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Honors-Level Literacy: Unlocking Student Potential in Every Classroom

Updated 2-1-23

Over the past two years, St. Louis Park Public School literacy specialists have been building the capacity of teachers in two areas: the science of reading and culturally relevant literacy. Professional development in these areas has led to a monumental shift in literacy instruction: all teachers across all disciplines are to be strong teachers of reading and writing. 

Under the new approach, all students get research-based, rigorous reading and writing instruction focused on enrichment and inquiry, regardless of the classroom they are assigned. In past practice, only a handful of students received targeted literacy instruction, and practices included some that were remedial, contributing to unsatisfactory outcomes for students. Although pull-out remediation may seem like an easier way to get the results we want, literacy outcomes are complex. A student’s literacy identity is connected to expectations that we have for them as a reader and writer, as well as their success in literacy and the ways they see themselves in the curriculum.

We invite you to learn more about the approach to literacy in St. Louis Park Public Schools. View our new webpage for information about:

  • The Science of Reading and Culturally Relevant Literacy
  • The 5 Pursuits
  • Elementary Literacy and Enrichment
  • Secondary Literacy and the Redesign of the Middle School Experience
  • Early Indicators of Progress
  • FAQs (submit a question)

One of St. Louis Park Public Schools' literacy principles is making sure all students have access to high interest books that they are able to read. Special attention is given to culturally relevant practices and those that maximize gifts and talents of all of our students. The approach provides more student choice of materials and how students show their knowledge, a staple of enrichment programming.

So, what are some of our students’ all time favorite books?

Maeve, 2nd grader at Park Spanish Immersion, says her favorite book of all time is Goddess Girls by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams. It’s a series about Greek mythology and gods.  What does Maeve like most about reading and writing? “I kinda like that you get to make up your own stories and kinda the stories bring you into your own world," she said. "Some books are really difficult and you don't get 'em all right, but sometimes it can kind of help you read better.”

Krychell Smith is an 8th grader at St. Louis Park Middle School. “When I was really small I felt like reading was a burden and that reading was taking time away from fun things, like playing with my friends. Now, reading and writing are more of a learning process for me and are interesting compared to what it was before.  Reading is really fun for me and helps me learn different things about the world,” she said. Krychell’s all time favorite book is an LGBT realistic fiction book, They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera. 

Krychell’s middle school Language and Literature experience helped her realize her love for writing, which is why she enrolled in Creative Writing this year. “I feel like when you're reading or writing you can find yourself in the situation and really feel something that's can change your mind, like if you are not in happy place, you can find yourself in such a happy situation that makes you genuinely happy.”

Susannah Israel is in 9th grade at St. Louis Park High School whose reading and writing experience at the high school has helped change her perspective on the world. “There are so many books I have read that have made me think differently, cultures I didn't know about, background knowledge I didn't have and it made me expand my thinking. I've become more open minded,” she shared. Susannah’s favorite book of all time is A series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler under the pen name Lemony Snicket. “I'm actually considering writing my final essay about how this series shaped my life,” she shared.

“I've been challenged to write in different ways and sometimes different writing methods,” Susannah expressed about their experience. “I have a set way that I like to write, but sometimes I'm told I need to write more poems or include more similes, metaphors, or personification. Even though I'm not used to writing that way, I'm being asked to broaden my horizons. Sometimes we write in a group and that can be challenging because I like my writing to be my own, so initially I am reluctant to consider other ideas, but upon further analysis I really appreciate different writing structures.”

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