Buffalo Grove focuses on building literacy skills using literacy coaches and lab

Buffalo Grove High School this school year redesigned a computer laboratory into a collaborative, flexible space that allows staff to enhance reading, writing and critical thinking skills among students.

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The room, called the BGenius Lab, is one way Buffalo Grove is focusing on literacy, a skill needed in high school and beyond. 

Literacy coaches Kate Glass and Jeff Vlk help teachers design literacy lessons and often coteach alongside the curriculum experts or teach the lessons in the lab. The two have connected with every teacher in the building and have seen classes from criminal law to biology to Spanish and world history, among others, stop in to help students in prep, regular, honors and Advanced Placement courses.  

“Our reading strategies give students the tools to be independent learners,” Glass said.  

The space also functions as a teaching demonstration lab where teachers can observe or model best practices. 

A lesson, for example, provides and reinforces pre-reading and reading strategies in specific subjects to help students better understand language used in articles. Lessons also focus on teaching students to write in a complex manner in a specific subject.

Along with building students’ literacy skills, the lab has created a stronger culture of collaboration among staff. Not only are students learning content-specific literacy strategies but teachers are also learning new concepts, too, creating ongoing professional development. And often, staff walking by the room, located in the center of the building, stop in to watch a literacy lesson in action. 

The layout and furniture inside the classroom also help forge collaboration. Furniture can be rearranged for instruction and group work and TV screens in the room allow teachers and students to show work being edited.