Summer Learning Collaborative: Teachers, Authors, Parents & Children

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For three weeks this July, elementary students were invited to attend the Summer Reading Intervention program as part of the “First Summer Learning Collaborative: Teachers, Parent and Authors”. This institute brought together South Country Central School District teachers and Long Island University graduate students who, as certified teachers, were completing their Literacy field work for their specialized study in literacy at the Master’s level.  Teachers worked together in their classrooms collaborating, reflecting and learning together as they supported students in improving their reading and writing skills in a small group environment. Teachers facilitated students in their literacy learning and further refined their own practice of teaching literacy.

Teachers:
As part of the collaborative, teachers studied and practiced a peer coaching model with the Long Island University graduate students and with their South Country Central School District colleagues.  Teachers examined and refined their practice around teaching elements of the reading/writing workshop and also created toolkits for literacy instruction that will be incorporated into classroom instruction.  Teachers focused their time on assessing students’ reading and writing skills, while targeting their individualized needs with the benefit of a peer, to help reflect on students’ progress and accelerate learning for all learners involved in our Summer Learning Collaborative. 

Authors:
Authors and presenters Barb Golub and Stacey Shubitz, leaders in the field of literacy, engaged in valuable conversations and modeled literacy strategies for our teacher participants. Barb Golub presented work around Jennifer Serravallo’s book, The Reading Strategies Book, a book all K-6 teachers will use as a reference in their literacy instruction this school year. Ms. Golub conducted a lab-site where teachers watched her demonstrate a lesson with a class and then modeled small group instruction based on students’ strengths and needs.  Teachers had time to practice the strategies that were modeled throughout the week in small group and then received feedback from other teachers in the peer coaching model.

Parents: 
Teachers developed three different presentations or workshops for parents on ways to support their children’s literacy development at home and engaged parents in practicing these strategies with their child. The first parent workshop was created by teachers to share with parents different aspects of balanced literacy, which is the approach to literacy instruction their children engage in at school.  The second parent workshop consisted of “make and take” stations where parents could learn about literacy strategies and then make “tools” to use with their child at home.  The final parent workshop was even more interactive where parents were invited to attend with their child to participate in different literacy stations created by the teachers.  Teachers demonstrated strategies and then provided time for parents to practice with their children as teachers supported them in the practices. A fun, enlightening, and valuable learning experience was had by all.

Children:
Children were at the center of the minds and hearts of each and every teacher during the Summer Learning Collaborative.  While their parents were learning about literacy during the first two workshops, the children were having lunch and engaging in literacy activities with the teachers from LIU.  Children spent two and a half hours each day, four days a week for the three weeks learning how to improve their writing, by writing a narrative from beginning, middle to end.  Children proudly celebrated their published work in a white hard cover book on the final day.  In addition to writing, students worked in small groups on reading strategies and improved their reading skills by thinking like a writer, connecting their own writing with the many “mentor” authors they read from during the reading instruction.  On the final day of the Summer Reading Intervention program, students were able to choose from books to read for the remainder of the summer.  The books were donated by the book fairies and provided a resource to all children who participated to use the goals that they set for their own summer reading.