By Holly Bloodworth
K-5 teachers in Kentucky can receive three hours of graduate credit from one of the state universities absolutely free. Professional books, high-quality professional learning, stipend and coaching are part of the deal.
It sounds too good to be true, but all of this and more is available through The Collaborative Center for Literacy Development’s Kentucky Reading Project (KRP).
KRPs are held at each of Kentucky’s state universities, with literacy faculty and teacher leaders facilitating the learning. Every site focuses on the same key components – equity, theory, comprehension, vocabulary, content area literacy, phonics, writing, family literacy and much more. The project includes two weeks of learning in the summer, four follow-up sessions during the school year and a coaching visit.
Using data and self-reflection, each teacher creates a Literacy Action Plan to implement in his or her classroom focused on improving literacy instruction. Each follow-up session provides the opportunity for reflection and refinement of the plan. The Literacy Action Plan is a powerful tool that empowers Kentucky Reading Project participants to put into action the learning from the institute.
“I can honestly say that KRP helped me deepen my literacy knowledge and strengthen my literacy instruction,” said Patti Farmer, a 2nd-grade teacher at Hendron-Lone Oak Elementary School (McCracken County).
As a community of learners, KRP teachers engage in discussions and share experiences. Learning is deepened through the relationships that are formed. The culmination of the project is the statewide Share Fair held in the spring. This professional experience brings together teachers from all eight sites for a time of literacy learning, sharing and celebrating.
Teachers that have participated continue to feel the impact of the project. “KRP helped me see new ways to instill a love of reading in my kindergartners,” said Nancy Newsome from Murray Elementary. Veteran teacher Angela Morris from Marshall County added, “I learned more from KRP than any other class I have ever had!”
Too good to be true?
The Kentucky Reading Project is true and it is good.
Holly Bloodworth was the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year and is a National Board certified teacher. She has taught primary students for 28 years in the Murray Independent Schools, most recently as a Reading Recovery teacher and interventionist. Currently she is working with data and improvement science through the Kentucky Network to Transform Teaching and as a teacher leader on special assignment for the Kentucky Department of Education. Bloodworth also co-directs the Kentucky Reading Project through Murray State University.