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Thousands of books are arriving at HISD middle schools daily, and they are being placed in all core-subject classrooms—not just English and reading.
This massive influx of books is a vital key in the new initiative known as Literacy in the Middle, a three-year plan to to increase literacy in middle schools. The program aims to continue the great work accomplished through the Literacy By 3 initiative, which was launched in 2014.
“As HISD has worked to boost literacy among its younger students, the district is now expanding the successful Literacy By 3 program to include middle schools,” said Officer of Secondary Curriculum and Development Annie Wolfe. “Explicit instruction in reading and writing is crucial if we are going to create effective readers and writers who succeed in all subject areas.”
District middle-school English Language Arts and reading classrooms are receiving on average 360 books to create classroom libraries. Additionally, book-club libraries—25 sets of 10 books each—are included to allow groups of students to read and discuss the same book, fostering engagement and a shared culture around reading. Books for read-alouds are also included and ensure students hear models of how effective readers and writers make meaning of texts.
In addition to English Language Arts classrooms, every social-studies classroom is receiving 100 books, science classrooms are getting 75 books, and math classrooms are getting 45 books. These content area classrooms will also receive relevant monthly magazines, so students can dive deeper into their units of study. In addition to classroom libraries, every grade level will receive a Comprehension Tool Kit to assist teachers in planning effective reading instruction.
It is imperative students read in all core classes. Reading only in English Language Arts classes does not ensure students are receiving the recommended 120-minutes a day research shows they need to be successful in high school and beyond. Increasing the time per day students read is not the only benefit of these classroom libraries. These books provide students will access to a variety of texts on various reading levels and on various topics. They also help create a learning environment which allows for more student choice and independence. The aim is to create independent readers who choose to dig more deeply into a book without help from a teacher.
Throughout the summer, middle-school teachers were trained to effectively implement the use of these libraries as well as on the Literacy in the Middle four key components:
- Read-alouds: Students engage in teacher-facilitated read-alouds to think critically about literature, articulate and support ideas about books, and build comprehension of fiction and non-fiction texts.
- Small-Group Instruction: Students read grade-level texts in small groups, which benefits both struggling, on-level, and advanced students.
- Independent reading: Students read texts that they have selected themselves to expand their comprehension of more complex books.
- Writing Instruction: Students engage in writing tasks in each subject to increase understanding and provide evidence of that understanding.
The goal of Literacy in the Middle is to ensure students leave middle school with the academic literacy skills required for academic success in high school and beyond.
Teachers and administrators, Tweet photos with your books using the hashtags #Shelfie and #HISDLIM.
To learn more about Literacy in the Middle, watch this video.