The education division president of the venerable publisher outlines a path forward.
GUEST COLUMN | by Greg Worrell
The beginning of a new school year is a time to start fresh – for teachers, students and families to reboot and dive into the new journeys and adventures that each year brings. It’s a time when professionals in our schools often look to re-engage with the core of what school and teaching is all about: relationships, instruction, a love of learning; stories, knowledge and understanding. Back-to-school engenders a similar feeling for us at Scholastic. And after a busy spring and summer, we’re starting the 2015-16 school year by re-focusing on the core of what we do as well: striving to become an even better and more adaptable partner to teachers and school leaders; continuing to improve our content, programs and services so they deliver precisely what educators today seek; and helping teachers “Open a World of Possible” by creating inspirational learning experiences for students.
Every child, every teacher and every school has unique needs, and we’re committed to providing solutions – in print and digital formats—that are right for them.
We recently announced a new service that will provide “Comprehensive Literacy Solutions” to schools and districts. We recognize that every school and every district has distinct needs and challenges, and this realignment of our education business means that we can even more readily customize solutions to meet those specific needs.
When it comes to technology, our number one focus is on being responsive to the needs of educators. In creating programs such as BookFlix®, TrueFlix®, Storia® school edition, and the digital companions to our classroom magazines, our education technology is designed to ensure that teachers can be successful from day one. Programs like these are easy to implement, require very little training and can fit into a school’s or teacher’s existing curriculum.
Rather than focus one portion of our business on educational technology, tech is integrated throughout our learning ecosystem to add value wherever it makes sense – just as it is in our everyday lives.
What does the ecosystem of our Comprehensive Literacy Solutions look like?
Our Comprehensive Literacy Solutions center on four focus areas.
- Instructional Reading & Writing
Our long-held focus on Instructional Reading & Writing combines the best research with the expertise of the top minds in instruction to create a range of resources, materials and curricula that educators can use to tailor instruction to their students’ needs.
This year, new curriculum mapping and digital pacing tools are helping us more easily customize solutions that meet the unique needs of each district, school and classroom. Technology is even helping us create classroom libraries customized to the student population in each room.
Our Guided and Leveled Reading programs are used in schools across the country, and this year we’re expanding the student populations served by these programs by launching Guided Reading: Lecturas Cortas for English Language Learners.
- Professional Learning
Our professional learning group, called Scholastic Professional, provides multimedia books infused with video and other digital components, curricular resources, literature collections, and consulting services developed to help transform instruction in any school or district. For decades, Scholastic has sought out the leading experts in instruction to guide our product development and author books for educators. This year, we’re expanding our work with literacy advocates and researchers, including Ruth Culham, Nell K. Duke, Stephanie Harvey, Phyllis C. Hunter, Jan Richardson, Laura Robb, Maria Walther, and our team of expert consultants is delivering an expanded array of professional development services and training for teachers, principals and district leaders.
Two new additions to Scholastic’s list of digitally-infused professional books are planned throughout the year, including two exciting titles releasing in November: Every Child a Super Reader by literacy expert Pam Allyn and renowned educator Ernest Morrell; and Page-to-Stage Writing Workshop by Newbery medal-winning author and educator Kwame Alexander.
- Learning Supports and Family & Community Engagement (FACE)
In 2011, we launched Scholastic FACE, a group devoted to creating programs and resources that reinforce the important role families and communities play in ensuring children succeed in school and beyond. We are now expanding this service to include district- and state-wide programs of Learning Supports, a consultative approach that helps school leaders identify and reduce barriers to learning so that all students can achieve.
We are also deepening our partnership with renowned community engagement expert Dr. Karen Mapp of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. In July, we began offering a three-day workshop series to provide professional development to district leaders, school staff, and parents and community members in the area of family engagement.
We’re also looking into ways that social media can help parents and educators connect in productive and collaborative ways.
- Independent Reading:
You’re probably familiar with the most widely-known parts of Scholastic – our support for home- and school-based independent reading through Reading Clubs, Book Fairs and Classroom Magazines, which we provide at the building level to most schools in America. At Scholastic, we continue to be committed to increasing the availability of high-quality, affordable books and ebooks that encourage and motivate independent reading both in school and at home. Through these channels, as well as through our long-established Leveled Book Rooms and Classroom Book collections, we are offering even more options to meet kids where they are and support them as they move to higher reading levels..
The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM found that while 33% of children ages 6–17 say their class has a designated time during the school day to read a book of their choice independently, only 17% do this every or almost every school day.
With the support of numerous studies that definitively conclude that the more kids read the more they achieve, our goal is to increase time spent on independent reading both in school and at home.
Our four-pronged approach means that we can support the whole child – whether it’s with instruction in the classroom, independent reading at home, professional development for educators, support from families and communities, or reducing barriers to learning. Every child, every teacher and every school has unique needs, and we’re committed to providing solutions – in print and digital formats—that are right for them.
Greg Worrell is President of Scholastic Education, which partners with schools and districts to raise student achievement for all students by providing comprehensive, customized solutions that include professional learning resources and print and digital instructional materials that ensure children have access to robust classroom libraries, powerful instruction, and books in the home. Follow @ScholasticHelp