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Promising Practices - Strong Foundations - ELG - Full Story
Read the Full Story
Englewood School District and Fountain-Fort Carson School District
The word Miss Katie Hoiland was teaching to about a dozen kindergartners was “meadow.”
“I’m going to draw a picture,” Hoiland told the class. “What color do I use?”
The class shouted, “Green!” Hoiland drew a field of green.
“Everyone say, ‘Meadow,’” Hoiland asked the group. They repeated the word as she pointed to it on a white board along with a list of other words.
“Oh, my gosh! Kiss your brains," she said. "You are so smart!”
The next word is “flower.”
“Whisper the word into your hand and throw it at Miss Hoiland,” she instructed.
For the word, “stump,” children stood up and pretended to be a tree being chopped down. For “hive,” the class sounded it out in a squeaky bee-like voice and then turned to their neighbor and to explain that a hive is a home or a shelter for a bee. These are all words found in a story she was reading to the class.
To ensure they understood the story, Hoiland used a variety of action steps within her lesson to build familiarity with the words, including acting out the words, sketching visual representations, whispering words and meanings to their friends. The next day they will use the words to help Miss Hoiland write a movie script.
This is one example of a many layered approach to teaching children literacy in Aragon Elementary School, a Title 1 school in Fountain-Fort Carson School District No. 8, south of Colorado Springs. More than half of the students at Aragon are minorities and 75.5 percent are eligible for federal meal benefits, a measure of poverty. The school had struggled with reading achievement until 2016-17, when it received an Early Literacy Grant from the Colorado Department of Education to help embed essential components of reading instruction into all elements of teaching structures.
The grants have been a bright spot in the state’s efforts to improve reading at the earliest grades. A total of 62 schools around the state have received nearly $9 million in ELG grants since 2013, which pay for literacy curriculum, training and literacy coaches, among other things. The funding comes from revenue from retail marijuana tax.