English/Language Arts

Building a Community of Readers

Literacy from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade

Now, more than ever, school systems across the nation are looking at how we are preparing our students for the demands of a 21st Century workforce. Today’s students need critical thinking and problem-solving skills not just to solve the problems of the jobs that are currently available to them, but to meet the challenges of adapting to our constantly changing workforce.

The Maryland College and Career Ready Standards (MCCRS) for English Language Arts have standards for literacy under reading-literature and informational text, foundational skills, writing, speaking and listening, and language. Worcester County Public Schools has aligned its own literacy standards with the MCCRS Curriculum. Therefore, literacy standards for primary and secondary students will contain many traits of the literacy standards for the MCCRS.

At the primary level, students are building basic skills in reading, language, and writing that will be the foundation of their literacy in secondary school. At the secondary level, students are approaching college and career readiness. Some of the traits of literate students at the secondary level are demonstrating independence in their work, building strong content knowledge, responding to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline, and the use of technology and digital media strategically.

Acknowledgement of the developmental nature of literacy is a key premise of the guiding principles of literacy for Worcester County Public Schools. An effective district-wide comprehensive literacy program is a powerful tool that enables students to become successful with 21st century literacy skills and successful, independent readers and writers.

With our guiding principles in mind, we have instituted some changes to the way we look at curriculum development. In prior years we planned utilizing curriculum maps that provided a scope and sequence for teachers to use when completing daily planning. In the summer of 2014, we began organizing our curriculum into the Understanding by Design frameworks (UbD) or units of study. This type of curriculum development, which focuses on teaching and assessing for understanding and learning transfer, offers our teachers a planning process and structure to guide curriculum, assessment, and instruction.

At the primary level we have also initiated writer’s workshop for students in grades K-5. Writer’s workshop is a framework for writing instruction that provides students with a daily mini-lesson on the day’s teaching point/writing skill, time for independent writing and conferencing, as well as a teaching share at the end of each lesson. Through this framework our students are being explicitly taught the skills and strategies of effective writing, and the qualities of good writing which are crucial in preparing them for the 21st Century workforce.

Exemplary primary and secondary teachers in our county provide the comprehensive literacy program highlighted above by providing meaningful instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language. As teachers model literacy using a gradual model of instructional delivery, they connect skills and strategy development across the literacy continuum thus ever preparing our students for their futures.

For more information about literacy for grades Pre-K through 12, please contact Cassidy Hamborsky at 410-632-5040 or by emailing [email protected].