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BISD Teachers Celebrate New ELAR Resources With Unboxing Party


A group of Southwest Elementary School teachers reunited this summer break for a different kind of reveal celebration.

“Today is our unboxing party,” said Southwest Elementary School Assistant Principal Tammie Baggerly about a day filled with setting up classrooms and eating pizza.

Dozens of boxes containing the new district-approved K-8 English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) instructional materials were stacked in the cafeteria, waiting for eager teachers.

“They’re unpacking everything and becoming familiar with it,” said Baggerly about the classroom literacy system developed by Fountas & Pinnell (F&P).

Belton ISD selected the F&P system after the State Board of Education (SBOE) issued a proclamation calling for the adoption of new ELAR instructional materials for the 2019–2020 school year. The F&P resources are anchored by an interactive reading lab.

“It’s the hub of the system, which is an absolutely amazing reading system,” said Southwest Elementary Instructional Coach Paula Vasek. “Teachers will get their mini reading lessons, which are new products for each interactive read aloud. They’ll also have shared reading to do in classes, and the phonics, word study and spelling component too. And also guided reading for their smaller groups, which is phenomenal.”

In preparation for the implementation of new instructional materials, Belton ISD convened a committee to review resources and make recommendations for materials to be adopted. The committee, consisting of elementary and middle school teachers, as well as administrators, met over a period of months and concluded its work in January.

Belton ISD’s Curriculum & Instruction Department provided the committee with state-adopted instructional materials given by publishers and other additional resources aligned with the district’s ELAR philosophy, which focuses on Language and Word Study, Reading Workshop, and Writing Workshop. Using a grade-level perspective, teachers reviewed and discussed the materials before voting.

“Reading is fundamental to all learning,” said Director of Language Arts and Reading Lauren Brisbin. “Classroom literacy resources are critical, and the committee worked diligently to make sure the selected materials aligned with the district’s values and beliefs about literacy instruction.”

“It’s really good research-based reading instruction,” said Baggerly. “And I think it’s going to be phenomenal and a really great resource for teachers”

Megan Villarreal, a second-grade teacher at Southwest, echoed Baggerly’s sentiment about the reading system. “We’re really excited that everything is nice and laid out for us. We already have the reading materials, all the books we need. Of course, we can always make it our own, but it’s nice and exciting that we have it,” she said.

Villarreal suggested a major benefit of the reading system is it provides opportunities for teachers to individualize lessons. 

“Just from using some of the sample materials last year, we really saw how you can differentiate the lessons,” she said. “You can make it a little bit harder for the kids who are ready to advance. You get to meet kids where they’re at and provide lessons to serve the academic needs on different levels, based on student need.”

Joshua Wucher
July 31, 2019