Literacy Support

In 2015, the Foundation’s initial supports provided to Grand Rapids schools were built around a 2-hour literacy block containing the 5 building blocks of reading. The Foundation also provided a literacy consultant to work full time in each building to help implement these supports. The supports listed below were iterative throughout the 6 years and eventually led to the development of more targeted supports – the Intensive Literacy Instructor model and the 30-Minute Intervention model. Both have been proven to be highly effective and are further explained below.

Overview of Literacy Supports

  • Implementation of 2-hour Literacy Block
    • 5 Building Blocks of Reading
    • Whole Group Instruction
    • Small Group Instruction
  • Full-Time Literacy Coach
    • Coach building teachers, as well as Foundation staff
    • Data Collection/Analysis
    • Principal Support in operations, curriculum, and professional development
  • Interventionists and Volunteers
    • Provide 30-minute student interventions
  • Intensive Literacy Instructor Model
    • Provide high-needs students with 2-hour literacy block in small groups

After working with urban public schools in Grand Rapids for six years, the Center for Sound Literacy Foundation has discovered it is nearly impossible for students to catch up in their classrooms when they are two to three grade levels behind in reading. This is certainly no fault of the teachers or the students. To combat this challenge, the Foundation has found two literacy models to be quite effective with elementary students in urban schools. These models are the Intensive Literacy Instructor (ILI) model and the 30-minute literacy intervention model. The Foundation has proven both to be highly effective in providing elementary students with the instruction needed to grow their literacy skills at a rapid rate.

The models listed above are highly diagnostic and differentiated. Assessments are thoroughly analyzed by the Foundation employees in collaboration with partnered school staff members prior to selecting students for each model. NWEA, F&P, and additional diagnostic assessments are used for this process.

The ILI model targets the lowest literacy performing students in first through fifth grades. With this model, the targeted students are pulled from their classrooms during the literacy block to receive highly differentiated literacy instruction. The students are placed in groups of four and groupings are determined by common student needs. A highly trained, certified teacher instructs each ILI group. The certified teachers participate in regular coaching via the Foundation’s literacy consultants, to ensure each student’s needs are being met. Each day, the students receive instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. While the instruction is highly differentiated to close each student’s literacy gaps, students also receive grade level content. The goal of this model is to provide students with the rigorous and adaptive instruction they need to achieve grade level reading proficiency as quickly as possible. Once students reach this level, they can rejoin their classroom for literacy instruction. When that happens, the Foundation teachers can then begin to work with other students in the same capacity.

The second model provides students with a daily 30-minute literacy intervention in a one-on-one or two-on-one setting. The students targeted for this model are pulled out of their classroom to work with a highly trained paraprofessional each day. Again, this model targets students in first through fifth grades. Students enrolled in this model are also identified by analyzing assessment results. The Foundation provides two interventions for this 30-minute model – EPS Primary Phonics or Leveled Literacy Intervention by Fountas and Pinnell.

For students struggling with lower-level literacy skills, the Foundation implements a phonics-based intervention using EPS Primary Phonics books. This is a systematic phonics intervention in which students are taught phonics codes that are embedded in decodable texts. Although white boards are used when direct phonics instruction is needed, much of the instruction is focused on providing students with an opportunity to read decodable texts to increase their fluency.

For students struggling with higher level literacy skills, such as comprehension and vocabulary, the Foundation utilizes Leveled Literacy Intervention by Fountas and Pinnell. This is a systematic intervention in which students are provided instruction on the building blocks of reading through engaging leveled readers. These readers are no longer decodable and allow students to practice higher level thinking skills.

Successful Implementation

The Foundation staff is highly diagnostic with the implementation of both interventions. This diagnostic nature starts with selecting students and continues with the delivery of each lesson. Instruction within both of these models is constantly adapted to ensure students grow as quickly as possible.

Two literacy consultants are employed by the Foundation to coordinate these models. The literacy consultants train the Foundation’s certified teachers and paraprofessionals. The Team receives an extensive initial training, as well as continued coaching and professional development to ensure students are receiving the highest level of instruction. The Foundation’s diagnostic focus, intensive training, coaching of staff members, and differentiated instruction are what make these intervention models so successful.

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