BCPS Partners with innovations for learning to improve student literacy
New innovative program will leverage technology to provide personalized learning for kindergartners and first graders.
L to r: Seth Weinberger, IDFL founder and CEO, Dr. Marie Wright, executive director, instruction and interventions, Broward County Public Schools; Superintendent Robert W. Runcie, Broward County Public Schools and Barbara Gilbert, IFL National Education Director.
By Tracy Clark Public Information Officer
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) has entered into a collaborative partnership with Innovations for Learning (IFL), an Illinois-based nonprofit organization, to implement a new literacy program that harnesses the power of teachers, tutors, and technology to deliver classroom instruction to 120 kindergarten and first grade classrooms. The new innovative learning model will impact approximately 2,160 students beginning in August 2013.
“This initiative is critical because students who do not master the art of reading by the end of first grade are severely impacted, across all content areas, throughout their academic career,” said BCPS Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. “Early intervention that is personalized to each student’s needs is critical in improving the rates of students who enter our second grade classrooms as proficient readers on or above grade level.”
The model focuses on student application of 21st century skills, featuring the implementation of mobile devices during literacy instruction, full-time literacy coaches to support implementation, corporate executives serving as tutors to facilitate student learning, and highly effective teachers equipped with the resources and strategies to create engaging and relevant learning environments, laying the necessary foundation to close the literacy achievement gap.
Literacy lessons will be provided for students through the use of mobile devices such as iPads, iPod Touches, and mp3 players. TeacherMate®, the system’s centerpiece, enhances classroom literacy instruction with computer-based lessons that allow students to work at their own pace, and provides teachers a system for frequently monitoring progress in literacy achievement. These lessons are interactive, allowing students to hear stories read to them, participate in literacy activities, and construct words and sentences on iPads and other mobile devices that bring motivation and engagement for learning.
Another important cornerstone of the literacy program is TutorMate®, a project that enables corporate executives and other office bound resources to donate one-half hour a week to facilitate student learning. Using their phones and their workplace computers, an adult tutor connects electronically with classrooms to read along individually with first-graders, capable of viewing what the student sees, and offering vital assistance and encouragement at the point of need.
“This is a one of a kind program in our District that leverages technology to maximize personalized literacy instruction and provides a unique opportunity for community leaders to tutor students in a manner, which minimally impacts their schedule, “said Executive Director, Instruction and Interventions, Dr. Marie Wright.
BCPS joins other school districts such as Miami, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Seattle to partner with IFL to address student literacy and help raise reading levels.
IFL officials said they are thrilled to begin working in Broward County.
“Broward is the rare example of a large urban school district that was able to see an innovative idea and move it through their process with enthusiasm and move it through quickly,” said Barbara Gilbert, IFL’s national education director. “Normally, it gets very complicated and takes a long time or you have departmental issues. Broward had none of that. It was very collaborative.”
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