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Literacy Without Limits

In August 2017, I submitted an article to the School Notes section of this newspaper introducing Charlotte High’s new Literacy Initiative. We are now in year three of implementation and I would like to share our progress and some things that we have learned along the way.

Literacy is so fundamental to learning that its importance cannot be overstated — it is the essential foundation of education. The ultimate aim of the Literacy Initiative at Charlotte High remains the same…to equip our students with the necessary literacy skills that they need to take control of their destiny and fulfil their potential.

In the fall of 2017 the Literacy Initiative provided curriculum and instruction designed to develop students' literacy skills at all levels, grades, and disciplines. With a focus on the writing process students experienced increased opportunities to compose in every content area in an effort to hone writing skills across the curriculum and demonstrate career and college readiness in all disciplines. Everybody used their own content and we helped teachers learn to incorporate open-response writing in their classes so the students were exposed repeatedly throughout the year to this writing process.

In year two of the Literacy Initiative, we saw the creation of a committee-driven by data. The changes made by the Literacy Committee have produced an increase in the level of participation by both the students and the teachers. We saw an increase in compliance during the week of administration for each department and an increase in the compliance for the process from the students.  Active reading and planning are becoming more commonplace in the classroom, and scores are improving as students advance grade level.  Additionally, based on feedback from the committee, the school-wide rubric was modified to have the teacher rate both the student’s active reading and planning. This has provided us with new data that we did not have last year giving us insight into the quality of effort put forth in the process of the initiative. The addition of scoring active reading and planning on the school-wide rubric has increased the student understanding of the terminology and therefore, proven to increase the frequency of literacy skills being used in day-to-day activities.

As we plan for the third year of the initiative, the committee’s goal is to change the culture of achievement from compliant and on task to interested, hard-working, and passionate. Content is what we teach, but there is also the how, and this is where the literacy initiative comes in. There are an endless number of engaging, effective strategies to get students to think about, write about, read about, and talk about the content. Our hope is that literacy will be positively ingrained in the culture of the school with teachers and students able to genuinely feel the impact it is having on academic achievement.

It may be common to believe that literacy instruction is solely the charge of language arts teachers, but this is not so at Charlotte High. Everyone is responsible for every student and it is our responsibility to figure out how best to help. Hard work is the magic ingredient.  It is absolutely possible to bring about positive change in the school house and we look forward to see where the Literacy Initiative will take our students in the future.

Submitted by: Cathy Corsaletti,

Principal Charlotte High School