Middle School Literacy Project: Revealing Theories, Transforming Practices
Measure of Success
During the first two years of the project, qualitative methods of assessment were used to measure success. The following are some of the documents that reveal the effectiveness of the project:
- On-going written responses generated by the participating teachers as part of their reflections. These include daily reflection sheets, summary books, entrance and/or exit slips, and final project reflection sheet. From these documents, the participants documented their learning through the use new language (language of the theories) as they reflected on literacy instructional practices as presented by the project. The reflection documents also revealed how the participants transformed as readers, learners, and teachers. The participants reported new insights that they have gained about themselves as readers and about their students as readers (especially those who struggle to read) based on the theories and their experiences with the instructional activities. The reflection documents also revealed their excitement and enthusiasm for the expansion of their repertoire in instructional activities and strategies.
- Each time a new strategy or instructional activities are implemented in the classroom, the participating teachers complete a form to document their experience. The form requires the teachers to report goals for instruction, ways they have modified the original strategy/activity, students who met the instructional goals, other student achievement or behavior noted, other modification needed, and what they would share with colleagues about the strategy. Along with these forms, the participating teachers also shared student work samples that reveal the effectiveness of the strategy/activity. The sharing sessions of these forms were truly powerful. Each and every teacher went above and beyond the minimum requirements by completing multiple forms documenting their many attempts to try new instructional strategies in their classrooms. The discussions during these sharing sessions were lively, engaging, and productive. Based on the teachers’ responses, they appreciated these collective moments of sharing as they created a community of professionals and colleagues.
- Each participating teacher worked with a designated literacy coach during the school year. The literacy coach observed each teacher at least once a month to not only assess the progress of the action plans and focus projects, but also to provide support and coaching as needed. All of these visits are documented in observation forms. Through these visits, we observed the many demands and challenges of teaching in the middle school context. Again, the follow-up sessions provided an excellent opportunity to discuss and share how to resolve these challenges.
- The focus projects documented ways that each teacher met their target goal for the school year. Teachers chose relevant and meaningful topics based on the needs of the students. Most of the project included a component of action research which, we believe, is an essential part of change in instructional practices. One of the projects from the first year included a school-wide writing initiative.