Spring 2021

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

In our Spring Literacy Forum, we convened a parent/educator panel for a rich discussion of lesson learned from a year of remote schooling.  Our panelists looked at what they want to bring forward and want they want to leave behind in virtual learning as we head back to classrooms. Our panelists highlighted the ways that different communication modes between schools and families has helped them support students and in many cases, points the way for closer partnerships moving forward.

Educators shared how their experiences in adapting to distance learning has implications for student engagement, and in particular, attending to their social emotional needs. Existing equity gaps were exacerbated during the pandemic, necessitating a concentrated response as we return to classrooms. In many cases, it is the most under-resourced students that are choosing to remain in remote schooling, increasing the urgency for schools to effectively build out their hybrid and distance learning plans.


See below for links to the presentation agenda,  resources and link to the recorded webinar (coming soon). 

Click below for selected highlights of the Parent & Educator Panel.

  • Resilience:


  • Moving Forward:


  • Communication:


  • Technology:


  • Final Thoughts:




SEL Trainings

General Meeting

Agenda Highlights

Social emotional health is critical for young children as it is critical for us all. We know that for children to reach their academic goals, we need to attend to their social emotional needs first. 

In a two-part workshop series in February, we welcomed back our expert facilitator Aija Simmons to share with our community of literacy service providers, educators and educational leaders, ways to foster social emotional learning (SEL) skills and relationship building in their daily work. The series focused on building capacity, both for our external programs, and within our organizations. 

Aija introduced participants to the MPACT and CASEL pyramid learning frameworks. Participants decided on one key area of focus to practice between the two sessions. In breakout rooms grouped by organizational teams and by area of focus, we reflected on which practices we were able to put in place, and looked at our goals for integrating new SEL practices moving forward.

Did you miss the SEL workshop series and want to review? Please check out the resources below: 



Winter 2021

General Meeting

Agenda Highlights

Goals like reading success for all require transformational change and leadership. Our Winter Literacy Forum was an opportunity for educators, parents, programs, organizations, and other community members to hear and learn from each other.  We highlighted OUSD’s new ELA framework, strategy, and curriculum pilot as a critical pathway and opportunity for change.


In small breakout groups, we asked participants to examine: What have been the barriers to successful reading initiatives? What were obstacles in the way? What are the opportunities for change? Participants also examined their own work and leadership in removing barriers and enabling conditions for community level change.

Missed the forum? Want to review? Check out the relevant documents below:

Fall 2020

General Meeting

Agenda Highlights

Our Fall Quarterly meeting featured an interactive presentation about Social and Emotional Learning. We were thrilled to bring Aija Simmons (Program Manager in the department of Social and Emotional Learning at OUSD) to present to our community.


Aija led our group through the basics of SEL and how OUSD approaches SEL, both in-person and virtually. We then unpacked the three signature SEL practices: welcoming rituals, engaging practices, and optimistic closings. Our meeting made great use of breakout rooms as we connected with each other to discuss using these practices in our own contexts for a valuable peer-learning experience.


As our schools and programs continue to serve students virtually, SEL is critical. We are committed to helping our community access these valuable resources for students, and we look forward to future workshop opportunities with Aija in January. Stay tuned to find out how you can joining us!


See below for links to the presentation guide, the recorded webinar, and the powerpoint slides. 

Summer 2020

General Meeting

Agenda Highlights

This quarter we examined virtual learning in Oakland. This past Spring, as COVID-19 began appearing in communities across the Bay Area and the rest of the country, schools and programs were forced to close their doors and pivot online. Within a few weeks, students and educators were suddenly learning and teaching over Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype. We were thrilled to feature the work of two organizations who shared what they learned and created through distance learning this summer. 


The Oakland REACH is responding to the growing learning disparities affecting Black and Brown children in Oakland and the growing digital divide exacerbated by COVID-19. In June the Oakland REACH launched the City-Wide Virtual Family Hub and Literacy Liberation Center, providing summer learning and tech resources for over 200 students and families.


Springboard Collaborative has partnered with schools in Oakland since 2015, providing after school and summer programming aimed at coaching teachers and families to help kids read on grade level. As a response to COVID-19, Springboard moved their programming online and launched a resource portal for families and teachers. They also released a family literacy app and toolkit, and organized professional learning communities for teachers.


We used our time together to learn and discuss:

  • What has worked for programs transitioning to virtual learning? What hasn’t?
  • How are programs supporting the work of schools and teachers in virtual learning?
  • How are programs supporting students and families through virtual learning?
  • How can we leverage virtual learning to begin closing opportunity gaps and keep all kids connected – online and in person?
  • What lessons and learning can we all take into the Fall?


Participants were able to reflect, share, and learn together in “round-table” discussions with Community Education Partnerships, Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, and East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation.


As we enter the Fall, we continue to support each other and our students in navigating the online learning world. We look forward to more collaboration and innovation throughout Oakland.


See below for links to the presentation guide, the recorded webinar, and the powerpoint slides. 


Spring 2020

General Meeting

Agenda Highlights

Our Spring Quarterly Meeting focused on Understanding Dyslexia. After spending the previous few months learning more about the science of reading and best practices in teaching reading, dyslexia began to stand out as a really important focus area for our community.


Kristen Koeller is the Educator Outreach Co-Manager for Decoding Dyslexia CA, and is a Structured Literacy TSA in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.  She is an IDA Certified Structured Literacy Classroom Teacher.


Deberah Schlagel is a Decoding Dyslexia, CA volunteer and parent advocate.


Together they led the webinar and helped our community better understand Dyslexia while exploring the following questions:

  • What is Dyslexia and how does it affect student learners?
  • Why do so many students fall through the cracks before identification and support?
  • What practices and instructional approaches can support students with dyslexia?
  • What can we learn from parent experience in navigating school systems to support a dyslexic child?
  • What role might we each play in supporting students and how can this knowledge inform our own practice?


See below for links to the presentation guide, the recorded webinar, and the powerpoint slides.


Winter 2020

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

Our Winter Quarterly Meeting focused on literacy work and literacy goals in Oakland.  After a whirlwind year of reading and discussing national coverage about reading instruction, and hearing directly from Oakland educators in the Fall at our previous Quarterly Meeting, we have come to understand some important things that continue to drive our work here at the OLC:

  • The science of reading and how students learn to read has been settled: instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension are all crucial in developing strong readers.
  • We, as a country, and here in Oakland, do not do enough to help students develop phonemic awareness and build phonics skills in early reading instruction. We do not have strong systematic literacy instruction rooted in phonics skills development and it’s holding our students back. Some students still learn to read without systematic instruction, but most will not.
  • We cannot point fingers or play the blame game. We are all in this together, we all want better for our students, and so we are committed to focusing on solutions from here on out, and we understand that it takes all of us.
  • Across the country, schools, school districts, cities, and states are grappling with how best to teach students to read and we are throwing our hat into the ring as well. But what makes Oakland unique is how we are centering this work around the voices and experiences of families and students, teachers, and schools.
  • Therefore, we are committed to alignment across families, schools, and programs serving students.

We all know that two heads are better than one when solving big challenges, and at the OLC we live this daily: “collaborate” is one of our core values. On Wednesday, Jan 15 at our Winter Quarterly Meeting, over 45 individuals representing over 30 organizations throughout Oakland came together to learn, collaborate, and champion critical pathways to transform literacy outcomes in Oakland.


Centering Equity in Our Work: Small Group DialogueMichael De Sousa, the Oakland REACH

In order for our group to begin thinking about literacy outcomes and goals, we needed to make sure that we are hearing from all relevant stakeholders, especially families. Michael led the group through thinking about the different perspectives and solutions centered in our work. He challenged us to change how we lead in order to center more family and student experiences, and to evaluate how the actual structures and processes we use in our work often need to change in order to incorporate the range of experiences and priorities families have for their students. We had opportunities to share ideas and talk through these topics with each other, and share out in a larger group.


Call to Action: Literacy for AllKareem Weaver, NAACP

Following Michael’s workshop, Kareem helped the group think through the need for structural and systemic change within the literacy profession, specifically here in Oakland. He pointed out that most teachers who teach reading or are involved in the literacy profession learned to read easily themselves, and so it’s often hard for us to understand the difficulties a student has and the complexities in the process when learning to read. There’s a huge experience gap – most educators didn’t “need” the structured phonics in order to learn to read, but in fact, over 60% of students require explicit, phonics-based instruction to learn to read. 


Kareem also pointed out that currently most schools in Oakland don’t have the “stuff” (curriculum, resources, teacher professional development) and therefore teachers rarely know the “stuff” (how to teach phonics, how to incorporate structured literacy into the ELA curriculum) and fixing that should be a priority for sure. However, at the same time, he stressed the importance of everyone developing different mindsets – that we need vulnerability to examine our work, keep it focused in the research, and make sure it’s what kids need.


OUSD Literacy Alignment, Wes Jacques, OUSD

As Kareem pointed out, having a perfect curriculum won’t fix everything, but a strong instructional system will go a long way. Wes presented an overview of OUSD’s instructional focus for 2020 and multi-year literacy goals for students. He closed his presentation with an activity for the group, soliciting feedback for the working group moving forward.  Participants answered the following questions: “What resonates?”, “What are you wondering?”, and “What ideas do you have to increase collective impact?” 


The working group will continue to collect feedback at each meeting or event. This feedback will help shape their priorities and projects. You can expect updates from the working 

Thanks to all who joined us. We look forward to continuing this important conversation and work.


Below you will find some resources shared throughout the meeting:


General Resources & Links



Thank you to Noah’s Bagels Lakeshore for the bagel donation, and Whole Foods Oakland for our coffee! 

Thank you to Greenlining 360 Center for the use of their fantastic space!

Fall 2019

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

Our Fall Quarterly meeting centered around literacy development and instruction from birth to early elementary. The question of “what is the best way to teach reading?” has been discussed for ages among schools, educators, and researchers. 20 years ago the National Reading Panel convened and found that effective reading programs combined instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. In most classrooms and reading programs, there’s no debate about the importance of these components. But for many classrooms today, explicit and systematic phonics instruction has often been absent – or, at most, a haphazard add-on to an existing literacy program.


The discussion about the place and importance of phonics in the literacy classroom has recently been the focus of countless debates, articles, podcasts, and even Twitter discussions over the past year. We believe this is due to a few factors:


Panel Discussion with Oakland Educators

featuring Margaret Goldberg, OUSD; Lani Mednick, OUSD; Erin Cox, Aspire Public Schools; Dana Cilono, SEEDS of Learning


In order to better understand how this conversation is playing out here in Oakland, our Fall Quarterly meeting featured a panel of four Oakland educators who shared their experiences with understanding cognitive science reading research and implementing a structured phonics program in their instruction. Some of our main takeaways from their experiences included:

  • While it is important to have a strong curriculum, curriculum is not the magic answer. Teachers and educators need to understand the science of reading first in order to implement explicit phonics instruction.
  • It takes time and support for teachers and educators to understand and process the research, and it takes time and support for them to change their practices.
  • In the same vein, it takes intentionality and time to build a community of educators. Schools and school districts have to be willing to create and sustain systems where teachers stay and feel supported in this work.


Early Literacy Workshop

with Sara Rizik-Baer, Tandem, Partners in Early Learning

We also recognize that literacy development starts well before a student arrives at school in TK or Kindergarten. We had an interactive workshop by Sara Rizik-Baer from Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, focused on building literacy rich environments for students from birth through age 5. Sara highlighted strategies educators can use to develop the American Library Association’s Six Skills of Early Literacy.


In the months to come, we will be diving into this topic in depth. We’ll be exploring the cognitive science behind reading instruction more closely in our upcoming Member Meeting in November. We’ll also take a closer look at literacy instruction, research, and outcomes for students across Oakland. We’d love to hear your questions – what are you curious about? What does this mean for your work or your experience in literacy in Oakland? Drop us a line at team@oaklandliteracycoalition.org and let us know.


You can find the Fall 2019 Quarterly Meeting Notebook here.  You can find a copy of the Meeting Powerpoint here.


Below you will find some resources shared throughout the meeting.


General Resources & Links



Thank you to Janet Heller and the team at Chapter 510 & the Department of Make-Believe for the use of their wonderful space!


Thank you to Noah’s NY Bagels Lakeshore and Whole Foods for their donations of delicious bagels and coffee!

Summer 2019

General Meeting


Agenda Highlights

For our Summer Quarterly meeting we focused primarily on learning more about reforming the Proposition 13 corporate loophole. We heard an engaging presentation from Ben Grieff with Evolve CA, and then broke out into small groups to discuss Prop 13 reform and ways that we can continue to support our schools and communities even before the 2020 vote.

At the end of the meeting we heard from OLC co-director Sanam Jorjani about a potential new project – the Oakland Literacy Center! Stay tuned for updates about this exciting new possibility for Oakland.

You can find the Summer 2019 Quarterly Meeting Notebook here.

Below you will find the resources shared throughout the meeting.

General Resources & Links


Thank you to the Greenlining 360 Center for the use of the Resistance Room!

Thank you to Noah’s NY Bagels Lakeshore and Hasta Muerte Coffee for their donations of delicious bagels and coffee!

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