BLAST – Early Literacy Intervention at West Meadow Elementary

This morning, I had the opportunity to present with Lynda McGrattan on the topic of BLAST, a literacy intervention program that was developed at our school (West Meadow Elementary School in Claresholm, AB).  During the course of our AISI work related to the development of this intervention framework, we definitely learned, adjusted and evolved as we worked collaboratively to provide supports for all students.

Rather than provide an overview of the session, I hope to share some key learnings from our cycle 4 work.  We encourage you to email Lynda McGrattan at for the powerpoint or any other resources from our session.

Some key learnings:

  • Developing teacher-created assessments is powerful PD – we collectively developed an Early Reading Assessment used to screen our students, focused on phonemic awareness and phonetic principles.  Building this assessment together helped to forge a common literacy vocabulary in our school and ensured our intervention discussions were data-informed (which is different than being data-driven).
  • Ready, Fire, Aim – we readied ourselves through the development of our reading assessment and some resources but then just got started, knowing that we would make tweaks and adjustments as we went.  We used a pilot mindset where we would start with just one class or grade level, learn from the pilot and then look at more school-wide implementation.  Learn more about Ready, Fire, Aim.
  • Align resources with your focus or goal – our goal was that every child will become a reader by the end of grade three.  In doing so, we adjusted our timetable to allow more strategic literacy instruction for grade 1-2 students, shifted staff to our grade 1 and 2 intervention block (ensuring the maximum amount of involved adults to allow smaller instructional groups), ensured financial resources matched our direction, etc.
  • Push-in versus pull-out – early in developing our collaborative response model, we relied heavily on pull-out interventions to support struggling readers.  In time, we evolved to focusing on more push-in intervention (as defined by DuFour), which was the genesis of our BLAST program.  Building intervention blocks and then maximizing the number of staff involved became how we support learners in our inclusive model.

Thank you to all our participants today and encourage you to contact Lynda or myself ( with any further questions!


About kurtishewson

I currently work with Jigsaw Learning, committed to supporting schools in creating collaborative structures for learning. Previously a principal, vice-principal and teacher in Alberta schools, as well as teaching at the post-secondary level.
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One Response to BLAST – Early Literacy Intervention at West Meadow Elementary

  1. Pingback: BLAST – Early Literacy Intervention at West Meadow Elementary « Jigsaw Learning

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