Karen Harris is a “teacher of teachers.” Her role as a literacy instructional facilitator has helped her see the true benefits of the LDC framework; because of this, she has proven to be crucial to the implementation of LDC in Fouke School District in Fouke, Arkansas.
In the district, Harris develops model lesson plans and teaching strategies. Fouke is still relatively new to LDC; Harris’s work with LDC began in 2012 after she attended a training hosted by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) with her principal and several teachers.
When school returned in the fall, teachers in Fouke began to implement the LDC framework in their classrooms. While their LDC training provided a foundation, some of the teachers struggled with developing the instructional strategies for the mini-tasks. Harris’s position as a literacy coach provided her with the opportunity to meet with them individually on a regular basis to help them develop their tasks. Her work with LDC also led her to work with teachers outside of English language arts, as social studies and science teachers began to come to her for literacy instruction to help them implement the Common Core State Standards. “Karen went above and beyond as a literacy coach,” says Carol Ann Duke, lead SREB literacy consultant in Arkansas. “She made LDC implementation a ‘we’ experience. Everything her teachers were asked to do, she was right by their side to support them.”
When local administrators worried that simultaneously implementing project-based learning (PBL) and LDC might prove too much for the faculty and students, Karen immediately stepped in to argue for LDC’s value. A group of individuals, including the principal, Harris, and SREB literacy instructor Linda Mabe, discussed the school’s next steps. Harris explained to the group how LDC and PBL could work together to increase student achievement. “We threw around many ideas,” says Harris. “Finally, we all came to the conclusion that LDC fits with PBL. There is a place in our school for the two.”
Since then, Harris has found that LDC not only meshes well with PBL, but also provides an essential framework for a PBL unit. She has worked with Mabe to continue to link PBL and LDC in her school. She has seen an impact on the teachers using LDC this school year. “Our teachers have spent more time formulating and looking at those essential questions to ask students and engage them in thinking more deeply about topics,” says Harris. She is also seeing new collaboration among the teachers, and is working with teachers across subjects who share students to coordinate their units.