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Evolution of Literacy Studio

The Evolution of Literacy Studio in District 28

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Literacy Studio is a model that evolved over a long period of time. In 2007, Northbrook teachers began investigating how comprehension strategy instruction supports deeper understanding in informational and narrative texts by engaging in a book study of “Mosaic of Thought: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction” (Keene & Zimmermann, 2007). In doing so, they moved away from reading whole-class novels with accompanying comprehension questions. Teachers widened the scope of their understanding of word learning and comprehension, assessment and instruction, writer’s workshop, and the Common Core State Standards.

In 2010, teacher representatives created a curriculum scope that was revised to include the Common Core State Standards. The literacy scope became the foundation for the initiation of new reading units developed in 2015. In this same period, writing units were developed based on a workshop model. The units were revised in the summer of 2018, to better integrate reading and writing experiences for students. In addition, guidance documents were created for teachers to bring more clarity and consistency to Literacy Studio learning across the district. Most recently, “Patterns of Power” (K-5, grammar instruction and writing conventions), “Handwriting Without Tears” (K-2, multi-sensory strategies for handwriting instruction), “Words Their Way “(K-5, word study for phonics, vocabulary and spelling instruction), and “Amplify” (6th-8th ELA curriculum) were added to complement the curriculum.


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Research overwhelmingly indicates that student performance in reading is enhanced by integrating writing instruction and student writing quality increases as a result of applying skills taught in reading. Tierney, et al show that the most effective teachers integrate writing applications when teaching reading and vice versa. They show how this integration cuts down on long lessons from which students remember little, making time for students to engage in real reading and writing. Other researchers (e.g. Pearson, Dole, et. al. 1987) show that separate reading and writing lessons are often redundant and that students are more likely to learn critical reading and writing skills when they are presented simultaneously and when they are given an opportunity to apply the new skills in reading and writing, often choosing which to try first (reading or writing) as they begin to use the skill.


"Mosaic of Thought," 2nd edition (2007) by Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann
"Reading With Meaning," 2nd edition (2012) by Debbie Miller
"To Understand" (2008) by Ellin Oliver Keene
"Study Driven" (2006) by Katie Wood Ray
“Engaged Reading as a Collaborative Transformative Practice” (2015) research article by Gay Ivey and Peter Johnston