Supporting Reading and Writing at Park Avenue

Supporting Reading and Writing at Park Avenue photo
Supporting Reading and Writing at Park Avenue photo 2
Supporting Reading and Writing at Park Avenue photo 3
A consultant from Teachers College, Columbia University recently visited Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School to support teachers with the continued implementation of the Reading and Writing Project.

Instructional coach Anna Sheehan spent time with fourth- through sixth-grade teachers in an effort to support the literacy initiative that Amityville first adopted two years ago. Ms. Sheehan modeled a group lesson in one classroom at each grade level, as all English Language Arts teachers from that grade observed. She then demonstrated small-group and individual conferences with students, to discuss their reading and writing progress. 

After each model lesson, Ms. Sheehan met with the teachers from that grade for a debriefing session. Park Avenue teachers were able to ask questions based on their own classroom experiences. 

Principal Robyn Santiago said that Ms. Sheehan will visit 10 times during the school year for in-house professional development. This builds upon the four-day Reading and Writing Institute that was held in the district in the summer of 2016, attended by more than 100 Amityville teachers. In between Ms. Sheehan’s visits, Park Avenue Instructional Coach Melissa Wiederhold provides support to the teachers.

The purpose of the literacy initiative is to have students more engaged in reading and writing through individual choices. Teachers work with students to find “just right” books — literature that a child finds interesting, is on his or her reading level and is not too hard but not too easy. 

“Every child has a different book in their hands,” Ms. Santiago. “They’re reading books that they’re interested in. Children have to read every single day because that is how they get better.”

Students keep reading logs to document the stories they read, how many pages at a time, how many minutes and whether it is at school or at home. These logs provide teachers with valuable information during the one-on-one conferences.  

Ms. Santiago noted that the improvements in reading and writing abilities are already being noticed within the school as a majority of students have moved up two or more reading levels within the past year. It is also contributing to improved performance in other subject areas, as Ms. Santiago said math teachers are seeing improved comprehension of word problems.