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March is Reading Month for UP schools

March is National Reading Month and many schools across the United States celebrate with a kick-off for Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2. The intense focus on reading activities in March is exciting for students, and teachers are always looking for ways to keep the excitement going all year long. But if it’s March, teachers also know that the end of this school year is quickly approaching and all of Michigan’s Read By Grade 3 Law’s policies will go into full effect.

As the Read By Grade 3 Law (RBG3) developed, one fortunate by-product was an increased statewide focus on early literacy. There has been a heightened sense of urgency in identifying and addressing students with reading difficulties. Locally, one strategy was the establishment of an area-wide Literacy Leader Network. Our local districts are represented and the group is led by the Copper Country ISD Literacy Coach, Angie Elmblad. This has been great for local districts and students, as they have been able to meet, collaborate, and tackle many issues that face our local schools, teachers, and early readers.

Overall, there has been a much bigger focus on collecting and utilizing student data to inform decisions on which students receive extra instruction, and what type of instruction is used. The Literacy Leader Network has improved communication and instruction both within and between districts. The increased communication has helped educators area-wide in selecting and delivering high-quality, appropriate reading instruction and interventions. This process supports the collaborative efforts from teachers, parents, and support staff to build and implement the Individualized Reading Improvement Plans (IRIPs) required by the RBG3 Law.

Many of the Literacy Leaders have attended professional learning opportunities to gain valuable insights and acquire educational materials that were brought back to their districts, including meeting with the nationally-recognized educational leader, Dr. Nell K. Duke. The Literacy Leaders are indispensable when it comes to sharing their learning, such as the focus on utilizing Michigan’s Literacy Essentials, a set of research-based practices that have had positive impacts on literacy development. Literacy Leaders help districts implement these strategies in classrooms area-wide, as well as help teachers access these materials and information through online modules.

Chris Kulju, the first-grade teacher and Literacy Leader from Stanton Township Public Schools, says, “Having our school be a part of the Literacy Leader Network has been an integral part of making sure we are ready for when the RBG3 Law goes into effect. We’ve really dialed in on identifying which students need extra help, and the extra communication between grade levels at our school, as well as with leaders from other districts, has really helped us draw from a wide bank of strategies to try.”

The Literacy Leaders Network continues to work passionately to improve and enhance early literacy instruction for all students. The Copper Country ISD’s commitment to this work is supported through the hiring of an additional Literacy Coach for the next school year and beyond. We look forward to continued growth, collaboration, and supporting every child in every classroom every day.

To learn more about Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law, visit michigan.gov/mde or contact your local school.

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