Column: Mapping out effective instruction

The following was authored by guest columnist Dr. Betty Ann Wykes, Rye City School District’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment. 

While students consider school closed for summer, teachers and administrators are busy engaging in various initiatives as they prepare for another successful year.

Educating children is a year-round mission; July and August are the months during which faculty members participate in professional development workshops, write curricula and take independent courses that will strengthen the instruction by which students excel.laura-Slack

Kindergarten through second grade teachers in the Rye City School District are working with their colleagues, including those in other grade levels, as well as consultant Shelly Klein. A great deal of attention is being placed on English Language Arts and extending the guided reading and Readers Workshop approaches initiated last year under the guidance of professional development leader and early reading expert Sharon Taberski.

Representatives from Osborn, Milton and Midland schools have collaborated with Mrs. Klein, developing key understandings and foundational knowledge based upon the Readers Workshop philosophy. This model includes five components: shared reading, mini lessons, independent reading, guided reading and read aloud. Collectively, these strategies provide students with a range of reading opportunities that develop strong reading and comprehension skills.

The initial planning session with Mrs. Klein involved teachers from all three grade levels who jointly examined best practices in literacy instruction and are now developing units of study for use in the coming school year.

Second grade teacher Elly Short said of Mrs. Klein, “She has brought so many ideas to the table and has really made writing curricula an enjoyable task. It has been a great experience working with her, and I am really looking forward to continuing our work throughout the year.”

The consultant will expand her work with teachers in the fall to include grades 3 through 5 as the district continues to focus on literacy instruction in the elementary schools.

This is a wonderful opportunity for teachers to utilize and build upon their collective knowledge in order to promote enriched learning experiences for Rye’s students based upon…best practices and the demonstrated needs of our students. The work of our staff complements our work with Sharon Taberski, which is centered on comprehension. It also provides us with a district-wide instructional plan.”

These efforts are all part of the district’s balanced literacy approach, which promotes fluency and independence in reading.

The goal is to take students from where they currently are to where the district knows they should be. We have strong expectations and continue to enhance the rigor in our program.