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Elementary Literacy

Elementary Literacy

MPS Instructional Vision K-5

At Minneapolis Public Schools, our mission is to “provide a high quality, anti-racist, culturally responsive education for every Minneapolis student." In literacy this looks like:

  • Reading (vocabulary, fluency and comprehension)Writing 

  • Viewing, Speaking, Listening 

  • Oral Language Development 

  • Foundational Skills/Word Work (phonemic awareness and phonics)

What Do We Need for Accountability and Fidelity?

Because of these values and beliefs around literacy instruction, we see:

  • A Balanced Literacy Framework of instruction using Benchmark Advance/Adelante curriculum following the pacing schedule

  • Students engaged in cognitively demanding tasks and complex texts

  • Teachers spend more time questioning and less time showing and telling

  • Students engage in daily collaborative conversations 

  • Teachers create a culture in the classroom where all students see themselves as readers and writers

  • Students using reading and writing as a tool to be critical consumers of texts and media

What Do We Need for Implementation?

Literacy is included in MPS' four priorities (K-5):

  • All teachers identify themselves as literacy instructors

  • Teachers believe our students’ unique backgrounds and experiences are the foundation for their literacy

  • Classrooms are print rich and provide culturally relevant materials where students see themselves and their experiences and are inclusive of social emotional learning

  • Teachers understand expectations for student work that meets and exceeds standards

  • Common message around progress monitoring and intervention in alignment with special education and school psychologists

What are the components of Literacy at MPS

In MPS, our framework for literacy includes a balance of reading, writing, and word work and foundational skills and are explicitly taught using a gradual release of responsibility. This is built on the five core components of literacy instruction:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Vocabulary
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension

How is phonics a part of Literacy?

MPS uses Benchmark Advance/Adelante* as part of our Literacy curriculum. The curriculum includes 20 minutes daily of phonological awareness and phonics instruction for all students in K-2, and grammar and vocabulary are included in the curriculum for all grades. The intervention materials also have both phonological awareness and phonics skills checks and lessons. Cuing or phonics should never be taught in isolation,  but always in combination with each other. The core curriculum and intervention materials support instruction through explicit direct instruction, assessment, small group work, individual conferring and interventions, if needed.

Some MPS schools are using Groves Learning Organization, Functional Phonics, or Really Great Reading for foundational skills instruction. These programs provide a systematic approach and a clear scope and sequence for foundational skills instruction.

PRESS is a research based interention model from the University of Minnesota that some schools are using for Multi-tiered Systems of Support.

Minnesota, and most other states, have adopted Common Core Standards, which include a section of standards on foundational skills such as phonological awareness and phonics standards.

*Advance is MPS’s core literacy curriculum Adelante is the Spanish version of Advance. Dual language schools use Adelante as their core literacy curriculum. They also use Estrellitas in grades K-2 for Spanish Phonic instruction. 

Have MPS teachers been trained in phonics instruction? 

All MPS K-5 teachers received professional development in August on 2019 on how to use Benchmark Advance/Adelante to teach either foundational skills (phonics) grades K-2 or word study for grades 3-5. 

School sites with GLO, PRESS, and/or Functional Phonics have, and continue to receive, professional development on their site specific resources throughout the school year. We continue to offer site-based PD for any teachers or schools who need more support.

Some instructional leaders and elementary teachers are being trained in LETRS starting this year and receiving a stipend for their time. According to Lexia Learning, "The LETRS® (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) Suite is professional learning that provides educators and administrators with deep knowledge to be literacy and language experts in the science of reading."

Tools used in K-5 Classrooms

Literacy encompasses several practices and a new literacy curriculum was rolled out in 2017-18 across PK-5. The comprehensive Benchmark Advance/Adelante program is used in grades K-5 and LETRS has been offered to all K-5 schools.

Together, we can build a community of literate citizens who can and will read in order to deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them, and effectively communicate their unique perspectives.