Since our formation in 2008, Chicago Literacy Group has supported literally thousands of teachers, coaches, and administrators in the implementation of reading and writing workshop instruction. We’ve been busy! Here are some of the highlights of our work.

Public, private, urban, suburban... In total, we’ve partnered with over 40 (and counting!) individual schools in Chicago and surrounding areas, all committed to fostering a love of learning, teaching toward independence, and developing student thinking, talking, writing and reading skills. We’ve coached teachers on:

  • WHY we teach using a balanced literacy approach (because research tells us to! because it works!)
  • WHAT to teach (which skills? what strategies? all the standards?) at what level, in what genre
  • HOW we effectively teach reading and writing (minilessons, small groups, conferences, read alouds, shared reading, word study and more...) organized in units of study

When it’s summer it’s time to...  attend our Literacy Summer Institutes!  In July 2013, over 250 Chicago public school teachers gave up three days of sun, sand, and sleep to attend our first annual Literacy Summer Institutes, “Bring On the Common Core!” We’re betting we’ll have almost twice the number of teachers join us at our July 2014 Literacy Summer Institutes to learn, grow, and lead around workshop teaching.

We think it’s pretty hard to argue against the need to create joy-filled classrooms that cultivate readers, writers, and thinkers, especially for our youngest students. Hence, the Kindergarten Counts and Pershing Primary Literacy Pilot training series, our two-year collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools Pershing Network. Over 100 kindergarten and first grade teachers across eighteen schools gathered monthly to observe, plan, and teach using a workshop approach.

For three years, we trained district and school-based coaches in Elgin School District U-46 around best practices in coaching and literacy instruction. In addition to these monthly Coach Connections, we sparked district-wide cohesion by engaging in thought partnership in the creation of the district’s Balanced Literacy Framework, facilitating bimonthly principal trainings, and introducing the Common Core State Standards to every teacher in the district during summer professional development.

We’ve had the honor not just to coach in existing schools in the LEARN Charter School Network, but also to support school leadership teams in opening five brand new schools. Week-long intensive summer institutes, year-long cycles of coaching work… the result is remarkable cohesion in literacy beliefs and practices across classrooms and schools.

In close collaboration with the Chicago Public School’s Office of Reading and Language Arts, we facilitated a yearlong “Comprehension Skills and Strategies” Saturday series for K-8 grade teachers. In addition, we developed the curricular materials and instructional coach training for the “Summer of Reading”, an opportunity to support K-2 students in nonfiction reading and writing.

It’s hard to believe we are moving into our fifth year of supporting Northbrook/Glenview District 30 in shifting their literacy teaching to a reading and writing workshop-based approach! Our work has included summer institutes, labsite coaching, grade-level seminars, and thought partnership with the district administration around curriculum, teaching methods, and resources needed to successfully transition to a CCSS-aligned balanced literacy framework.

We are gearing up for our third summer teaching the writing methods course for graduate students in the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP). Thirty hours of exploring our own writing process + delving into writing research + looking at student work + practicing teaching one another = new teachers prepared to hit the ground running.

Learning + Leading: A Chicago Literacy Group Session in Action

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