of leveled ebooks that learners can read online.
• Scholastic F.I.R.S.T., an adaptive learning platform focused on foundational reading skills, word study and phonics.

All the students learned to use the different platforms and their interactive tools, (how to mute and unmute, for example, for individual assistance and group work) and the guided reading instruction began.

The look of remote reading instruction

With these tools in place, the virtual guided reading lesson is as good as the classroom version. Ebooks offer readers a trove of themes to explore; digital instructional collaboration occurs across classrooms, grade levels, and even other schools to develop lesson resources; and the platforms allow for sharing the screen for group lessons.

Teachers have been able to negotiate the technology and distance to provide students with individual and group support while other students read independently. Small groups meet twice a week so that a few students benefit from more targeted instruction. Even though they are not rotating through classroom centers in real time, students can still engage with text multiple times for different purposes.
source: Read More, eSchool News

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