Lubec is one of five Washington County Schools that were involved in the Rural Adolescent Literacy Project coordinated through the LAB at Brown University. The initial project took place between April 2002 and May 2005, with on-site efforts starting in the Fall of 2003.
How it began Several Lubec teachers participated in a six-hour graduate course co-sponsored through the Washington County Consortium for School Improvement and offered through the University of Maine. As importantly, in the first two years, high school teachers have met monthly with facilitator, Roz Weizer, from the LAB at Brown University to learn new strategies, share what they are doing, and look at student work. In between those sessions, Jim Roberts serves as the literacy coach in all five-project high schools. In his capacity, Jim works in the classroom with teachers to model the use, planning and implementation of the research-based adolescent literacy strategies.
How it works Teaching students how to read complex novels, manuals, textbooks, articles, websites, lab reports, poems, etc. across the content areas, is something that middle and high schools need to address if students are going to meet the higher academic standards being set by the state of Maine. Motivation is also an issue for many students-if they do not like to read, they often don't. This means that high schools need to really engage students with authentic reading and writing activities to get their literacy habits and skills up to speed.
Grant funding for this project ended in June of 2005. The Lubec Consolidated School system made the decision to continue the work, and hired Jim Roberts as their Literacy Coach, one day per week beginning in the fall of 2005. Jim is the owner of Down East Educational Development Services, Inc. (D.E.E.D.S. Inc.).
Moving forward Schools that participated in the Washington County Adolescent Literacy Project are a few steps ahead with their ability to design and carry out an effective schoolwide literacy action plan. Others want to know-and want to visit, to see how the work has improved teachers' professional development and student learning.
What students do Students at Lubec are reading and writing more in every class. The literacy project is designed to make good use of the laptops as well. Walk into Lubec classrooms and the work students are doing-posters, presentations, papers-cover the walls and hallways. Teachers are expecting-and getting-higher quality work from students.
Expansion to all grades Starting in the 2005-06 school year, the literacy work expanded from the high school, to include grades Pre-K - 12. Jim began to support teachers with similar coaching strategies that he had been using for the past several years at the high school level. In addition, in-house professional development started two times per month for all teachers. Every two weeks after school, Karen Dunn, the high school English teacher and Jim Roberts would provide professional development to all staff members. The expectation was that teachers would receive professional development pertaining to proper use of strategies and also receive in class coaching after to further support their efforts.
Progress This model occurred during the entire 2005-06 and 2006-07 school year. Teachers at all grade levels were teaching, modeling and reinforcing the use of specific adolescent literacy strategies, across all content areas. A literacy open house was held and the work of teachers and students started to emerge from the classrooms into the hallways for everyone to see and celebrate. The use of literacy strategies has suddenly become a part of how we operate in every classroom.