Thursday, April 2, 2015

When Vulnerable Readers Thrive Dreams Come True

Summit 8
Seat tle
May 1-2, 2015
Washington State
Conference Center

Early Years Research
Each speaker will reference the key research that is aligned with
the Washington State Early Learning Plan. This research makes
it unequivocally clear that even if children begin school with
challenges or deficits, over 90% of them are fully capable of reading
at grade level by the end of third grade. The entire Summit is built
on this conviction. If we want to change the trajectory of vulnerable
readers’ lives, we must rely on this research to guide our path. The
Summit program will include the following six essential components.
A variety of the listed speakers will be selected to address each of
these topics. The detailed program will be available in the spring.

Six Essential Components
While there are many components in a balanced literacy program,
we have selected six key topics as our focus for Vulnerable Children
Thrive, as the research has identified these essential components as
foundational to any successful early literacy program. Our keynote
and workshop speakers will specifically target these areas in their

1. A Dynamic Learning Environment
“Learning environments are largely invisible yet permeate everything
that happens in the classroom. Perhaps because of their invisibility,
we tend not to talk about them very much… These missed
opportunities diminish teachers’ awareness of this critical aspect of
schooling and their intentionality in developing environments that
actively invite learning.” (Sousa & Tomlinson, 2011)

2. Foundational Skills and Knowledge
Contrary to recent decades of practice, it is now clear that explicit
instruction must begin in kindergarten (or earlier) for vulnerable
children. Research tells us that mastery of alphabet knowledge
and phonological awareness will have the greatest impact on a
child’s future literacy success, as will knowledge of high frequency
words learned by memory (NELP, 2008). How do we incorporate the
instruction of these essential skills and knowledge into a play-based
learning environment?

3. A ssessment to Inform Instruction
Children must learn over 41 sets of essential skills in their first three
years of school, and some of these key skills have sub-sets of skills
within them. The teacher needs to know if children have been taught
the skill, if they require review of the skill, and if they need to be referred
for special assistance. The teacher needs to be able to assess each child,
track mastery of each skill and be able to group children according to
skill needs. The teacher needs to use all of this information to inform
daily instruction.

4. E mergent Shared Reading and Shared Writing
Shared Reading and Shared Writing are listed in the research (NELP,
2008) as two of the most impactful practices that accelerate future
literacy success. What is Shared Reading and Shared Writing and why
do they have such an impact? What makes these two practices different
from guided reading or other traditional approaches to emergent
reading and writing? How do we merge the best of all approaches? How
do we introduce reading and writing in kindergarten and grade one?

5. Brain-based Differentiated Instruction
Recent research has revealed so much about how the brain learns,
and we can no longer ignore the implications of these discoveries
for educational practice. Teachers need to find ways to use this brain
research to develop strategies that will allow students to succeed in
classrooms that enroll students with a diversity of abilities, cultural
backgrounds, and languages. This research pool (called educational
neuroscience) offers information and insights that can help educators
make implementation decisions.

6. L eadership and Change for Early Learning
There is no more powerful way to initiate systemic change than to
implement “pilot sites” or “demonstration sites” as laboratories where
we can implement research-based change, apply theories, and measure
success with hard data and qualitative stories. These sites can provide a
snapshot of what the change would look like for those who are not yet
ready for full implementation. We can celebrate victories and provide
evidence to skeptics or critics. These sites will not only require key
leaders to be on board, but also committed teachers who feel ready to
take a big implementation step.

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