Regional staff members of the Alabama Reading Initiative go over their notes with each other during a break at a professional training session held at the Alabama Power building in Clanton last week.
Regional staff members of the Alabama Reading Initiative go over their notes with each other during a break at a professional training session held at the Alabama Power building in Clanton last Friday.

Archived Story

Alabama Reading Initiative holds training session in Clanton

Published 2:47pm Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Alabama Reading Initiative held a two-day professional training session in Chilton County last week for regional staff members.

Managed by the Alabama Department of Education, the ARI is a K–12 initiative designed to improve reading instruction and ultimately achieve 100-percent literacy among public school students.

About 65 reading coaches comprising the regional staff of ARI met at Jefferson State Community College’s Chilton-Clanton Campus on Dec. 12 and Alabama Power Company in Clanton on Dec. 13.

“These coaches are spread out in each of the 11 in-service regions across the state,” ARI Coordinator Judy Stone said. “We bring them all together for two days about four times a year to get a statewide perspective of what’s going on in all those regions.”

Stone said coaches work with each Local Education Agency (LEA) in the state, meet with Central Office employees or school leaders and provide learning and professional support to separate school districts.

They plan with teachers, work with students in the classroom, meet with parents, work with data and find new instructional strategies to meet the needs of their students.

Chilton County Schools is one of 135 LEAs in Alabama.

“We try to figure out what each district, or sometimes each teacher, needs and provide ongoing support,” Stone said. “That’s a big part—that one-on-one support.”

On Dec. 12, the group reviewed the Conceptual Framework Module, Assessment Module and Vocabulary Module.

Literacy Standards and Coaching modules constituted the group’s training Dec. 13.

Stone said the primary purpose of the sessions is to introduce coaches to revisions made in the modules and get their feedback on them.

“We’re always trying to stay current on research in literacy,” Stone said.

The ARI was founded in 1998 and started with 16 schools, Stone said. In 2006, the initiative completed training for every K–3 school in the state.

The initiative currently provides differentiated levels of support to more than 1,000 schools.

According to Stone, coaches help teachers of lower grades develop their students’ literacy skills, and they assist teachers of upper grades in implementing literacy skills in various subjects, such as history.

Stone said ARI holds training sessions for reading coaches four times a year at different places across the state.

“We try to find a central location, and that’s why Chilton County is ideal for us,” Stone said. “The ones here today do a lot of traveling work, primarily in Alabama.”

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