Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Read to Succeed District Reading Plan

As a part of the state's Read to Succeed legislation was created to help insure that all students graduate from high school and are college and career ready.

Last year, the school district created a district-wide reading plan to support literacy in the district. Likewise, each school made a plan that reflected their own goals and needs.

There are seven components to the plan. Below, I have shared with you the district's vision for each of them.

Component 1: Leadership
We believe in holding ourselves accountable as we develop and strengthen a generation of readers and writers by guiding student learning and supporting evidence-based research practices. We support teachers, administrators, and stakeholders through professional development, curriculum, and resources.

Component 2: Student Outcomes
We believe in developing clear and measurable student learning outcomes and achievement goals.  We strive to guide each student to demonstrate continual growth towards individualized literacy goals in comprehension, accuracy, and fluency, while expanding vocabulary and creating lifelong readers.

Component 3: Professional Learning Opportunities
We believe teachers are lifelong learners. With a systemic plan, we will continuously provide learning opportunities for all educators and other stakeholders who assist our students in achieving goals. It is our belief that the district must provide opportunities for professional growth at each school and throughout the district by encouraging teachers to seek and achieve personal educational interest and data -driven school goals.

Component 4: Assessment Plan
We believe that continuous formative and summative assessments should be used to monitor student progress and to guide instruction for the purpose of setting individualized student achievement goals. Through progress monitoring, students’ individual needs can be established and used to drive instruction.
Component 5: Instructional Plan
We believe our goal is to provide each student with coaching on his appropriate reading level and to prescriptively guide growth as a reader. We will guide the reader’s growth with the use of:
- summative and formative assessments,
- independent and instructional reading level assessments,
- progress monitoring,
- focused, explicit instruction,
- effective use of the Continuum of Literacy Learning,
- balanced literacy approach,
- integration of content areas, and
- seamless flow of inquiry.
Component 6: Parent and Family Involvement
We believe education is a shared responsibility.   Schools should use every medium possible to communicate frequently and effectively with families.  It is the district’s goal to have a comprehensive involvement plan that addresses the needs of our teachers and students while encouraging parent and family participation within our schools.
Component 7: School-Community Partnerships
We believe relationships with communities, businesses, local government, educators, and parents are critical for student success and quality education.   Teachers, administrators, parents and communities share the responsibility of advancing the educational mission of our district.  Each of these stakeholders offers an important knowledge base and expertise as well as invaluable resources.  These relationships provide a coherent continuum of services for students’ 

What components of the district's reading plan have you noticed in your school this year?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Little Free Libraries Coming to an Area Near You!

This summer we have made so much progress with our Little Free Library (LFL) initiative!

District high school construction and agriculture classes created the libraries during the Spring 2016 semester.

After the tremendous community response, Lancaster has over 20 sponsors for LFLs! These libraries will begin to be placed in neighborhoods starting this fall. Each attendance zone will have access to at least one of the LFLs.

J. Marion Sims continued their literacy partnership with LCSD this summer by painting 10 of the built Little Free Libraries. The six interns that worked throughout the community this summer, spent one of their last days making this project happen.

In future posts, I will give information about LFL locations as they are placed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Coming Soon!!

Making A Big Difference with a Little Free Library
According to the latest Census results, 27.8 % of the students in the Lancaster County School District are currently living below the poverty level. This stunning percentage is made worse by our last years end of grade testing with many of our students not making a proficient score in reading or writing.

Evidence shows that increasing student reading time has the biggest impact on improving reading and test achievement. Students who score in the 98 percentile read at least 67 minutes a day (Anderson, 1998). 

This means that students are reading throughout the school day and also at home. Reading at home during the year is important; It is also critical that students read during vacations and the summer. 

Research has shown that having books in the home is critical for creating readers and thinkers:

-       “Home library size has a very substantial effect on educational attainment, even adjusting for parents’ education, father’s occupational status and other family background characteristics,” reports a study recently published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.

-       “Regardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to a home library helps the children get a little farther in school.”

-       “But the gains are not equally great across the entire range. Having books in the home has a greater impact on children from the least-educated families. It is at the bottom, where books are rare, that each additional book matters most.” (Evans, 2010)

So, what can be done?

One exciting option is to place little free libraries around the community.

A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share.

Lancaster County School District is working to increase the literacy rate in Lancaster County. 

Effectively engaging families and communities around student literacy can lead to increased reading and writing skills. 

Our vision is to partner with our community and support literacy for a life-long love of reading. We want to provide open access to books and cultivate a community of committed readers.

We have reached our initial goal to place 12 Little Free Libraries across our county in pre-selected sites to provide families with easy access to books throughout the year. 

There are still ways you can help. We still need:

  •       A large collection of books for a Little Free Library
  •       Individuals to be stewards of the libraries
  •       Additional libraries to reach other parts of the county

If you are interested in being a part of this exciting initiative, you can contact Staci White, Lisa Hallman or Angela Vaughan. Your participation will make our county a better place, one book exchange at a time. 

Books have the power to change lives – they inspire, they challenge and they teach

Angela Vaughan at angela.vaughan@lcsdmail.net  or at 416-8812.

- Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P.T., & Fielding, L. G. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 285-303.
- Evans, M.D.R., J. Kelley, J. Sikora, and D. J. Treiman. 2010. "Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success: Evidence From 27 Nations."  Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 28(2):171-197.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Day with No Words

Since you learned to read, have you ever gone an entire day without reading?

A day without reading is not something that I thought about until a colleague forwarded the following YouTube video to me.


Since I watched this video, I have tried to imagine how I could create a day where I would not read anything at all.

I enjoy camping. Now my camping consists of days in a camper in a national or state campground with nice paved spots.

I do remember tent camping. It was great to be away from people and civilization, but everywhere I camped, there were posted policies and signs that explained rules and told me how to get places.

Even in the most rural place I can imagine camping, there would be some words, somewhere. Even if there were no words in the environment, all of the camping gear would have labels and instructions.

According to the Room to Read, 1 in 7 adults across the globe cannot read.

Statistic Brain Research Institute reported in 2013 that 32 million adults in the US cannot read above a basic level. That is about 14% of adults,

The Literacy Project Foundation explains:
  • Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children
  • 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level
  • 45 million are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level
  • 44% of the American adults do not read a book in a year
  • 6 out of 10 households do not buy a single book in a year
Teachers work everyday to help change these statistics. 

Have you ever gone an entire day without reading anything? Let us know about that day in the comments below.

If you don't want to go a day without reading and are looking for something new to share with your child, click on the It's Monday, What are You Reading? page to find out what others in Lancaster are reading.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Joy of Scribbling

How many of you love to write?  Probably not many of you are jumping up and down about it.

If you have pre-school age children, they are likely the most prolific writers in your home. They are fascinated by trying to control a pencil, crayon or marker. Don't have an abundance of paper? No problem! They will record their thoughts on any available surface.

What about your school age children? Do they love to write just as much? As a teacher, I often heard the mantra, "I hate to write!" Honestly, I struggled to not agree with them.

What is it about writing that appeals so much to preschool children, but brings out dread in older children and adults?

Just like with reading, we only get better at writing by doing it. School gives children plenty of opportunities to write, so we should have great writers, right? Yet, even some of the students who love to read, don't enjoy writing.

The difference between our pre-school and school age children and their love for writing is very simple: choice.

Typically, students have few choices about what they write in school. While many of us feel like it is important to give choices to students as to what they read, we feel very limited in the amount of choices we can give students in writing.

The standards for writing are fairly specific about the kinds of writing that should be expected from students in each grade level in addition to what they should have mastered from previous grades. Being creative inside those expectations is something that teachers are relearning.

Authentic writing, writing that is important to our real lives, is something that we have lost touch with in education. Few teachers ever experienced authentic writing in school.

We were taught to write five paragraph essays with an introduction, a body and a conclusion. The essay, like all paragraphs, should have a topic sentence, supporting details and a conclusion.

The best writing teachers have always known to make writing authentic, and most teachers, I think, have tried to include some real-world writing in their teaching. Many teachers, though, have not felt like they had the time or haven't known how to do this.

We all know the joy a pre-school child has sharing their scribbles with us. They have some very engaging and complicated ideas shared on a piece of paper when they read their writing to us. (Sometimes it is on the wall or a piece of furniture.)

Usually, it is something very important like a letter to someone they love,  a book they are writing, or the menu for the restaurant they opened in their rooms.

As we continue to push literacy in the state and across the country, I hope we can bring the love of writing that pre-schoolers have into the classroom.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November is National Family Literacy Month!

 According to the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), family literacy is when “two generations or more -- parents, children, and/or extended family members – are actively engaged in learning together.”

There are many things we can do as parents and teachers to promote family literacy. One of the easiest ways is to read together. The bedtime story is such a great way for family members to spend time together and read.

Doing homework with your child also promotes family literacy. Chances are, your child is learning the same material you learned in school, but in an entirely different way.

Having your child explain what she is learning will help her cement her knowledge and help you think about things in a different way. Valuing our children and students as teachers will increase their confidence.

Enjoying hobbies together is another way to promote family literacy. Both the child and adult are actively learning something they enjoy.

One of my favorite blogs, ReadWriteThink, gives several ideas of how teachers and families can work together to promote literacy.

Kick off National Family Literacy Day by inviting parents, grandparents, and other family members to your classroom for a family-school reading day.
                Invite students' family members to read a favorite story from their childhood, or their child's favorite bedtime story. (Grandparents can share both their child's and their grandchild's favorites!)
                Provide a collection of books for families to share during a group reading session. Invite families to get comfortable by bringing a cushion, beanbag chair, or pillow.
                Introduce families to some of the games & tools provided by ReadWriteThink. Encourage them to use these engaging tools at home to enhance their reading and writing experiences.
                Provide each family with a certificate of participation or a bookmark at the end of the event. Ask a local bookstore for a donation, or print certificates and bookmarks from your computer.
                At the close of your event, be sure to remind parents about other National Family Literacy Day events in your community.
Remember that family literacy is something that should be encouraged all year round. Invite students and their families to brainstorm ways they can keep their family engaged in reading on a regular basis!

Click on this link, ReadWriteThink, to find many more ideas and websites to promote family literacy. Also visit, National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) for even more great ideas for learning as a family.