Monday kicked off Colorado Literacy Week, led by Lt. Governor Joe Garcia each May to encourage continued reading through the summer and to learn about best practices. Throughout the state, Garcia is visiting early childhood through secondary programs, after-school programs, special education programs, home interventions, libraries, and book giveaways, and meeting with educators and superintendents.
Of special note this week was the Lt. Governor’s Monday afternoon visit to a highly successful program at Godsman Elementary School in Denver that promotes not only literacy, but biliteracy in Spanish and English. In partnership with the CU-Boulder’s BUENO Center for Multicultural Education, the school has fully integrated the Literacy Squared® model. As a result, Godsman has achieved impressive reading and writing gains in both Spanish and English that have outpaced the district and the state.
Developed by Professor Kathy Escamilla, Literacy Squared uses research-based strategies to develop biliteracy. As Escamilla explains, "Literacy Squared has four components: research, professional development, assessment, and instruction. Its intent is to develop and empirically test new knowledge and theory about how to nurture the development of biliteracy in Spanish/English emerging bilinguals in U.S. schools."
Lt. Governor Garcia noted the strong reading and writing skills of Godsman students as they practiced Literacy Squared strategies in both bilingual and English-only classrooms. Afterwards, Garcia and Escamilla, Dean Shepard, Professor Lucinda Soltero-González, and Program Director Sandra Butvilofsky, all of the CU-Boulder School of Education, discussed the ways in which the program has helped students to develop a strong command of English while drawing on their first languages and developing full biliteracy.
As Butvilofsky notes, “The teachers at Godsman have worked hard to implement Literacy Squared strategies, and have seen the benefits of doing so. Teachers have asked, ‘Is there anything like Literacy Squared for math? We have seen our kids really learn using Literacy Squared strategies.'"
Godsman first and third graders were thrilled to share their love of reading and writing with their Lt. Governor, who continues to emphasize early literacy as a state priority.
By Kristen Davidson, CU-Boulder School of Education