Literacy, a lifelong journey of learning

Literacy is the foundation for becoming powerful thinkers and communicators.  Building the knowledge, skills, and understandings to become a great reader and writer is extremely complex. Literacy learning at ISP involves children developing these skills through enjoyable, varied, personalized, and authentic engagements as they learn to understand others’ ideas and express their own. 

ISP is extremely fortunate to have Ms. Kathy Zabinski (left), a literacy, pedagogical, and thinking expert, as our ISP ES Literacy Coach. She works with all of our teachers and teaching assistants from Early Childhood to Grade 5, focused on maximizing student learning and progress in literacy.

 “ Literacy coaching leads to greater student achievement. The largest studies showing that literacy coaching increases student learning are a study on coaching in the Literacy Collaborative program by Biancarosa, Bryk, and Dexter (2010) and a multiyear study of literacy coaches in middle schools throughout Florida (Marsh et al., 2008). There are many smaller studies that also suggest coaching’s positive effects.”

Cathay Toll in Why Coaching? International Reading Association

At ISP, everyone is a learner, both children and adults. Teaching is complex, as is learning to read and write. To do either well, we need to be thinkers who actively inquire into how new ideas connect to what we already know as we refine and add to our toolbox of skills.  As the researchers from Project Zero at Harvard University express so well, for classrooms to be cultures of thinking for students, schools must be cultures of thinking for teachers.

Partnering with our amazing teachers and librarians, Kathy facilitates on-going embedded professional learning through modeling, co-teaching, reflecting on student assessments and collaborative professional inquiries. Together, Kathy and the educators consider and connect the complex components of children’s literacy development so they can best support each reader and writer. Coaching provides just in time professional learning that has immediate impact for our learners.  

Most recently, Kathy and the Grade 2 team have been working together on conferring with readers and writers. (To the left is a Grade 2 teacher coaching a student writer.) Conferring is responsive teaching, offering students immediate feedback. Moving around the room, teachers engage in one-on-one conversations, coaching students and providing them with individualized instruction. The teacher records anecdotal notes (qualitative data) that serve to track growth and inform planning. So much of learning is invisible. Conferring helps both the teacher and the learner surface and build on what they’re learning and thinking.

Rich and relevant reading resources

Our lovely librarians, Ms Sandra, Ms. Tara, and Ms. Shaer, research, order and curate an incredible range of beautiful books for the dedicated early childhood library, as well as our gorgeous library space in the Innovation Hub.  

Collaborating with the librarians and teachers, Kathy works to build and manage amazing classroom libraries in all the homerooms so that children are immersed in an environment of literacy. Creating the feel of a bookstore cafe, students have exciting informational books connected with the current inquiries, as well as enticing independent fictional pieces at their fingertips.

Our teachers and librarians share not only their love of reading, but also have a gift for putting just the right book in a child’s hands and sparking their curiosity for more learning, reading and connections.

Right: Grade 4 thrilled to start reading the latest new additions to their classroom library, thanks to our book fairies, Kathy and Ms. Tara. 

Below left, ECF 5 readers in their classroom library.

Below on right, our ECF librarian,Ms. Sandra is helping children understand speech bubbles.