ARI Literacy Leadership

October 2021

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The Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) is a statewide K-3 initiative committed to supporting the development of high-quality instruction that will prepare all students with the literacy skills needed to meet or exceed grade-level standards. The goal of the ARI is to significantly improve reading instruction and ultimately achieve 100% literacy among public school students.


Reading, writing, and spelling are essential skills for literacy learning in school and beyond. Students who do not develop these skills in their early school years are likely to struggle their entire educational journey. The importance of receiving early explicit, systematic instruction and intervention has a huge impact on preparing these students to graduate college, career, and life ready.

Please join us in supporting and promoting “Dyslexia Awareness Month” by providing awareness and understanding of dyslexia in your district, schools, and communities. If you have questions, please contact Mrs. Patrice Harvill, Alabama Reading Initiative, by email at The following links will connect you with resources needed to get started planning for Dyslexia Awareness Month:



Join the IDA- Alabama Branch as they run and walk for dyslexia! Register now for the 2021 Virtual Dyslexia Dash.

Pick the date and time you want to run or walk your 5K, then post your best time between October 2-16, 2021.

Proceeds from this event will support parent training and advocacy efforts in Alabama.

Your friends and family can help you make a difference.

Register NOW


The Circles of Influence will continue to FOCUS our work and serve as a vehicle for improved literacy achievement. When all the circles work collaboratively and simultaneously, students will be successful. During your initial data meetings (ASSESSMENT), your school teams (COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP) identified strengths and areas of growth from your data. Your team should have also identified literacy strategies, professional learning opportunities, and developed next steps to inform instructional decisions and program implementation. Now what? Now, it is time to engage in regularly structured instructional walkthroughs (INSTRUCTION & INTERVENTION) to "look for" evidence of student learning and coaching.

What Are Instructional Walkthroughs?

An instructional walkthrough is a strategy used by many principals to gather classroom information. The walk-through can be defined as a brief, structured, non-evaluative classroom observation by the principal that is followed by a conversation between the principal and the teacher about what was observed. The walkthrough can provide both principal and teacher with valuable information about the status of the school’s instructional program (Hamilton, 2019).

Why Use Instructional Walkthroughs?

“This we know: reading failure can be prevented in all but a small percentage of children with serious learning disorders. It is possible to teach most students how to read if we start early and follow the significant body of research showing which practices are most effective." Dr. Louisa Moats, Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science, 2020.

Children can learn to read. Instructional walkthroughs allow school leaders the opportunity to ensure instruction is effective and equitable for all learners. During an instructional walkthrough, principals observe firsthand if the instruction is explicit and systematic, aligned to the science of reading, and if students are getting ample practice opportunities to engage with the targeted skill. Instructional walkthroughs are also an opportunity to determine if the instruction mirrors coaching support and/or the professional development provided. School leaders must spend quality time in classrooms to ensure all students have the opportunity to learn how to read.

How To Get Started?

Key Practice 1: Establish a clear purpose for walking through classrooms.

Key Practice 2: Communicate the purpose of the walkthroughs with your staff.

Key Practice 3: Select, adapt, or create a tool that the group will use to achieve the purpose of the walkthrough (a sample tool can be found below).

Key Practice 4: Keep the debrief focused on your purpose. Key Practices for a Successful Classroom Walkthrough – Ensemble Learning

Effective principals inspect what they expect! It is crucial for school leaders to develop a habit of spending time in classrooms. Leaders should get into the practice of engaging in walkthroughs and providing feedback to ensure that growth is developed in teachers and students. According to Mausach and Morrison, "Feedback is the fertilizer of professional learning. It helps nurture and accelerate growth."

  • “Providing strengths-based feedback enables us to engage with teachers in a way that honors the work they’re doing while helping them grow as learners.”

  • “Principals need to validate effective practices and help teachers refine and reflect on their methodology.” –Sweeney and Harris

Your ARI support team is ready to join you on your instructional walkthroughs. Please schedule a collaborative walkthrough with your regional leadership specialist.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle


Goal of the Alabama Literacy Act

To implement steps to improve the reading proficiency of public-school kindergarten to third grade students and ensure that those students are able to read at or above grade level by the end of third grade by monitoring the progression of each student from one grade to another, in part, by his or her proficiency in reading.


The local reading specialist should provide feedback in ways that stretch learning, but also honor partnerships with teachers. In order for feedback to transfer to practice, local reading specialists must view adult learners in a positive light. It is helpful to remember that everyone is on his/her own learning progression, and effective feedback is what educators need to continue growing (Sweeney & Harris, 2017).

The key to measuring coaching impact and giving quality feedback is to look directly at student work. Keep the focus on student learning. It is important to know if students met the learning goals that were set at the beginning of the coaching cycle. This data inform teachers if engaging in the coaching cycle was an effective use of their time and for specialists to know the impact of their work (Sweeney & Harris, 2017).

Coaching Expectations

Local reading specialists should spend approximately 60% of their time in coaching cycles, whether they are full or mini coaching cycles. The other 40% can be spent on activities such as co-planning with teachers, analyzing data with and without/teachers, weekly principal meetings, consultations with teachers prior to PST meetings, buddy visits, and the coaches' professional learning just to name a few. After every Coaching Community, Local Reading Specialists will be required to provide turnaround trainings on the 2021 ELA Course of Study to all classroom teachers throughout the course of the 2021-2022 school year. Each turnaround training is approximately 1 hour, and will cover a different component of the 2021 ELA Course of Study. Principals should support specialists with meeting these expectations by providing the time for them to turn around these trainings in a timely manner. Principals should also encourage the special education department and interventionist, ESL teachers, and school librarians to attend the turn around training.

Completed Training:

Concepts of Print and Oral Language - September Coaching Community

The Results-Based Coaching Tool provides a record of what occurred across a coaching cycle. It begins with a goal for student learning and ends with a close look at how well the students performed in relation to the goal. It is a guide for coaches who are interested in ensuring that their work is making the desired impact. Measuring the impact of coaching provides evidence to weigh in to determine what is and isn’t working so we can continually improve our coaching practice. It allows us to know that our collaboration with teachers has made a difference for them and for their students (


  • Are your weekly meetings with your local reading specialist getting more focused? These meetings should get more focused over time. To help with this, develop an agenda to guide these conversations. The weekly meeting with your specialist is the perfect time to reflect on your literacy data, literacy coaching, instructional walkthroughs, professional learning in the science of reading, and analyze the data to determine if students and teachers are making progress.
  • Are your local reading specialists coaching and supporting teachers during the literacy block? How are you and your coach supporting Tier I instruction? Are you both highly visible in the classrooms during Tier I instruction? As leaders, we MUST ensure that the FOCUS is on Tier 1 instruction.
  • How are you measuring the effectiveness of your local reading specialist support? Do you spend time reviewing your local reading specialist schedule? Do you shadow his/her schedules?

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Support your specialists with coaching HEAVY and not LIGHT. Read this great article, Are You Coaching Heavy or Light? friletters (


Parent Notifications

Parents are to be notified of a “consistent reading deficiency” within 15 days of making that determination. The Alabama Literacy Act also requires schools to send parents a monthly notification of progress, literacy strategies, and resources that could be used at home.

Student Reading Improvement Plans (SRIP)

Based on the results of the reading assessment, each K-3 student who exhibits a consistent reading deficiency, or the characteristics of dyslexia, should be provided an appropriate reading intervention program to address his or her specific deficiencies. Any K-3 student who exhibits a consistent reading deficiency at anytime, shall receive an individual reading improvement plan no later than 30 days after the identification of the reading deficiency. The priority should be placed on providing quality instruction/intervention to address students' reading deficiencies.

Identifying Deficiencies:

Sample Parent Letter:

Flow Chart:


The Alabama Education Association is pleased to sponsor the Be A Champion and Read contest. K-6 students are challenged to read six reading-level appropriate books to qualify for the Grand Prize: Iron Bowl tickets – one winner for each team – for the student and two guests. Each prize includes sideline passes and pre-game activities. Students must complete the book list on the reverse side of the parent letter (received from child’s teacher), choose a team to represent – Alabama or Auburn - and can only enter once. Students must return the completed book list to their teacher for a chance at the Grand Prize.

Eleven educators, one from each Inservice Center Region, who decorate bulletin boards, walls, or doors to promote the contest in their school will each be eligible to win $200. Additionally, eleven schools, one from each Inservice Center Region, with at least 75 percent student participation will be entered to win one of eleven $500 school library grants.

Please encourage your schools to participate. The deadline for all contests is October 29, 2021. If you need more information visit AEA Home (, or contact Susie Ellison at 800.392.5839 or email


The ARI LETRS Team has streamlined and updated the LETRS FOLDER to include relevant/timely information for the 21-22 school year. Here is what you need to know:

  • CEU credit is issued by the LEA.
  • Before October 1 – LEAs will receive Summer Attendance Records (May 2021 – August 2021).
  • As each session window closes, LEAs will receive updated attendance records.

2021-2022 LETRS FOLDER

  • LEA Guidance: Issuing CEU Credits
  • LETRS for Administrators
  • LETRS Commitment Overview
  • Much more.....Check out the above link for EVERYTHING LETRS!


ALSDE Bite-Sized PD

The ALSDE have Bite-Sized PD being offered to your virtually. The goal is to provide a 60-minute session broken down into 45-minutes of professional development and 15-minute question and answer time. Invite your faculty and staff to participate. Times vary to accommodate all stakeholders.

Please see Dr. Davis’ curriculum updates for more information and a complete listing of sessions.

  • October 5, 9:00-10:00-Alabama Literacy Act (Dr. Laura Leigh Rambach)
  • October 19, 3:30-4:30- Alabama Literacy Act (Dr. Laura Leigh Rambach)
  • October 26, 3:30-4:30- ELA COS Overview (Tracia Hosea and Dr. Tiffany Davis)
  • October 28, 11:30-12:30- ELA COS Overview (Tracia Hosea and Dr. Tiffany Davis)

Summer Starts in September

Summer Starts in September

PLU Opportunity:

"The average student loses between 17 and 28 percent of school-year gains in English language arts during the summer. 52 percent of students in grades 1 through 6 experience consecutive summer learning loss; which accounts for 39 percent of their total school-year gains each summer" (American Educational Research Journal, July 2020). This is known as the summer slide. This professional study will explore the research behind the urgency to create summer learning opportunities that provide a balance of academics and enrichment and explore various documents outlining procedures for evaluating and planning for successful summer programs. Using the book, Summer Starts in September: A Comprehensive Planning Guide, participants will work in teams in their LEAs to develop a Summer Learning Plan. As a result of this PLU, participants will:
1. Research successful methods for planning and implementing summer programs.
2. Put together a team of educators and community leaders to work together to develop a successful program for students.
3. Recruit and train staff.
4. Identify students with the greatest need for summer learning.
5. Develop a Quality Improvement Plan.
Participants will earn 1.0 PLU. This PLU will be offered for three years.


These informative sessions are for all leaders (District Leaders, Principals, and Assistant Principals). Please consider inviting a team to the Lunch and Learns. Your Regional Literacy Leadership Specialist has shared all session dates/times and meeting links with district leaders and principals. If you need more information about your Lunch and Learns, please contact your leadership specialist.






Alabama Reading Initiative

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