To help guide our teachers on the literacy education benchmarks we expected them to know, we used online professional development webinars through Reading Horizons.

Incorporating literacy instruction into all subjects, classes, and grades has made a significant impact on the learning environment for our school.

Not only have we measured improved reading proficiency, but we’ve seen a substantial influence on our teachers’ confidence as well. As they learn these new techniques, they can go back to their students confident that their lessons will be more beneficial for their continued literacy improvement. All we have to do is ask our staff to take a little time out of their day to watch the webinars and see how the method can be applied within their unique classroom setting.

Teachers Teaching Teachers

In the fall, we are beginning a new collaboration with schools in Prince Albert, roughly two hours south of Gordon Denny Elementary in La Ronge. Our professional development is evolving to include a “teachers teaching teachers” approach. New instructors with fewer than three or four years of experience will be able to come together to learn and collaborate on best practices for teaching literacy.

To help the program grow, our division has started collecting monthly data that we can use when promoting educator professional development. Other administrators have seen the numbers from our school and are already taking interest.

Our school now has more than 80 percent of our students reading at grade level. When asked, I tell people that our PD model is easy to duplicate. With access to online webinars to guide them, any teacher, whether they have an initial understanding of literacy instruction or not, can learn these fundamental techniques, and then take what they’ve learned to collaborative sessions with their peers to build and share more advanced skills.

The more teachers know about reading and how the language works, the more explicit they can be about assessing where their students are and what next steps they need to take to keep them moving on a forward path.

Methods like these can be applied at any stage of a student’s learning journey, and at Gordon Denny Elementary, we hope to continue developing our approach to improved literacy instruction for generations to come.

About the Author:

Cindy Young is the Vice Principal and special education instructor at the Gordon Denny Community School in Air Ronge, Saskatchewan, Canada. She can be reached at cindyyoung@nlsd113.ca.