Reading: Creating Meaningful Conversations

By Michelle Syverson, MBUSD Literacy TOSA

Growing readers and writers is one of my passions. There is a magic to the experience of watching reading and writing come to life; witnessing growth, forming connections, and developing understanding are just a few pieces to this puzzle we call literacy. In 2010, MBUSD adopted the workshop method/pedagogy for reading and writing as a signature practice. I was on board from the start and eager to use this instructional practice in my classroom and learn all it had to offer. In the years to follow I received in-depth professional development which lead to: becoming a writing trainer of trainers for teachers, hosting teachers in my classroom to observe, serving on the district literacy committee, and, in the summer of 2017, becoming the K-12 MBUSD Literacy TOSA. MBEF not only funds this coveted position, but believes the work which offers literacy support to teachers, students, administrators and parents, is invaluable.

Working and supporting teachers with reading and writing instruction is one job of the Literacy TOSA. This includes professional development, which includes personalized one-on-one support for teachers, small group sessions for planning and analyzing student data, literacy presentations at staff meetings, site-based workshops at school sites, and new teacher support.

    

Pushing in to classrooms during instruction time has been one of my favorite parts. A few highlights from this year’s work include:

  • Conducting Grand Conversations in Alissa Opfer’s kindergarten class at Meadows
  • Bringing teachers to observe reading workshop in Christine Jewett’s classroom at Robinson
  • Teaching narrative writing to 6th graders in Jeff Lee’s classroom at MBMS
  • Bringing new teachers to Pennekamp to observe Anna Gralnik’s fifth graders having a Grand Conversation
  • Kim Price conferencing with first graders about their nonfiction reading progress.

The value of classroom observation for any teacher, at all levels of experience, is by far one of the strongest ways to inspire and foster growth.

Reading and writing development can be a struggle for some, and not all students love it or see the value. The strongest tool is connection. We lead by example and find opportunities to engage our learners whenever we can, as often as we can. Thinking of our own process in the development of these skills can shed some light on motivation and connection. Your children’s interests and passion may hold the key to opening their minds to the excitement of new knowledge and perspective found in what they read.

Parent workshops create the perfect space to bridge the home/school connection. Research shows that the combined effort of school and home support for learners accelerates and solidifies learning. Parents are teachers too! Talking about newly acquired knowledge and perspective lifts learning to a higher level. In the latest MBUSD parent workshop “Engaging Your Child in Meaningful Conversations About What They Read”, parents are presented with support materials and useful insight about how the power of conversation can guide children of all ages to new levels of connection and understanding. Simply understanding your child’s interests can lead to supporting their growth as readers. Asking your child to teach you something they learned when reading a nonfiction text lifts their level of understanding. Making connections of any kind when reading, whether it be a text-to-self, text-to-text, or text-to-the-world connection, is providing opportunities to open the mind to new ideas and thoughts. A third workshop has been added on Thursday, February 15th at 9am in the Pacific Elementary Cafeteria.  Register here to attend: Engaging Your Child with Meaningful Conversations About Reading. Fostering literacy development goes far beyond the words on the pages of a book, article or journal.

While MBEF generously supports MBUSD by funding TOSA support in reading, writing, math, and personalized learning, the impact goes far beyond. We are molding tomorrow’s leaders by providing our community with the tools needed to acquire 21st century skills. Communication, collaboration and teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, strong character development, along with the integration of technology and digital tools will prepare our youth for the complexities of the modern world. The opportunities our MBUSD students have through the programs supported by your contribution to MBEF is what makes our district one of the best!

Michelle Syverson – MBUSD Literacy TOSA – MBUSD employee for 23 years

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