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Subject:

PROMISING PRACTICE: Academic/Literacy Integration

From:

Dan Kern <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 1 May 2009 11:44:12 -0500

Content-Type:

multipart/related

Parts/Attachments:

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CTElogoPromising Practice: Academic/Literacy Integration

 

Student population: 130 juniors and seniors 

Sending schools/districts: Ft. Kent, Wisdom, and Madawaska high schools

 

Program Focus 

1)       Develop students’ literacy and critical thinking skills as part of
instruction in each program area to a) support academic integration and b)
decrease the number of graduates who have to take remedial reading and
writing courses in college. 

2)       Partner with sending schools to select and use a common reading and
math assessment so that appropriate data-based support can be provided to
students. 

 

Getting Started

David Morse wanted to reduce the numbers of high school graduates needing to
take remedial courses in their first year of college. The SJVTC staff
decided on a dual course of action: 1) increase the amount of literacy
support and critical thinking in all program areas; and 2) work with sending
schools to identify an assessment that would determine which students need
help in literacy and math. During the past two years, SJVTC has:

*	Supported the culinary arts teacher to participate in the CTE mentor
training series
*	Sent four teachers to the CTE vocabulary and writing institutes
*	Provided opportunities for sharing the use of instructional
strategies at faculty meetings; Initiated a focus on critical thinking;
provided materials to teachers and displayed Bloom’s Taxonomy posters for
students to see and refer to
*	Conducted walkthroughs every two weeks to collect evidence of higher
order thinking instruction

Morse scheduled meetings with representatives from the sending schools to
select a common assessment. A variety of assessments were reviewed,
including the Accuplacer, the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE), the
Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI), and NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress
(MAP) tests. At first, all sending schools agreed to use Measures of
Academic Progress (MAP), but that agreement is currently on hold. 

 

Keys to Success

The director attributes instructor buy-in  to the formal and informal
professional development, collaborative sharing of strategy use, expectation
for classroom implementation, and consistent walkthrough observations. Each
observation was followed by a brief meeting within one day to provide
feedback. Goals were set: 20% of instruction by December 2006 and 30% by
April 2007 would require students to engage in higher order thinking.
Observation data confirmed that all teachers met these targets. In January
2008 the walkthrough observations were extended to include literacy,
critical thinking, safety, supervision, and instruction. A literacy action
plan is being developed for the 2008–09 school year. The action plan will
focus on continuous improvement in the following areas: literacy, higher
order critical thinking, problem solving, and using assessment data to
support individual student development. 

 

What It Looks Like Now

Teachers across the center agree there is an ongoing need to improve
students’ literacy skills to meet the demands of the workplace and succeed
on national certification tests. During the site visit in May of 2008, all
seven of the SJVTC instructors provided samples of student work, and lesson
plans to show how they weave literacy supports into program area learning on
a consistent basis. Students in all program areas participate in Skills USA,
which further develops literacy skills through activities like resume
development and interview practice. Some instructors questioned if specific
literacy support strategies introduced last year are the best way to meet
their instructional needs. However, all teachers described how they use
multiple approaches to support students to practice analytical, evaluative,
and synthesizing skills. 

 

Students, whether framing a building, completing portfolios, upgrading
computers, or grinding brake drums, discussed the importance of reading,
vocabulary, thinking, mathematics, and problem solving. The environment at
the center is literacy rich and, on the day of the site visit, included word
walls, displays of student writing, visuals, students using technology for
differentiated research, and current trade journals in each program area.
Students spoke with pride about ways they helped people in their community,
such as repairing computers for local residents or working at the local
nursing home. This positive feeling towards education was reflected in
Samantha Paradis’ graduation speech when she quoted Katie Lusk, “Education
means inspiring someone’s minds, not just filling their heads.” SJVTC
faculty all strive to achieve this goal. 

 

Next Steps

 

ü  Use Data to Focus Instruction

An assessment profile will be established of entering juniors that will be
distributed to all teachers. Professional development in 2008–09 will be
focused on good grading practices, using the data from assessments to plan
instruction, and using schoolwide rubrics. 

 

ü  Put Additional Literacy Supports Into Place

One or two of the seven faculty members will be sent to the CTE 21st century
learning skills literacy training scheduled during the 2008–09 school year.
A set of literacy resource texts will be purchased to deepen learning about
literacy instruction. Teachers will work together to plan integrated units.
Expanded alignment with sending schools, especially around common use of
specific instructional strategies, will be sought. An action plan based on
the May 2008 teacher brainstorming of literacy needs will be developed and
implemented during the 2008–09 school year. Focus areas will include:
schoolwide supports such as time, scheduling, professional development, and
use of lexiles to match students with appropriate text; instructional
supports including use of laptops to increase motivation, use of online
resources, and engaging students in reading and writing; critical thinking
development using Bloom’s thinking prompts, struggling learner supports, and
career readiness support such as job shadowing.

 

ü  Collect Evidence of Student Learning

Student portfolios currently in place will continue to demonstrate students’
proficiencies in communicating what they have learned and showcasing their
accomplishments for prospective employers. Use of the new schoolwide rubrics
will help teachers and students assess student growth. Pre-post assessment
scores from the beginning of the junior year to the end of the senior year
as well as grades, portfolio assessment, and other formative/summative
assessments will help teachers and students gauge student progress. 

 

Institutionalizing the work will require a commitment of time for
collaborative action planning, implementation, sharing of successes/lessons
learned, and resources to support literacy development. Achieving agreement
on a common assessment, using data-based decision making to determine when
specific literacy strategies and instructional practices should be used, and
continued teacher professional development in literacy will continue the
momentum that is underway at SJVTC.

 

For more information, contact David Morse at St. John Valley Technology
Center, 431 US Rt. 1, P.O. Box 509, Frenchville, ME 04745-0509,
207.543.6606, or [log in to unmask] .

 

 

Dan Kern

AD21, Reading

East Central College

1964 Prairie Dell Road

Union, MO  63084-4344

Phone:  (636) 583-5195

Extension:  2426

Fax:  (636) 584-0513

Email:  [log in to unmask]

 

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner. Put

yourself in his place so that you may understand what he learns and

the way he understands it. (Kierkegaard)

 

 


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