Washington School for Comprehensive Literacy (K-5) is a charter school and is part of the Sheboygan Area School District. All K-5 students residing within the attendance area defined by the Board of Education are assured enrollment. If space allows, other students will have an opportunity to attend through a voluntary enrollment process. If more students wish to enroll than can be accommodated, selection is by random drawing. Names will be drawn by family name so that if there is more than one child in the same household requesting to attend, we can assure that all from the same home can attend if that family’s name is drawn. All names are drawn to establish a waiting list.
We are the first school in the state to adopt the “Comprehensive Literacy Model” developed by Dr. Linda Dorn et al from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This school wide reform includes ten major features:
- A Framework for Literacy: Large, uninterrupted blocks of time are set aside for reading and writing instruction. Components include Readers’ Workshop, Writers’ Workshop, Language Study, Shared Reading, Familiar Reading, and Read-Aloud. Reading and writing are taught in a workshop format which includes five components: Mini-lessons focused on specific strategies, skills, or procedures; small-group instruction organized around Guided Reading/Literature Discussion; independent practice/working with peers to promote transfer and application of knowledge; one-to-one or small group conferences to promote deeper comprehension; and whole group share time/discussion in which students share written pieces, books they are reading, reflection logs, etc. The teacher provides differentiated instruction within the child’s Zone of Proximal Development, what the child is capable of learning/accomplishing with scaffolding provided by the teacher. The workshop format is used in math, science, and social studies also, promoting curricular integration and a seamless transition for students. Importantly, children have easy access to a wide range of interesting books that match their current literacy developmental level and independent reading is a significant part of every student’s day.
- Coaching and Mentoring: Two full-time extremely well-trained Literacy Coaches model research-based literacy instruction and mentor teachers as they take on these approaches.
- Model Classrooms at each grade level in which coaches work intensively as the teachers implement the literacy framework. These classrooms become learning labs for other teachers.
- High Standards based on local, state, and national standards in reading and writing. The Model aligns these standards with a variety of formal and informal assessments, curriculum frameworks, instructional materials, school organization and management, and the way teachers are trained so as to establish a “seamless transition” as students move from grade level to grade level. When children are not successful meeting a standard, the standard is not lowered but the intensity of the supplemental support is increased.
- Accountability for Student Progress based on a School wide Assessment System that allows teachers to monitor student progress and quickly establish Intervention Teams to create plans for supplemental support that provide double and triple “doses” of high-quality literacy instruction by highly-trained Intervention Specialists. The Assessment System provides a clear means for monitoring success of the Model in all classrooms and for making needed changes.
- Supplemental Early Intervention that includes Reading Recovery at grade one and high quality small-group instruction for K-5 students who need extra help in targeted areas. Intervention is undertaken immediately to meet the child’s specific needs.
- Professional Development that is job-embedded and includes weekly grade-level team meetings led by a Literacy Coach. These provide explicit training in literacy components and practices; scoring and analyzing reading, writing, and spelling assessments; studying student writing portfolios for skill progression; analyzing videotaped lessons; observing “behind the glass” instruction, etc. On-going Professional Development is the backbone of this model.
- A Well-Designed School wide Literacy Plan that includes short and long-term goals and
benchmark indicators for monitoring progress.
- Technology that includes networking opportunities for working together in program development/ implementation across sites nationally promoting a collaborative support system.
- Spotlighting, which includes celebrations of student success as well as site-visits by other schools who want to see the Comprehensive Literacy Model.
Four books by Linda Dorn guide our school’s implementation of the Comprehensive Literacy Model: Apprenticeship in Literacy: Transitions Across Reading and Writing (c. 1998); Shaping Literate Minds: Developing Self-Regulated Learners (c. 2001); Scaffolding Young Writers: A Writers’ Workshop Approach (c. 2001); and Teaching for Deep Comprehension: A Reading Workshop Approach (c. 2005)