Education starts with literacy. Teaching children to read, enjoy reading, read well, and retain what they read is fundamental and gives students a real chance to succeed in most other subjects.
While teaching reading is a basic component of elementary education, teachers are constantly seeking new information to support advancements in classroom instruction. Teachers in Maryville are embracing a new process called RTI or Response To Intervention, which provides new tools and methods for readers and offers research-based intervention to individual students who may be struggling. In recent months, teachers across Tennessee have been collaborating to implement a new three-tier model for reading instruction. At the same time, new reading textbooks were adopted statewide and teachers have been incorporating those new materials into the curriculum.
Support for reading and reading intervention doesn’t stop after elementary school. Teaching professionals who focus on reading are working with students in all grades to improve skills and create individual learners who understand the importance of reading and reading well.
In-service days for teachers offer critical opportunities to learn and share. Professional development for teachers is important, especially as new research changes the focus and techniques for instruction. On Nov. 5 over 330 Maryville teachers participated in a daylong literature event which targeted literacy, reading, standards development, and much more. Event organizer Stephanie Thompson, assistant director of schools, said “Evaluations are very strong from participants, indicating not only a high level of interest in literacy, but significant need for this type of professional development at all grade levels.”
Dr. Sharon Faber, literacy expert, author and contract consultant for Modern Red SchoolHouse and Literacy First delivered the keynote address. Assistant Commissioner of Education Susan Bunch presented information to teachers and administrators on the new Tennessee Diploma Project. This new initiative announced by Governor Bredesen last spring will position Tennessee to join 29 other states to address student readiness for college and work. Staff who participated in the presentation learned about potential changes to course requirements for graduation, new standards and courses offered at the middle and high school levels, and anticipated modifications to current testing requirements.
Other speakers included Deborah Wooten, assistant professor of literacy at UT; Dr. Valerie Copeland Rutledge, UTC department chair in the Teacher Preparation Academy; Lou Ann Walker, elementary educator with over 30 years experience teaching hearing impaired, first grade, and at the college level. Twenty-four Maryville City Schools’ educators conducted workshop sessions.