Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Blog

It takes teamwork to make the dream work

3rd Grade Reading Guarantee: Five Lessons Learned When Supporting District Implementation

by | Dec 10, 2013
By Judy L. VanVoorhis, Ph.D. 
Senior Director at Battelle for Kids, K-3 Teacher Think Tank Lead

Battelle for Kids (BFK) has organized a K-3 Teacher Think Tank focused on building the knowledge and skills needed for sound implementation of the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee. This team, made up of 15 primary teachers from BFK’s OAC and SOAR collaboratives, participates in face-to-face professional learning days and continues their collaboration, learning, and sharing online when they are unable to be in a room together. Working with these teachers has been a rewarding growth experience for me (and, I think for them).

Ohio’s 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee includes three elements: teacher credentialing, sound intervention practices, and retention processes. Our collaboration is focused on sharing experiences, strategies, and best practices with each other, and learning from other Ohio school districts as well as districts from other states facing similar challenges. We plan to summarize our learnings in a forthcoming white paper, but thought we’d preview our findings in this blog series. 

How can we support teachers and school systems to effectively implement sound practices for the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee?

1. Be collaborative-minded – a little yeast goes a long way. 
Through my years in education, I have found teachers often hold the solutions for many of the challenges in our profession. Bringing a group of dedicated educators together around a problem of practice can yield tremendous results for the challenge put before them. The purpose of this Think Tank is to grow professionally, learn and problem solve together, and share knowledge and skills with teachers in their district and across all OAC and SOAR districts. 

2. Facilitate peer to peer sharing and learning – anytime, anywhere. 
We use a combination of face-to-face and online communication and collaboration. Using an online collaboration platform allows us to extend our learning and sharing beyond our formal meetings. 

The team started getting to know each other online even before the first time they met face-to-face. The first problem of practice they collaborated on was teacher credentialing and preparing for the Reading 5203 test. They coached and supported each other during the month prior to taking the test. 

3. Focus on the right stuff. 
Our focus is the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee and building the knowledge and skills needed to successfully implement strategies and supports. We collaborate around:
  • Providing all primary teachers with the knowledge and skills in the big five reading competencies, including phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. The team is currently sharing vocabulary and comprehension best practices they are currently using in their districts. In January, the Ohio Department of Education will provide more information about the knowledge and skills needed to effectively teach the big five reading competencies.
  • Sharing Reading Intervention Monitoring Plan (RIMP) templates and ideas, and discussing what is and is not working. Teachers are modeling effective RIMP plans using the new BFK PreK-3rd grade Common Core Vertical Progression Guide to scaffold and differentiate needed intervention and instruction.
4. Ask the right questions and allow time for investigation and inquiry.
As we got started at the first face-to-face meeting, I started by asking the team what knowledge they have on the status of their district’s implementation of the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee and what they wanted to know and learn. Their feedback helped guide our work together and helped us to focus on their needs. The majority of our inquiry time is focused on Standards Based Reading Research (SBRR) strategies. The majority of inquiry activities, questions, and prompts the team is engaged in are focused around intervention practices and what’s currently working in districts.  

5. Monitor district implementation processes.
As the team shares the knowledge and skills they’ve learned with their districts, we’ll continue to collaborate and share experiences. This will help us better support and work with the districts, and identify additional needs that should be addressed. 

What’s next?

The Think Tank’s next formal, face-to-face meeting is in December and will focus on specific intervention strategies and intervention practices with Dr. Antoinette Miranda. The BFK K-3 Think Tank Team will share additional intervention strategies to support students below grade level in the next blog. In the meantime, the team will continue to collaborate and share online. Stay tuned!

Please share your 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee experiences and questions in the comments below.