A Coherent Approach to Literacy Teaching and Learning
The goal of Literacy Collaborative is to assure high-quality literacy instruction and success for all students in grades K–8. We achieve this goal by building professional capacity of your school’s administration, leadership team, literacy coach, and teachers.
Literacy Collaborative is about strengthening school culture and getting everyone on the same page about the most effective ways of teaching reading and writing—from school leadership and literacy coaches to the classroom teachers.
This national initiative supports improved literacy achievement by:
- Providing a research-based, instructional model grounded in authentic literacy experiences that are student-centered, language-based, process-oriented, and outcome-based
- Enhancing literacy leadership through training and supporting school-based leadership teams, administrators, and literacy coaches
- Establishing long-term site-based professional development and coaching for every member of the school’s literacy faculty
- Helping schools develop program evaluation plans to analyze student achievement data to focus their professional development and coaching most effectively
A Design for School Improvement Based on Teacher Expertise
In schools that implement the model, all teachers use the same instructional methods that have been proven to improve student outcomes. The teachers regularly and systematically observe and assess their students. That way, they can respond to the differing needs of each learner in their classroom through whole-group, small-group, and individual literacy instruction.
Literacy Collaborative is based on the belief that teacher expertise is the most important element in improving student outcomes. Therefore, central to the program is the role of the highly-training literacy coach or teacher leader. Literacy coaches and teacher leaders are a resource for all teachers in the school. They provide professional development to the teachers about best practices, and support them in their classroom instruction.
Literacy coaches and teacher leaders complete an intensive training with Lesley faculty—on campus and online—to prepare for this important role.
Implementing Literacy Collaborative
Comprehensive school improvement is a long-term process that involves the whole school community. When a school or district joins Literacy Collaborative, they're entering into a partnership with the University training site. This means receiving ongoing support from the university's faculty.
Here's how we work with schools and districts that are participating in the model.
Phase 1: Forming a Literacy Leadership Team
The literacy leadership team creates a common vision for literacy teaching and learning in their school. (This phase can happen the year before or concurrently with phase 2, the training year.)
The team may look a little different at each school, but typically has 6 or more members representing these roles: Principal, literacy coach, teacher leader, classroom teachers from different grade levels, special education teacher, ELL teacher, and other literacy professionals.
We strongly recommend that the members of the school's literacy leadership team participate in these 2 trainings on the Lesley campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or at their school for a group (upon request):
- Literacy Leadership Team Institute, Grades K–8
- School Leaders Seminar: What Every School Leader Needs to Know About Effective Literacy Teaching, Coaching, and Teacher Leadership in Grades K–6
Phase 2 (Year 1): Literacy Coach Training & Classroom Practice
The school’s literacy coach (or teacher leader) starts their intensive training at Lesley University with a cohort of coaches from other schools. The training is tailored to the group by grade level: K–2, 3–5, and 6–8.
They participate in 4 weeks of face-to-face training on the Lesley campus, spread out over the year, with the first week beginning in July or August.
Between the week-long training periods, the literacy coaches complete 120 hours of online coursework. And, for the entire school year, they teach the literacy block in one classroom in their school every day, with the same group of students. That way, they have first-hand experience in the teaching methods that they'll be coaching their colleagues about later.
A Lesley faculty member visits each participating school to meet with the principal, coach, and literacy leadership team to support the work of the coach in training.
Literacy Collaborative Courses
The coaches record videos of their teaching and coaching, and complete readings, case study assignments, and reflection papers. The literacy coach earns 9 graduate credits from Lesley University upon completion of the training.
Here are the three, 3-credit courses they take during the training year:
EEDUC 6056: The Reading Process, Texts, and Teaching in Reading Workshop
This course will give you a deep understanding of theory and practice in the reading process and how children's processing changes over time; an in-depth knowledge of the features of texts, characteristics of genre, and an understanding of how to match texts to readers for effective teaching; and teaching within an organizational framework for reading workshop. We give attention to children who struggle and to children whose first language is not English.
EEDUC 6057: The Writing Process, Students as Learners, and Teaching in Writing Workshop
This course is designed to help you develop deep understandings of theory and practice in the writing process and how children develop as writers over time; the use of assessment to inform ongoing instruction; supporting learners through inquiry into genre craft, and conventions of writing, and how to use an organizational framework for teaching in a writing workshop. We give attention to working with children who struggle learning and those whose first language is not English.
EEDUC 6051: Multiple Roles of the Literacy Coach
This course gives you the opportunity to develop theoretical knowledge and skills necessary to work as literacy coaches in their schools or districts. You'll gain experience in how to develop and work with school literacy teams, plan and implement professional development sessions, and provide collegial coaching around the reading and writing processes and the implementation of reading, writing, and language/word study workshops.
Phase 3 (Year 2): Field Year
The literacy coach provides professional development to the school's teachers about literacy teaching and learning. The coach also meets with teachers one-on-one to provide support. For example, in a coaching session, a teacher might talk about a recent lesson in their classroom—what went well, what didn't go so well—and the coach might provide suggestions for the future. The coach hasn't necessarily watched the teacher's lesson. That's because the coach's role is not to supervise the teacher, but rather be the teacher's equal partner in education and a resource.
Phase 4 (Year 3 and beyond): Ongoing Professional Development
It's essential for literacy coaches to continue their work to expand their skills in teaching, planning professional development, and coaching. All literacy coaches attend professional development training at Lesley University for one week (5 days) each year, and their administrators come for 2 of the days.
Over the course of the week, the coaches engage in new learning and strategies that they can bring back to their schools. It's also a time to network with other school teams.
Year 3 is also when the benefits of Literacy Collaborative Affiliation kick in. Participating schools receive a 10 percent discount on several of our other workshops and trainings, as well as research and data analysis support, faculty support, publications, and other benefits.
Benefits of an Active Literacy Collaborative School
Find out more about what you get with the Literacy Collaborative affiliation fee.
Primary Faculty Trainers
Assistant Director, Primary Programs
Cynthia Downend has worked at the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative for 10 years, serving in the roles of primary level literacy trainer and currently as the assistant director for primary literacy programs.
Cynthia has worked with many school districts across the United States to train and develop district level literacy staff developers, literacy coaches, classroom teachers, literacy interventionists and school administrators on a variety of topics related to improving literacy instruction.
Prior to her work at Lesley University, Cynthia held positions as a literacy coach, Reading Recovery teacher, and classroom teacher for over 20 years working in a variety of school settings including urban, suburban, and international schools.
Cynthia holds licenses in both elementary education and school administration, and achieved National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Primary Literacy Trainer Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative
Prior to joining the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative as a Primary Trainer, Heather was a Kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth grade classroom teacher in Middletown, CT for 16 years. She was also a Primary Literacy Coordinator for five years where she provided literacy training and coaching to K-5 teachers. In addition, she was a member of the Connecticut Department of Education Common Core State Standards Curriculum Design Team for English Language Arts.
Primary Literacy Trainer
Julie Sneed is a primary literacy trainer at the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative. She has worked as a literacy coach while co-teaching kindergarten and first grade. Before training as a coach, she served the children and families of the Boston Public Schools as a teacher of special education, second grade, and first grade.
Primary Literacy Programs Trainer
Courtney has an B.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and earned a Masters in Elementary Education from George Mason University. She joins us from Fairfax County Public Schools, VA where she has 8 years of experience in Title 1 schools. Her teaching experiences were focused in the primary grades where she taught 1st and 2nd grade and served as a Reading Recovery teacher. For the past two years, Courtney was a Literacy Coach and trained in Intermediate Literacy Collaborative.
Intermediate Faculty Trainers
Assistant Director, Intermediate Literacy Programs
Helen Sisk has worked at the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative for nine years in the role of intermediate and middle school level trainer and currently as the assistant director for those programs. In these roles she supports the literacy training of staff developers, coaches, classroom teachers, and literacy interventionists. She works with administrators in improving literacy instruction within their schools.
Before coming to Lesley University, Helen worked in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. She was a classroom teacher, a reading specialist for grades K-8, a Reading Recovery teacher and an intermediate district trainer for Literacy Collaborative.
Intermediate/Midle School Literacy Trainer
Jillian Fountain is an intermediate literacy trainer at the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative. She worked as a language arts consultant in Harwinton, CT and a remedial reading and classroom teacher in Hartland, CT, where she also organized scientific research-based interventions (RtI).
Intermediate and Middle School Faculty Trainer
Seema Sgobbo is an intermediate/middle school trainer within Lesley's Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative. Prior to joining the Center, Seema taught within several districts in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts.
Seema’s teaching experience spans grades prekindergarten through college with roles including Reading Recovery teacher, Title I teacher, Reading Specialist, as well as Literacy Coach.
Seema enjoys working alongside students, and teachers alike, in the field of literacy.