REIDSVILLE — Two aspects of the innovative reading and writing instruction at the new Moss Street Partnership School will make or break its success: choice and access.

The school’s leadership is covering the former: teachers are allowing elementary students the freedom to choose books they’ll study. No assigned texts to the entire grade level, simply the choice to read books at the appropriate reading level by authors and with characters that reflect who the students are and what they’re interested in.

The second aspect — the access to books from diverse authors with resonating content — needs your help.

Dr Ivey MSPS GivingTuesdayMore modern, diverse books for classroom libraries at the Moss Street Partnership School (MSPS) is something you can provide through #GivingTuesday on November 27, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. You can donate online anytime, though the Tuesday after Thanksgiving will be the day when the world celebrates the beginning of the charitable season. Every penny given to the Moss Street Partnership School Fund will buy books for classroom libraries to be read and loved by students.

It’s difficult for non-educators to fully grasp just how different this approach is for teachers, especially in the public school setting. There’s no scripted curriculum guiding instruction. No books are assigned to all students and students can ditch a book after a chapter or so if it doesn’t interest them. It’s a responsive teaching model that lets kids connect to a book first and then guides them with reading and writing instruction in the moment. And it’s an approach backed by some of the brightest minds in education.

“Engaged reading has a strong relationship with getting better at reading,” said Dr. Gay Ivey, the William E. Moran Distinguished Professor in Literacy at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). “Having the right books and having the quality time at school to read is essential in making this happen.”

Allison Ormond MSPS GivingTuesdayDr. Ivey said it’s common for children in economically challenged communities to not have access to representative books at school or available in the classroom. Relevant books from diverse authors are a must because kids are fully engaged in books they love, not books from which they’re instructed to learn. “The students (at MSPS) won’t be reading because they have to or because they’re assigned to, but they will be engaged and we’re training them to read for their own purposes… We want kids in the driver’s seat with their reading.”

Once the kids are there, teachers are ready to guide them in learning about character traits, narrative devices and response writing, said Allison Ormond, MSPS Associate Director for Curriculum and a former North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

“By putting in students’ hands books that are on their level and books that reflect them and their circumstances, you get them hooked in the reading,” Ormond said. “Then you can start teaching them all these things you want through the reading.” She said it’s a responsive teaching model that even leads to students teaching each other as they have genuine discussions about the books they’re reading.

“It’s all about connecting with the text,” Ormond said — which you can help make happen with a #GivingTuesday donation.

Be sure to check the Moss Street Partnership School’s Facebook and Twitter for more profiles of the innovation at the school.

How to make a gift to the Moss Street Partnership School Fund this #GivingTuesday:
1. Visit alumni.uncg.edu/givingtuesday
2. Click “Give the Gift of Education”
3. Select “Choose a different designation”
4. Choose “Moss Street Partnership School” under the Featured section