New Methods for Teaching Literacy

by : Stacy Andell

Sachem School District teachers completed another professional development activity thanks to the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. The program is called the Strategic Instructional Model (SIM) and looks at how teachers can improve literacy in low performing adolescents

The Strategic Instructional Model

Developed over 25 years of research, SIM works to help teachers recognize what lessons are of greatest importance and target those lessons towards a diverse group of learners. SIM rests on four philosophical principles:

• Low proficiency students can be taught in mainstream classrooms.
• Teacher’s aides, or support teachers, should concentrate on helping students develop learning strategies.
• Subject teachers should organize their lessons so that the material can be understood and remembered by low proficiency students.
• The students should be actively involved in deciding how to learn new strategies.

SIM works on two levels, one addressing the needs of the teacher and the other addressing the needs of the student. For teachers, SIM training provides a method for organizing information in ways that are most useful for students, so that they can understand what they learn and then be able to use it to accomplish tasks. For students, academic coaching develops learning strategies that can be applied to what they learn in school. These strategies range from learning ways to approach written texts, including informational readings and math word problems, as well as ways to express information in writing, as is often required on standardized tests.

Another important element of SIM is the way that it promotes teamwork among teachers, students, and parents. In deciding what content to teach to students, teachers and students work together to determine what information students need and what the best method of delivering that information is. This creates a feeling of comradery in the learning community and helps all stakeholders contribute to the overall success of students.

What Long Island Teachers are Saying About SIM

Many classroom teachers have welcomed SIM as a concrete approach to meeting the needs of their students. After observing a demonstration writing lesson conducted using the method, teacher Jill Kristoff comments, “The SIM sentence writing strategy is a very useful tool for children, teaching them grammar and sentence structure, as well as improving their writing