|STUDENTS LEARN TO READ, WRITE AND WORK INDEPENDENTLY THROUGH SMALL GROUP INTERACTION AND PERSONAL FEEDBACK|
MONTREAL, JANUARY 22, 2016 – The board-wide implementation of balanced literacy at the English Montreal School Board is showing positive results as students demonstrate solid learning and growing excitement in regard to reading and writing.
Dante Elementary School in St. Léonard is one of the success stories of the balanced literacy initiative. For the past five years, teachers at this school have implemented “The Daily 5,” an organizational framework in which students practice reading, writing, and working alongside their classmates. By engaging in a series of literacy-related tasks—whether they be interactive word games or writing activities—students rotate to different thematic stations where they practice various important aspects of their literacy skills in authentic ways. Students also benefit by regularly conferencing with their teacher who targets instruction and provides feedback about each student’s specific learning needs.
“Dante has been one of the EMSB pilot schools for the balanced literacy initiative. Because it has been working so well for us, the outcome has been very positive,” said Principal Daniela Lattanzio. “We took the approach and how it teaches the basic elements of literacy to another level because we believe in it. Over the past couple of years, visitors have been coming to the school to visit the classrooms to see how the Daily 5 framework is put into place, then take the information about the approach back to their schools so they can do it there as well.”
In addition to developing their literacy skills and a love of reading and writing, balanced literacy also helps students build their interpersonal and social skills, creating better personal relationships with their classmates. The teachers at Dante who have been implementing this approach like the fact that students spend regular blocks of time working together in small groups of up to five students, allowing them to become gradually more independent, but also to benefit from the social interactions that define some of the learning stations.
“Daily 5 is not just pencil and paper. It’s all about students learning, and having fun interacting with each other at the same time,” said Dina Trapani, one of Dante’s resource teachers. “As a result, they visit the resource room quite often to borrow books. And the teachers are so passionate about balanced literacy because they believe in it and what it can do—and it shows. In fact, their students are always so excited, they keep asking their teacher when their next Daily 5 session will take place.”
Michael J. Cohen