As part of it's "Top 10 in 10 Years" initiative, the Michigan Department of Education has identified a literacy crisis in the State of Michigan. An alarming number of students are not proficient readers and Michigan's literacy rank in the nation is projected to worsen over the next several years. To help close this gap, the State awarded grant funds to Intermediate School Districts to hire early literacy coaches to work with teachers in the districts they serve. Gratiot-Isabella RESD is using these funds to empower teachers to continue solving student learning challenges long after the grant funds have run out.
Every building with K-2 students in the GIRESD identified one or more literacy leaders to be a part of this learning network. Participants include classroom teachers, as well as Title I interventionists. The group has been participating in professional learning on the collaborative learning process and have been pinpointing problems of practice they are seeing in their schools. Groups are identifying their area of focus through the work of Jenni Donohoo (Collaborative Inquiry for Educators: A Facilitator's Guide to School Improvement and the Transformative Power of Collaborative Inquiry), as well as GELN's K-3 Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy document. Two collaborative inquiry groups are focusing on phonemic awareness, one group is focusing on student engagement and another group is focusing on comprehension.
The goal of this model is to empower teachers to lead collaborative inquiry groups in their respective buildings (with support from GIRESD staff). By creating culture of shared efficacy, we believe this model will provide the skills and structures needed for teachers to meet learning challenges now and in the future.