Focus on literacy expands to HISD high schools with Literacy Empowered

In 2014, HISD launched Literacy by 3, a program with the goal of having all students read and write on grade level by the end of third grade by 2019. In the summer of 2016, the district followed with Literacy in the Middle aimed at middle school students. Now, the literacy focus is expanding to high schools. Called Literacy Empowered, the program is training teachers on how to implement best practices for improving literacy in all four core classes.

“In the coming school year, we are allocating more district resources and tools to support and grow secondary students as readers, writers, listeners, speakers, and thinkers through professional development, online training modules, and just-in-time sessions,” said HISD Chief Academic Officer Grenita Lathan.

High school principals were invited to attend a two-day training in mid-June, and all core content high school teachers are being trained the week of June 26 at Waltrip High School. A follow-up training opportunity will be offered to high school teachers during the week of July 17 at Ortiz Middle School. English Language Arts teachers will attend four days of training June 26-29, July 17-20, or July 24-27.

During training sessions, participants will explore and apply the elements of Literacy Empowered, including disciplinary content, literacy best practices, hands-on experience, and instructional technology. For instructions on registration, see this link.

“In the training sessions, our teachers are learning about independent reading, writing, and discourse, and they are also learning about new resources that are coming to their classrooms this fall,” said Secondary Curriculum and Development Officer Annie Wolfe. “We know that interventions are needed now for our students who read far below grade level, but we also want to put systems in place from elementary all the way up into our secondary schools to make sure that tier-one instruction is adequately addressing the literacy needs of our students.”

HISD has approved $2 million for the program. All high schools will receive books and digital classroom libraries—300 books for ELA classrooms and 250 book club books for other classrooms. Each campus will receive a campuswide license for Achieve 3000, which offers personalized articles for students at their reading and interest level. Campuses will also receive comprehension toolkits and additional classroom libraries for ninth- and 10th-grade reading-intervention classes.

The focus will be on independent reading, writing, thinking critically, and student discourse in a one-to-one classroom environment.

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