MONTREAL, DECEMBER 10, 2013- Now in its fifth year, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) balanced literacy initiative is continuing to reach more and more classes.
This year, the EMSB Pedagogical Services Department purchased reading assessment kits in both English and French for each elementary school. The PM Benchmark Kit and its equivalent GB+ French kit were distributed at the first meeting of literacy facilitators in September. The one-on-one assessment, ideally done twice a year, helps determine the reading level of each student so that the teacher can then work with small, guided reading groups comprised of students with the same instructional needs. Training sessions were delivered for the assessment kits and an instructional session was also delivered to explain the accompanying software intended to track individual student progress.
In the months of January, February and March the network meetings for facilitators will be held in different hosting schools. During this time new facilitators and regular class teachers will benefit from visiting several model classes to witness guided practice for reading and/or writing. They will also observe how children work independently in a variety of literacy centers while guided practice is conducted.
At each of the monthly Elementary Principals Network meetings, a different aspect of the Balanced Literacy Initiative will be featured and presented by the literacy team of consultants. In addition to these special sessions, principals also have a standing invitation to attend the facilitators’ meetings along with their literacy facilitator. Several have taken advantage of this opportunity on a regular basis, making for a strong and supportive team at their respective schools.
The sharing of best practices in literacy instruction has been one of the central objectives of the balanced literacy initiative over the past five years. It is encouraging to see other initiatives taking place in the school board that further support this objective. Efforts to establish professional learning communities in all EMSB schools and the use of student learning data to inform instruction are examples of shifts that contribute to the development of teachers’ expertise that support student learning.