CCSD Launches New Initiative to Emphasize K-5 Literacy

CCSD Launches New Initiative to Emphasize K-5 Literacy

Category : CCSD

Learning to read is the very foundation of a child’s education. Without a solid grasp of reading and writing, students can struggle in other subjects and become discouraged, losing their enthusiasm for learning.

Instructional Lead Strategist Amy Walker works with a class at Knox Elementary, engaging students in some of the components of the School District’s new Balanced Literacy initiative.

Over the last year, the CCSD Curriculum and Instruction Division analyzed student achievement data and targeted K-5 literacy as an area for improvement. In support of that priority, the 2017-18 School District budget included funding for new English-Language Arts (ELA) resources, including materials that emphasize a more phonics-based approach for early grades and support a classroom focus on guided reading.

“While our students are doing very well and achieving at high levels on most indicators, we know that there is always room for improvement, “said Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools. “We put our curriculum under the microscope and identified some weaknesses in our early grades reading program. That’s such a fundamental building block, and we know this new approach will give our struggling readers the boost they need to become successful and confident in their reading and writing skills.”

The process started with a redesign of the CCSD reading curriculum, with added rigor and an emphasis on differentiated instruction that supports the reading and writing skill development of all students. The new approach is called “balanced literacy” and incorporates fundamental concepts such as word study and literacy assessment, as well as reading workshops and writing workshops.

“Reading is critical to success in any content area,” said Dr. Nicole Holmes, CCSD’s Chief Academic Officer. “Not only will these skills pay off in other subjects areas for the student, its benefits will also extend into middle and high school.”

The curriculum redesign includes a framework for teaching K-5 reading and writing, with new standards-based units for teachers (six units per grade level), a weekly planner and specific performance tasks for each unit. Instructional Lead Strategists at each elementary school are working with teachers to help them adopt the new teaching strategies, as well as incorporate the new ELA resources arriving in classrooms across the county. These new resources include classroom libraries, guided reading assessment kits, phonics programs and “read aloud” book sets.

Parents can expect to see new resources in their elementary child’s classrooms this fall, as well as increased time spent on reading and writing, especially in small groups. The Curriculum and Instruction Division will be sharing resources for parents on the division’s webpage throughout the year, and if parents are looking for additional ways to work with their child on reading and writing skills, they can contact their child’s teacher for more suggestions. Note: Reading aloud with your child at home remains an excellent way to work on reading skill development!

To see balanced literacy in action, watch this short video.

More information about the Balanced Literacy initiative is posted here.

PARENT RESOURCES

Parent involvement and support is an integral part of a child’s success in school! Reading to a child each day and listening to them read is one way to improve reading success for the younger child.  However, supporting students’ learning through parental involvement extends through high school.  Below are links to websites, apps and a Lexile Finder that will help parents dig deeper into the educational needs of students, allowing them to connect to resources that will support learning.

Parent Power Book

Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success

To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them when they get home. You can’t just contract out parenting. For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences and reading to our children and helping them with their homework.

Educational Apps for Families

Educational Websites for Families

Spanish Version: Parent’s Guide to Student Success (K-12)

The Lexile Framework for Reading

Find the “Right Book” for your child…

​​​​ ​​​Lexile

Resources provided by the Georgia Department of Education (gadoe.org)