As part of the Reading Team’s commitment to provide leading-edge professional development to our instructional staff, we enroll our Literacy Mentors in a course on the Orton Gillingham Method of reading instruction, in a series of workshops on how to teach writing to young children, and in a seminar on engaging young children in Mindfulness Meditation. Reading Team Literacy Mentors typically participate in over 50 hours of professional development in their first year in one of our programs and over 30 hours of professional development per year thereafter.
Our Program Director and PS 36 Site Director meet weekly with our Literacy Mentors to review each child’s progress and academic challenges and to make recommendations for improvements to our instructional programs.
The Orton-Gillingham Method
Each year, our Literacy Mentors attend a graduate level course for teachers on the multisensory Orton-Gillingham-based approach to teaching reading, handwriting, spelling, and comprehension. The Reading Team uses the Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction for all our pre-kindergarten through second grade children and, to a lesser degree, for our older children. Language-based and success-oriented, the method employs phonetics and emphasizes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles. Instruction focuses initially on language structure and shifts gradually into reading, handwriting, and spelling. Students move step by step through a predictable sequence that integrates reading, writing, and spelling, and they receive immediate feedback.
Reading Team Literacy Mentors participate in a series of writing workshops each year that enrich and inform their writing instructional programs. They learn how best to support their students' efforts to write essays, short stories, and informational texts; how to encourage inquiry and collaboration among the children; and how to teach the children to use technology to support the research and writing process.
Each year, our Literacy Mentors take part in three workshops that teach them how to engage their students in Mindfulness activities. A growing body of research tells us that children who engage in Mindfulness activities develop and strengthen their attention, calmness, impulse control, interpersonal skills, and executive function. We have noted these changes in Reading Team children and credit Mindfulness with supporting our efforts to create a culture of calm engagement at the Reading Team.