I am very fortunate to be part of a community focused on improving student literacy. This is from the web site for The Learning Alliance-
" Scientists study the brain, but teachers shape it. The Learning Alliance is committed to training teachers to understand the basic neuro-psychological processes involved in reading and reading development. A foundational knowledge of language structures and how they are processed in the brain allows teachers to analyze, evaluate, and deliver instruction to meet the individual needs of all types of readers.The Learning Alliance provides quality professional development followed by individual and group coaching and mentoring. We want to arm our teachers with knowledge, tools, and opportunities to practice in collaborative and supportive ways. Awkwardness is normal when learning anything new, and it is our intention to give teachers the time and support to learn, model, and practice so that finally this knowledge will be internalized, and they, in turn, will be able to do the most important job of all, teach all children to read." ---- see SO lucky!!!
I participated in professional development around the book The Curious Garden . I brought the new visual thinking, literacy, and comprehension strategies I learned into my classroom for this unit. This book tied in really well to our fall unit on plants and harvest and it also fit with our essential question "How are communities helpful?". I was able to hit almost all of the first quarter reading, language, and listening & speaking standards in this week long unit. One of the standards was to identify the major events in the story. The students worked together looking back in the text to decide which events they thought were the most important when retelling the story. Our culminating activity was this paper cut out garden inspired by the work of Molly Bang How Pictures Work. I gave students the construction paper and scissors. They couldn't draw to plan out their garden, they just had to cut. I think they are amazing! You will see the text the students pulled out of the book displayed with our garden.