In an earlier post, we introduced you to Marisa Russo, the star of our webisode series Monday Mornings with Marisa. Given the series’ success we decided to chat again. We asked Marisa to look back on her experiences as an educator and share her thoughts on the importance of early literacy education.
After landing her first teaching position in 1995, Marisa was tasked with ensuring that her first class of students was literate by the end of the year. As a new and not-fully credentialed teacher, Marisa was nervous, but was determined to, “teach with fidelity.” Despite being a new teacher, she felt more confident knowing she had a research-built literacy program to teach from: Open Court Reading.
Today, her thoughts on literacy remain the same.
“Knowledge of the letters of the alphabet, phonological awareness and phonics instruction are the foremost effective elements in early literacy education,” Marisa says, explaining how these three literacy concepts are key to student success.
“A clear instructional path that allows teachers to communicate key concepts, and reinforce key skills throughout each grade level, is necessary to ensure reading success,” she explains. “Careful, explicit and systematic instruction builds on previous lessons in a spiraling sequence. Reviewing and reinforcing known skills as new skills are introduced helps all students succeed, including the most fragile learners.”
Given the constantly evolving nature of education, Marisa understands that the demands on teachers are higher than they’ve ever been before. Still, she remains confident in the research.
“Components in Open Court Reading allow students to learn, practice and apply their skills with manipulatives, print products and digital assets. Digital games and activities provide more engagement for the learner, offer personalized learning opportunities, teach 21st century skills and provide an environment for authentic and relevant assessment.”
But students aren’t the only ones who achieve success. “The goal is to provide quality professional development to ensure teacher success with the program, and deliver continued student literacy success,” she says. From customized professional development plans that are school-specific, to quick “Show Me How” videos featuring point-of-use tutorials, Open Court Reading is designed to educate teachers as much as students.
It’s easy to see why Marisa is so passionate about early literacy education. Be sure to check out Marisa in action on our YouTube channel as we premiere new webisodes of Monday Mornings with Marisa.