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Spotlight on Middle School Literacy
Saturday, March 19
• Rexie Lanier
• Janel Dowling
• Trisha Warner
Background information
• Info about our district…
– McLean Co. Unit 5
– Normal, Illinois
– 3 middle schools with about 1,000 students in each
– 6,7,8 configuration
• Who are we and what are our roles
– Rexie Lanier
– Janel Dowling
– Trish Warner
What does it stand for?
Illinois Partnership for Comprehensive Literacy
The Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy (PCL) model is a school improvement
initiative dedicated to increasing student achievement.
• Vision
To develop self-regulated learners who meet rigorous state and national academic
• Mission
To develop self-regulated learners with the capacity to guide and monitor their
learning to meet the needs of a global society.
• Goal
To develop a seamless transition across school programs, curriculum approaches,
and assessment systems where best practices in literacy instruction are
implemented to create intellectual environments that make literate thinking a top
priority for students.
Unit 5: Educating each child to achieve personal excellence.
Partnerships across the United States
10 features of PCL
1. Framework for literacy
2. Coaching and mentoring
3. Lab classrooms
4. High standards
5. Accountability
6. System interventions
7. Professional Learning Communities
8. Well designed literacy plan
9. Technology
ESAIL: Environmental Scale for
Assessing Implementation Levels
• Criterion 1: Creating a literate environment
• Criterion 2: Organizes the classroom
• Criterion 3: Uses data to Inform instruction
and to provide research-based interventions
• Criterion 4: Uses a differentiated approach to
• Criterion 5: Uses assessment wall for schoolwide progress monitoring
ESAIL: Environmental Scale for
Assessing Implementation Levels
• Criterion 6: Uses literacy coaches to support
teacher knowledge and reflective practice
• Criterion 7: Builds collaborative learning
• Criterion 8: Creates and uses school plans for
promoting systemic change
• Criterion 9: Uses technology for effective
• Criterion 10: Advocates and spotlights school’s
literacy program
Data informs our decisions
Criterion 1 was decided as an area of focus
(1=Not yet, 2=approaching, 3=meeting)
• School 1 – 1.9 average
• School 2 – 2.0 average
• School 3 - 2.8 average
Features within Criterion 1
• 1. Reading responses through drawing,
writing or art are displayed on walls and in
• 2. Writing drafts and/or published pieces are
displayed on walls and in hallways
• 3. Diverse reading materials are enjoyed,
discussed and analyzed across the curriculum
Literacy Calendar
Work done through literacy teams.
1 featured activity each month.
9 months
Each middle school plans 3 months of activity
to be shared with others.
• Each school can make the lesson plans their
September—Book Goals
• Students and staff were invited to make a
reading goal for the school year.
• These goals were simultaneously displayed on
the front lawn of each middle school.
Local coverage
PDF to book goals
September—Staff Reads
• Every staff member was invited to create a
visual poster of a favorite summer read.
• One school used a computer template,
another let the teachers get crafty, and the
third put the posters together for their staff.
• PDF to staff reads
September—Back to School Book
Classroom library initiative
Books, books, books!
PDF to Book Drive
September—Barnes & Noble Day
Need more books!
Ask them and they will come…
Students, staff, families, and more!
At the end of the day, almost $1,400 was
raised to buy books for the classroom library
PDF to Barnes & Noble Day
October—Why I Write
• A literacy activity where we invited students
to think about why they write.
• Some students journaled, others made
posters, and some went digital…
Why I Write
Why I eat Bacon
October—Six Word Memoirs
How would you describe your life so far in just
six little words?
October—Six Word Memoirs
• Based on a literacy event started by Smith
• Many were created and posted around the
school, but others once again went digital…
Six Word Memoir
Six Word Memoir
November: The Book of Awesome
A list of suggested activities:
Read aloud a few “awesome” entries each day.
Have students write their own “awesome” entry.
Write your own “awesome” entry to share with students/other staff.
Make a class book of each student’s own “awesome” entries.
Invite families to write their “awesome” book/entry.
Have students keep a log or journal to make observations of all of the
awesome things in their world.
Tie their “awesome” things they discover with what they are thankful
for (Thanksgiving Holiday).
Use stories for journaling or reader’s response.
November: The Book of Awesome
PDF pictures of November’s activities
December - Spectacular Sentence
• Students found a spectacular sentence in print.
• Students pointed out sentences in their
independent reading.
• Students noticed spectacular sentences in
textbooks or other texts.
• Students mirrored the writing styles of these
• Sentences were on display in a variety of ways.
PDF of Spectacular Sentences
January: Students READ!
• Students created posters or displays
showcasing what they consider a MUST READ.
• Posters or displays were shared throughout
the buildings.
• The community, staff, and students view to
enhance their awareness of books being read
by students.
PDF January pictures
February: Quotes & This I Believe
• Staff and students found a quote that spoke to
• Quotes were put on display throughout the
middle schools.
• Some teams wrote “This I Believe” paragraphs
or essays based on the NPR series.
PDF of pictures
March – Read across America
• Students fondly remembered books from their
childhood or books that they have read to
their siblings. Favorite Books
• Students looked at National Lists of the top
100 children’s books.
• Students completed a “What Book Am I?”
template to discover what influenced them as
a reader/writer. What Book Am I
April – Poetry
• Students will be invited to explore the
relationship between poetry and lyrics.
• Other teachers will offer a “Poem in Your Pocket.”
• One school is working with its drama club to put
on a poetry performance.
• One of our digital media teachers is ahead of the
game as always!
Example of Poetry
Example of Poetry
May: One Word
• Students and staff choose one word that will
represent who they are or what they believe.
• 900 + words will be written on cardstock and
displayed in the front lawn of each building to
share with the community.
Evaluation of our Implementation of
the Literacy Calendar
• End of the year reflection and next steps
• Literacy team chairs and administrators from 3
buildings will come together for reflection and
next steps…
• "Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful people can make a
difference, in fact it is the only thing
that ever has."
-Margaret Mead
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