DARIEN — The new school year brought new changes to the district’s literacy program.

Cory Gillette, program director of elementary literacy and social studies, updated the Board of Education with some of the changes at its Nov. 13 meeting.

“In fourth grade this year we are implementing a word study resource that’s called Megawords,” Gillette said.

This resource emphasizes spelling, reading and understanding multisyllabic words, she said. There is also a group of teachers studying to see what resource would be best for fifth-graders in the future.

“We’re studying the best practices around what is taught,” Gillette said.

Teachers across grade levels are also encouraged to work together. This could provide a smoother transition through schools for students. Gillette said teachers have become more aligned across schools.

“We have a very supportive and open relationship,” she said. “We have a lot of common work and common ideas.”

Francis Janosco, English Department chairperson for grades six through 12, said one English initiative being studied this year is an analysis of the honors placement system.

“Our goal will be to ensure that each piece of the system is aligned to our department’s vision statement,” he said.

A committee has been formed of Darien English teachers to assess and streamline the requirements for honors placement, testing structure and the appeals procedure for honors placement.

A new initiative is also being started to have a capstone project in Elementary schools.

“There are periodic special schedules devoted to a capstone project that is completley interdisciplinary,” Janosco said. “Students periodically do work that contributes to every grade level at that school.”

At the sixth-grade level the capstone focus is on building community in the Darien community, he said. Seventh grade focuses on the Connecticut community and eighth grade focuses on the world community.

“That is a chance for students to reflect on their work,” Janosco said. “Interestingly I do find that in the future we may be able to align what we’re doing at the high school with that. I think it’s going to be a natural fit.”

With the new literacy program, students in elementary are writing every day. In the middle school there is an emphasis on writing long form and building stamina, he said. High school also has free-form writing to continue to develop student’s abilities.

“I think when we think about writing at the high school we often associate it as the land of these final products,” Janosco said on continuing to structure the literacy program.

Updates on the K-12 Comprehensive Literacy Program will be given to the board throughout the school year.

In other business, board chairperson Tara Ochman was re-elected in a special meeting before the board’s regular meeting. Vice Chairperson David Dineen and Secretary Kathrine Stein were also re-elected for their respective positions.


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