Voices from the Field: Literacy Practices at Tier One: Shepaug Valley School

Submitted by Meg Porcella, Technical Assistance Provider

Recently, five members of the Shepaug Valley School’s SPDG leadership team participated in the Cohort 4 Literacy Training with 13 other schools. With a focus on core literacy practices, participants were asked to apply new learning to methods and materials “that will, proactively and with intention, provide access and equity for students with disabilities, students of color, and students acquiring English.” The school team divided into three groups in order to participate in a jigsaw- learning protocol in which one or two members of the team each attend a different breakout session and then prepare to “teach” the content of the breakout back to the whole team. The breakout sessions covered topics such as Access and Equity with Universal Design for Learning, Text-Dependent Questions, and Culturally Relevant Literacy Practices.

The interaction of the team members during the share-out portion of the jigsaw was informational and lively. The team expressed excitement about taking the information from different breakouts back to Shepaug’s faculty. Of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) breakout, Stephanie Davies summarized her new learning in this way: “The goal is to avoid retrofitting narrow methods to fit the needs of other students, do your best to prepare for the broadest number of people/students/learners from the get go.” Also, she said, “barriers are not internal to the learner; rather, barriers come from external constructs. Barriers to learning are not, in fact, inherent in capacities of learners, but instead arise in learners’ interactions with inflexible educational goals, materials, methods, and assessments.”

The Shepaug team is full of enthusiasm and ideas for strengthening Tier 1 practices for both behavior, through positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), and academics, through strengthening core literacy practices. This team is on its way to achieving the goals of the SPDG grant:

  • Development of a coordinated statewide system of academic/behavior continuum of supports;
  • Implementation with fidelity of scientifically research-based programs of positive behavioral supports and literacy instruction driven by common core state standards through models of multi-tiered interventions and a data-driven decision-making process
  • Improved academic achievement of all students in participating schools.
  • If you want to share your takeaways from the Phase 1 Literacy training, please post your comment below.