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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Ellin Oliver Keene's Literacy Studio Applied

Our school system is looking closely at Ellin Oliver Keene's Literacy Studio design and wondering about the components we'll employ to strengthen our reading/writing workshop approach for optimal literacy development.  Yesterday I was prompted to analyze a short list of Keene's construct.

As I analyze Keene's work, I will integrate my research related to brain-friendly, student-centered, 21st century learning design.  I don't believe that we can think of any curriculum today without integrating the latest research about cognition, and the skills, knowledge and concepts students will need in order to become life-long learners in our fast pace, multi-tool, knowledge-saturated society.

Keene calls for a 90-minute literacy block in elementary schools.  I think that's a great idea as it provides fluidity and gives teachers and students room to respond, create (compose/craft) and reflect.  She presents a number of strategies that "minimize the space between teacher and student" thus creating more time for active learning i.e. "more of them, less of us." Keene also presents ideas for studio design and educator efforts as coach, mentor, guide, and co-learner. Like all leading literacy educators, Keene affirms and proposes rich, deep learning techniques that have been replicated throughout time by life-long learners and intellects who value knowledge, process and concept.

How will Keene's work affect what we currently call reading/writing workshop?  

Her work will serve to strengthen current practices, establish greater uninterrupted time in the schedule for literacy development and add detail and finesse to our work based on the latest research.

What is the mood of the Literacy Studio?
The literacy studio is a vibrant community of readers and writers who exhibit a sense of urgency related to applying and sharing student-centered learning which exemplifies a culture of rigor, inquiry, intimacy and in-depth study. Risk taking, experimentation, inquiry and exploration are encouraged as children who feel trusted and honored read, write, research, reflect and share. It's an apt time of day for students to engage in passion-based learning as they grow skill, concept and knowledge.

Who is the Literacy Studio teacher?
The Literacy Studio teacher is the lead learner who knows his/her students with depth, and understands both the art and science of reading/writing instruction.  She/he targets instruction with skill using think alouds, modeling, comprehension strategies, apt tools (including technology) and just right literature to develop students' reading/writing skill, interest, analysis and independence.  The lessons are short and engaging, and the focus is responsive to students' needs and real world application and connection.

Who is the Literacy Studio student?
The student is an engaged reader and writer who has extended time to immerse himself/herself in a wide variety of genres and text while applying the strategies and focus modeled and discussed during focus (crafting) lessons. Students have choice and voice in selecting texts and writing/research topics/genre. They work alone, with partners or in small groups, and discuss and share their work readily with peers and teachers.

What is the role of ritual in the Literacy Studio?
The literacy studio exemplifies a climate of respect and civility.  Rituals, a predictable schedule and well-defined procedures foster collaboration, independence and camaraderie.

What does the Literacy Studio look like?
The literacy studio pays attention to design.  It is a warm, inviting environment with soft lighting, multiple work areas, rugs, book shelves, comfortable seating, spaces and furniture for group work, and readily available materials such as books, paper, computers, iPods, iPads, pens, pencils, notebooks and more. 

Keene's Literacy Studio moves reading/writing workshop into the 21st century by making the learner's experience center stage in a responsive, engaging, multi-modal learning environment.  I look forward to greater research and reflection related to this construct, and welcome your thoughts and ideas.