The Vernon School District is ensuring all students have the opportunities and support to develop in their literacy proficiency.
Director of Indigenous Education, Charity Sakakibara, says, “A focus on equity will spark courageous conversations throughout the district and community and lead to the transformative change needed.”
The district has clear goals to raise the level of literacy proficiency for all learners and to close the gap that exists for its Indigenous students, students with diverse needs and children in care.
Ensuring all students have equitable access and opportunities to develop their literacy skills is an important step toward the transformative change.
Over the past number of years, there have been opportunities and initiatives to deepen teachers’ understanding in supporting students’ literacy learning. The provincial curriculum recognizes that, “Literacy is the ability to understand, critically analyze, and create a variety of forms of communication, including oral, written, visual, digital, and multimedia, in order to accomplish one’s goals.
Vernon School District’s Curriculum Department Learning Directions Team is actively supporting schools and teachers through professional learning opportunities to grow understanding in current approaches and research in literacy across the district.
“We need to continue to ask questions, look at the data and research, and challenge our beliefs and understanding of effective literacy practice so we continue to find ways to be responsive to our learners,” said Luke Friesen, director of instruction for student learning with the district.
This year there has been a strong focus on the primary years with a number of initiatives to support approaches to teaching literacy.
Through the introduction of key resources and professional learning focused on phonemic awareness, interactive read alouds, shared reading, conferring, independent reading, and workshop model, teachers have engaged in opportunities to collaborate and learn alongside their colleagues.
Recently, the district began working with Dr. Donna Kozak, early language and literacy consultant, to begin conversations around systemic literacy practices and explore ways of becoming more responsive to the needs of our early learners in Kindergarten and Grade 1.
Kozak emphasized the importance of taking a systemic approach to ensure coherence in early literacy assessment, instruction, and support for all students across the district.
Later this year, the district will introduce a comprehensive literacy framework that will provide a foundation to guide and support a system wide approach to literacy. It will have a strong focus on inclusion.
“Through these initiatives and approaches to literacy we have an opportunity to identify student strengths more clearly, engage them in authentic and personalized learning experiences, and close the equity gaps,” said Vernon School District superintendent Dr. Christine Perkins.
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