Literacy First is a comprehensive model for literary instruction. Teachers participate in five days of professional development during the first year and three additional days during the second year. Training relating to effective leadership for instruction is provided for site principals and curriculum facilitators.
A very strong emphasis is given to the development of efficient site instructional schedules that devote a significant block of time to literacy instruction. The professional development activities guide teachers in using whole class lessons to develop students’ oral language and vocabulary skills and to engage students in meaningful discussion in pairs or trios. The emphasis is on keeping students actively involved in manipulating the content of the lesson objective. Teachers are also trained to use flexible skill groups for systematic explicit reading instruction in the areas of mechanics of reading, phonological awareness, phonics, spelling, advanced decoding, comprehension skills and strategic reading skills.
A strong emphasis is placed on formative assessments to drive the daily reading instruction. Teachers must assess students on a regular basis to ensure that instruction is leading students to improve deficits and to verify that students are accomplishing reading objectives. These assessments must be sensitive enough to identify the particular learning needs of each child.
The Literacy First framework for instruction closely follows the requirements of the Oklahoma Reading Sufficiency Act including ongoing assessments in phonological awareness, phonics, reading comprehension, reading fluency and spelling. The most effective instruction for all students falls in that area of thinking or action in which a child is unable to perform independently but can be successful with assistance through the instructional process. Ongoing assessments guide teachers in planning instruction based on each student’s level of reading skills. Also, plans for intervention are developed for students whose performance falls below the expected level of progress. Additional instructional assistance beyond the regular classroom may be designed for individual students when appropriate.
The Literacy First instructional framework does not require the use of any specific set of instructional materials. A variety of reading texts including fiction and nonfiction selections are used as well as other instructional materials to reach the learning objectives at each grade level.