TTU Literacy Champions: Leading the Way to Balanced Literacy with LISD

As the 2016-2017 school year gets underway, so Lubbock Independent School District (LISD) campuses will see Texas Tech University literacy champions in their classroom as part of the East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood (ELPN) grant.

East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood

As the 2016-2017 school year gets underway, some Lubbock Independent School District (LISD) campuses will see Texas Tech University literacy champions in their classrooms as part of the East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood (ELPN) grant.

In an effort to fulfill LISD's need for balanced literacy, a framework based on a wide range of reading and writing activities, the two agencies have formalized a collaborative partnership through an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU will help strengthen existing ties between Texas Tech and LISD, by pairing six College of Education faculty members, who are leaders in the field of literacy and are known as literacy champions, with six high need LISD campuses.

"Literacy plays such an important role in the lives of children and adolescents both in and outside of the classroom," said Mellinee Lesley, associate dean of the College of Education and one of the six literacy champions. "We need to be present in classrooms to support teaching students and mentoring teachers using evidence-based literacy strategies that will ensure students develop the literacy skills they need to be college and career ready."

This is not the first year the Literacy Champions will be on LISD campuses. During the 2015-2016 school year the literacy champions brought well-known authors into classrooms, led reading groups, arranged writing-focused field trips, worked with small groups of students in classrooms, and hosted a summer writing camp on the Texas Tech campus in an effort to promote a wide array of literacy activities. The Literacy Champions also spent the year cultivating a spirit of partnership with teachers, staff and administration at each campus and getting to know students.

"At each campus, we really saw an overall change in attitude in regard to reading and writing," Lesley said. "In fact, I have been working with an Estacado High School student who is interested in starting a creative writing club, something that will not only build literacy skills, but also help shape his leadership skills."

During last year's pilot, the Literacy Champions formed strong bonds with not only the LISD students, but also the staff and administration.

"With the Memorandum of Understanding in place with, we will be better able to nail down our deliverables, continue to promote best practices, and actually conduct research that will tell us if the Literacy Champion model is effective," Lesley said.

The Literacy Champions, consisting of Lesley, Amma Akrofi, René Saldaña Jr., Julie Smit,. Patriann Smith, and Dr. Ana Torres, plan to conduct a district wide comparative analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and aid in determining if LISD should sustain the model.

The six LISD campuses include four elementary schools: Alderson, Ervin, Hodges, and Harwell, one middle school: Dunbar College Preparatory Academy, and one high school: Estacado High School.