Ensuring the best literacy education in Marshalltown schools

Two years ago, Marshalltown Schools first partnered with the University of Northern Iowa’s Jacobson Center to implement exemplary literacy practice.

The district’s Language Literacy Framework was designed to create a rich language literacy environment to improve student engagement and learning. Partnering with the UNI, teachers are implementing instructional components that are key to creating an environment of exemplary literacy practices. In Marshalltown Schools, these components guide our work and help us to determine the professional learning needs:

Teachers are trained to deliver literacy instruction that employs the workshop approach for meeting the needs of all students. This includes a balance of whole group instruction, small group instruction, and individual conferences within the reading and writing curriculum.

Demonstration classrooms are identified as settings where teachers meet together to learn from one another and support each other in implementing this literacy practices.

High standards that are based on state, national, and professional standards align with specific district learning targets.

A seamless assessment system is developed that includes multiple measures for evaluating student achievement.

Literacy interventions meet the needs of struggling learners using Reading Recovery, and classroom and supplemental group interventions in grades K-12. This type of structure means teachers can react to student needs and help struggling students improve their literacy before they fall behind their peers.

Throughout this process collaborative learning communities help teachers implement these measures. Collaboration is part of the school climate, with literacy teams, teacher book clubs, peer observations, demonstrations and professional learning.

An instructional coach from each elementary school, as well as Lenihan, will end this school year with training with the Jacobson Center. They will continue to learn and grow as educators as they work with district teachers to ensure best practice across Marshalltown. In addition, Marshalltown Schools is working to train interventionists to implement the CIM model that works closely with the literacy Framework.

As teachers continue to improve the way they teach literacy, our students and our community will benefit.

Elizabeth Overstake in an instructional coach at Woodbury Elementary.