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Oklahoma Taking the Lead on Literacy
January 8, 2003

"Fall seven times, stand up eight."
–Japanese proverb

In October 2001 Oklahoma began the "Early Steps to Literacy Project" aimed at preparing early childhood educators to facilitate low-income children's language and literacy competencies.  The project employs a comprehensive research-based approach, consisting of three components.  Component I, Professional Development of Early Childhood Educators, provides college-level instruction on emergent literacy for early childhood teachers and directors and professional preparation for directors on supporting teachers' new literacy practices.  Component II, Support Network and Peer Coaching, creates a support network to facilitate and sustain teachers as they work to change and improve their literacy practices.  Component III, Training and Support for an Early Literacy Infrastructure, creates bridges between the child care, Head Start, and public school communities, and supports and extends the existing early childhood infrastructure.
The project provides 60 clock hours of college level training for early childhood teachers on emergent literacy and 60 hours of training for directors on literacy and leadership.  Center participants must enroll in pairs -- a director and a teacher.  The project has established a support network of literacy mentors, peer coaches, and a technological network that includes a listserv, web site, and interactive satellite broadcast
"This is a very exciting initiative for our state," reports Project Director Ruth Ann Ball.  "People are excited about the classes, the literacy mentors enjoy going out a working with their cohort participants.  I am seeing that we are really making a difference in terms of how we are providing resources and support for our staff that teach our 3- and 4-year olds."
For more information on this project, contact the Center for Early Childhood Professional Development at the University of Oklahoma (405-799-6383; mlenington@ou.edu).

"Building Literacy" was the theme of a recent Beginnings Workshop in Child Care Information Exchange.  To check out this resource as well as other Beginnings Workshop training tools, go to www.ChildCareExchange.com.


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