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HEROES Profile- Zuri Collins

HEROES Profile      December, 2015     

Hellaawesome Educators

Revitalizing Oakland Education for Students

Our second in Educate78’s series to highlight the work of SEEDS of Learning.

SEEDS of Learning is a proven professional development program that provides teachers with strategies to building social emotional, language and literacy skills in young children.

Gloria Lee spent an evening learning about their work and speaking with teachers. Stay tuned to Educate78 to meet these Oakland HEROES.

A group of SEEDS PreK teachers met recently after work to see how well their students are doing and to share ideas on how to improve their results. The focus of this training of preschool teachers from around the city, particularly from West Oakland, was learning how to use student data to plan how they will help individual students in specific ways. The teachers dug into this technically challenging work with gusto.
First, they reviewed data of how students progressed from fall to winter on a range of assessments – including letter naming, letter sounds, rhyming, and vocabulary – that research indicates are strong predictors of literacy readiness for kindergarten.
All students were shown as on or above target, near target, and far from target. The students who are far from target are not on track to be ready for kindergarten. Kate Horst, instructor and founder of SEEDS of Early Literacy, emphasized that the students who are behind will likely stay behind if they enter kindergarten unprepared.  She also celebrated the big growth children had made so early in the year. After reviewing the data, Horst prompted teachers to identify best practices, noted below, for moving scores into the green (on or above target) and out of the red (far from target).
What did you do that moved children to have so much more language and vocabulary?

  • We repeated reading alouds with the same book each of the weeks and made our themes reflect the new vocabulary.
  • We made sure that we gave children time to think and respond to our questions.
  • I gave children descriptive affirmations and encouraged them to talk more.
  • I did fun songs every day.

How can we support children who are far below target?

  • I need to spend more time having conversations with the children who are far behind so they can practice using vocabulary.
  • The children low on letter sounds transitioned into the classroom late so they missed the beginning of the year work we did. We can use time each day to work with them to catch them up.
  • I can sing a rhyming song with them each day on the way outside.
  • I can make sure I spend time with her during free choice time listening to her ideas and encouraging her to talk.
The educators at the Y are particularly inspiring. They know every child will succeed if given the opportunity and they are willing to try new strategies, support each other and hold each other accountable to giving kids daily evidenced based experiences to help children become joyful, respected and capable learners. They believe in and love their young students and their students have shown big gains!
Susan True

Kenneth Rainin Foundation

60 Seconds with Zuri Collins

Know any Oakland HEROES?

If you know of any HEROES in your school community to feature, let us know!


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