Since 2000, our mentors have advanced teaching and learning by helping hundreds of educators use research-based knowledge and effective practices to succeed. We customize services for districts, schools, and grade levels whether conducting a workshop or building a long-term mentoring relationship. Literacy How is one of the few professional development companies with this rare capability nationwide.
“…Teaching requires a professional model, like we have in medicine, law, engineering, accounting, architecture and many other fields. In these professions, consistency of quality is created less by holding individual practitioners accountable and more by building a body of knowledge, carefully training people in that knowledge, requiring them to show expertise before they become licensed, and then using their professions’ standards to guide their work…”
—Mehta, J. (April 12, 2013) Opinion pages. Teachers: Will we ever learn? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/
Comprehensive, Research-based Content
The Literacy How Reading Wheel depicts the essential components of comprehensive literacy instruction. Our content is research-based. We know that becoming a skilled reader involves the ability to identify words (decoding) and to understand their meaning and the message they convey (text comprehension). So we build teachers’ knowledge sequentially.
In each of the component areas, we help teachers know:
- how the particular skills develop.
- how to be able to quickly assess where a child is in the development of literacy skills and what kind of instruction would be most helpful.
- how to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of children at different points of development.
- what grade-specific curricular goals are necessary to enable students to be proficient readers by the end of third grade.
Literacy How’s curriculum maps are aligned to the Common Core State Standards to provide teachers and administrators with the pacing guides needed to ensure that all students will learn the requisite literacy skills to be college- and career-ready.
Data-Driven Differentiated Instruction
Small group instruction allows a teacher to be both diagnostic and prescriptive–two key ingredients to optimize learning. Literacy How Mentors help teachers group students, plan, develop, and deliver small group lessons, and monitor student progress. Mentors have expertise in:
- Using assessment to guide instruction.
- Using research-based practices to provide systematic, explicit instruction: the core of the SRBI/RTI approach.
- Differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students.
- Pacing instruction to ensure mastery of essential skills.
- Identifying and delivering appropriate Tier 2 and Tier 3 assessments and interventions.
Effective Classroom Instruction
We have high expectations for student achievement. What we know works best is based on evidence of students’ results and our experience working with teachers in and out of the classroom.
In each of the component areas, we help teachers learn:
- how to monitor students’ progress.
- how to choose the best ‘pace’ of instruction.
- how to match the right text to the skills students are learning.
- how to develop and implement literacy centers that reinforce explicit systematic instruction.
- how to integrate the components of literacy throughout the day.
Mentor Support and Coaching
Our professional development process teams with, equips, and empowers teachers.
As our colleagues Joyce and Showers (2002) have demonstrated, and our professional development model confirms, peer coaching—i.e., mentoring—makes all the difference in translating knowledge into effective practice and producing positive outcomes for teachers and their students.
- We understand that mentors’ classroom support and coaching is essential to transforming teachers into “method-proof” masters of literacy instruction. So our mentors are the ‘go to’ source for every literacy concern.
- Our mentors respect and respond to each school’s unique climate. As external literacy specialists, our goal is to become viable members of school teams.
- We realize that many teachers are unaware of research-based best practices. We meet teachers where they are in their learning and strive to earn their trust and respect.
- Our mentors are available to answer questions, give feedback, and problem solve, gradually releasing responsibility back to teachers and principals as we model lessons, co-teach, coach, and reflect.
- Rather than cover all components at once, we help teachers build expertise in one component area at a time, giving them time to practice with their students. We understand that change is hard and respect teachers’ attitudes, which range from enthusiastic to skeptical, as we support them in strengthening their approach.
Sustainability–Feeding the “Gourmet Omnivore”
- Our collaborative, school-wide process enables administrators and educators to become more effective literacy leaders.
- Extensive experience has taught us that careful selection, guidance, and intensive instruction of a school-wide point person or “Teacher Specialist” builds capacity and is critical to insuring that our approach is sustained.
- We build in-depth knowledge, provide guided experience, and reflection at our series of nine day-long workshops each year, and follow-up in the classroom.
- Our mentors keep learning from researchers, teachers, other experts, and each other so that we can continuously provide state-of-the-art professional development.
What does research say about effective professional development? Read the Center for Public Education’s Report: “Teaching the Teachers. Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability.”