District Launches ELA Pilot in Elementary Schools
As Heather Ledwin sat at the center of a table shaped like a half moon, four of her third-grade students fanned out in front of her, watching and listening intently.
The group was one of several in different pockets of Ledwin’s classroom working in literacy centers. Some in these small groups re-read a story to search for context while others practiced word study. Another group of students benefited from a lesson on their laptops.
The goal remains to learn and improve in all areas of literacy, but, for some this school year, the process has changed and will have an impact on future curriculum in the Hendrick Hudson School District.
“As a teacher, you really want to see if this is helping them grow as a reader, a writer, a listener and a speaker,” Ledwin said.
Mrs. Ledwin is one of four teachers at Buchanan-Verplanck Elementary School who are piloting new ELA programs. Similarly, over the course of the next several months, teachers and students in each of the district’s three elementary schools will play an important role in determining which program Hendrick Hudson will use in future years.
The process will be ongoing at each school. Teachers will meet regularly with one another, with members of the pilot team at their school, and with members of pilot teams in the other elementary schools. They will also meet monthly with Dr. Margaret Ruller, the district’s Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction. There will be significant collaboration and brainstorming to give everyone involved a better understanding of each new program.
“We hope to come to a conclusion as to what program we want going forward using all of the data we have,” said Danielle Cohen, another third grader teacher at B-V.
Teachers at all three schools will pilot two literacy programs, Wonders and Into Reading. They will compare them based on their experience — from the ease of starting the program and materials available, to the strength of the assessments — and gather data to track the students’ progress.
Other classes in each grade level will continue with the district’s current ELA curriculum. The resulting data from both teams — the classes piloting the new programs and those that are not — will provide a major benchmark.
“We will look at the results of the assessments,” said Nicole Meyers, a second-grade teacher at B-V. “We will be able to see what our kids are learning from the program.”
All of the teachers and Dr. Ruller stressed that they hope to come to a consensus by late winter or early spring.
Both of the pilot programs are fully integrated and include reading, writing, word study, vocabulary, and grammar. Teachers will consider how valuable the materials — both tangible books and workbooks and the digital library — can be for all learners, including for those students who aren’t native English speakers.
“We want to make sure that whatever program we decide in favor of meets the needs and has the proper materials to help all students of all levels across the board,” second-grade teacher Sabrina Pereira said. “We will need to make sure we are able to differentiate and modify when necessary.”
While the teachers and students are only weeks into these new programs, they’ll still have months to experience them in greater depth. Members of the pilot team at B-V have created a Google document to track their experience and share their findings with their colleagues.
Cohen said all of that collaboration has a purpose.
“We want to be able to make the best decision possible,” she said.