Rainbow over Galileo Lane, Tucson

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Viva La Aurora

On Monday and Tuesday Yetta and I got our reality fix. Pretty heady stuff.
Imagine going into beautiful  well-kept schools, teeming with
multicolored, multilingual youngsters and meeting with young teachers and their not
much older coaches  who can speak the language of RMI and RMA. Each
came to share with us the case studies they are doing of sixth to
eleventh grade students who read at various levels of proficiency and to talk about their plans to
    engage their students in a range of literacy experiences. The
case studies will be part of a research project being conducted by
Lisa Escarcega, the research director for the district and
Charlotte Butler, the secondary English director who conceived the
idea of turning English classes into literacy workshops using miscue
analysis and retrospective miscue analysis as central tools. It's
Charlotte who hand picked and continues to nurture this remarkable group of
educators. She expects  a lot of them and gives them a lot of support.
 Her Toyota Avalon has its own phone number and she was busy
orchestrating her program on her hands free phone as she drove us to
the schools.

 Each of the teachers we met with was excited about the tools they were
using to understand their students and they asked questions which
stretched our thinking  about what was going on in the heads of these
teen and preteen readers.

A common concern of the bright young literacy experts ( remember I'm 84 so
20, 30 and 40 some things are young to me) are bilingual Spanish
    English students who make few miscues but have weak comprehension.
   On the other hand there was one Korean- American seventh grader who made
    many miscues but produced an impressive retelling.

Aurora Pubic Schools has a policy of spending 10% of its budget on
staff development.

Charlotte  brought together literacy educators from the surrounding
area and  from local universities for a lunch meeting. We were
reminded of the other political reality as they shared their concern
over Colorado's version of the "must read by the end of third grade
law". Local educators have apparently won a victory in that the law
will not make failure mandatory but there seems to still be a
requirement that the test used must involve a hand held device for
recording and reporting scores. And guess which test that would mean?

Our experience in Aurora was a real world demonstration of what should
be happening in American schools everywhere as real professionals use
their knowledge and expertise to work collaboratively to produce confident eager readers.
Instead of course teachers and other educators have had to fight to
protect themselves and their students from the imposition of DIBELS
and worse.

Charlotte will be presenting with Debi Goodman at WLU in St.Louis.in July.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Ken for this wonderful story. Just tweeted it. More classrooms should become living spaces for transforming teaching and learning rather than holding places for children and teachers. It requires courage to do this given the current climate. Hopefully stories like this one will inspire others to take on similar challenges.