New Literacy Lab is on a Roll at Shawnee ECS

New Literacy Lab is on a Roll at Shawnee ECS
Posted on 10/02/2020
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Lit Lab collageMany Shawnee ECS kindergarteners are saying it is the favorite part of their day. It’s not recess. It’s not lunch. It’s when the Literacy Lab rolls into their classroom.

The Literacy Lab (or Lit Lab) is a new initiative at Shawnee that provides Tier I instruction. Typically, Tier I instruction is when an educator teaches the entire class a lesson based on a specific grade level standard that is appropriate for the average reader.

What’s different about Lit Lab? It provides differentiated Tier I instruction to all kindergarten students, meeting them where they are and growing them through creative, interactive stations and small group instruction.

Assistant Principal Traci Hummer, along with Reading Specialist Laura Mason, spearheaded the development of Lit Lab and enlisted Title I teacher Meghan Massa to bring it to life. The Lit Lab cart is full of creative, hands-on activities to help kindergarteners develop a love for reading and literacy.

“We set high expectations for ourselves and our students,” said Hummer. “Our goal is that each student receives at least 30 minutes of meaningful, guided skill group work every day.” In order to meet this expectation, Hummer and Principal Kevin Thomas allotted resources a bit differently to provide the materials and personnel necessary for the Lit Lab.

“This is truly a team effort, and it makes my heart happy to see the Lit Lab in action,” said Hummer. “Kids love the activities, teachers love the collaboration, and our Reading and Title team loves the opportunity to let their expertise and creativity shine!”

In order to maintain social distancing and safety, the original idea for Lit Lab had to be altered. With the help of the classroom teacher and a paraprofessional, Massa brings the Lit Lab into each class every day with individual supplies for each student, supported by the school’s PTA.

“By being intentional with time, funding and personnel, the Lit Lab is helping us reach our goal of growing all kids in the area of literacy while making it FUN and EXCITING,” said Hummer.

Massa agrees. “I am in awe with how engaged, motivated, and curious the students are at each station. It really shows that children can develop a love for reading and literacy at young age, and this will carry on with them throughout their education.”

One of the most meaningful outcomes from the Lit Lab thus far has actually occurred because of COVID-19. At the listening station, teachers cannot pass around the physical book for the students to look at, so instead students visualize the book as it is read to them. As students become less concerned that their drawings look like the ones in the book, the Lit Lab team is being graced with diverse illustrations of Goldilocks, the Three Bears, and the homes in which they lived. 

“It is amazing how students are making connections to their own lives, identifying with characters and settings,” said Hummer. “English Language Learners are also making valuable connections between their native language and English counterpart. Students with special education services are also receiving another layer of support within the general education setting and with their peers. Lit Lab is relevant and inclusive of ALL Students.”