Young students getting more support with early literacy

Prince Edward Island’s youngest students are getting a stronger start in writing thanks to provincial government support.

As part of the province’s new provincial literacy plan, government is investing $700,000 to hire new early literacy coaches, purchase classroom resources, and specially train teachers to help young children learn to write. The provincial plan is based on feedback from teachers, principals, literacy specialists, and the results of provincial assessments.

“Literacy is the foundation for all learning, and our youngest learners must always be our highest priority,” Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown said. “I’m very pleased to see the provincial literacy plan being rolled out and resources being targeted to these important early school years.”

Several K-3 initiatives are being initiated this year.
•    A writing instruction program is being implemented in 39 schools 
•    This fall, 165 teachers of Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 are participating in professional learning in writing instruction. 
•    K-3 principals are participating in training on writing instruction.
•    75 grade 3 teachers took training in the spring on developing effective lesson plans for writing, and they continue to work with coaches to improve their teaching in this area
•    Eight additional coaches have been hired and assigned to elementary schools to support writing instruction
•    New classroom resources have been purchased with investments of $150,000
•    Beginning this year, the province will use a new early development instrument to measure children’s development during their kindergarten year. 

The new Lucy Calkins classroom resources being introduced are widely known to be effective in helping K-2 teachers assess and improve their students’ writing. The Calkins model is a collection of units that helps students build writing skills across grade levels, beginning in kindergarten with drawing which is an important pre-writing skill.

Teachers are now receiving training on the new resources, with 40 central and eastern schools attending an in-service on October 3. Another 35 teachers in western schools will receive instruction on October 10. Pre-service teachers from the UPEI Bachelor of Education program are also invited to attend.

Charlene Matthews, elementary literacy coordinator and workshop facilitator, said teachers are focused on two main things: helping children to build stamina in their writing and to generate their own ideas for their writing. 

“When children build stamina in their writing they write for longer periods of time, and they write more often – while applying the skills and strategies they are learning in class,” she said. “When children become independent writers, they take ownership of their writing and the teacher becomes the coach who is there to support them.”

Media contact:
Jean Doherty

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