Middle School Literacy Project: Revealing Theories, Transforming Practices
Phase One: Revealing Theories
The Middle School Literacy Project begins with a four-day workshop in the summer during which relevant theories are shared in an interactive framework.
- The project begins with an overall understanding of the reading and writing processes as presented in the latest research-based professional resources. Here, a set of metacognitive strategies that effective and fluent readers use are identified and unpacked.
- The participating teachers are asked to reflect on their current models and practices for literacy instruction. Here, the teachers contextualize their current practices based on such factors as student needs, district/school curriculum frameworks, instructional materials, etc.
- Using an authentic literature, usually a chapter book for young adult readers, the participants engage with the text in deliberate ways to model both the Before-During-After framework of literacy instruction and a variety of effective instructional activities.
- With each instructional activity modeled to support comprehension of the text, ample time is provided to reflect on the effectiveness of the activity and how it promotes the teaching of metacognitive strategies. Here, the teachers link the practice to theory, understanding the intimate connections between them. In addition, the participants brainstorm ways to modify the activity to meet the specific needs of their own students in their particular content areas.
- At the conclusion of reading the text, the teachers create an action plan, outlining the strategies and instructional activities that they would like to implement in the classroom. Here, the teachers revisit their current practices and identify instructional components that can be modified using the new framework of teaching based on the project content. Implementation of the action plan is a requirement of the project.
Phase Two: Transforming Practices
There are five two-hour follow-up sessions during the academic year during which the participating teachers share the progress of their individual action plans.
- They bring student work samples to the group to discuss how they have implemented strategies and activities, what modifications they have made to make the implementation successful, and what issues still remain as difficulties.
- The group serves as a sounding board for each teacher, participating in collective thinking and brainstorming about the issues involved in the implementation of these new instructional activities and strategies.
- During the academic year, each teacher selects a focus project and explores a specific topic in-depth. The final product is a report of their journey in learning about that topic in the classroom and from their own students. In a sense, they each complete an action research documenting changes in their practices about a specific topic. One of the follow-up sessions is devoted to sharing and celebrating these focus projects.