3Rs with Classroom Teachers


What is the 3Rs Classroom Strand doing to help Allegheny County children thrive?

All K – 3 teachers in participating schools will receive professional development (PD) focusing on racially responsive literacy instruction and copies of racially and culturally responsive picture books for their classrooms. In addition to the PD and classroom library books, teachers will be invited to volunteer for a facilitated professional learning community (PLC) to develop skills related to racially responsive literacy instruction, as well as copies of an additional RCR picture books.

We are particularly interested in learning about whether the 3Rs in the Classroom program changes teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, or practice. We also hope to learn more about how teacher engage with ongoing 3Rs in the Classroom learning opportunities.

Why the 3Rs?

The 3Rs in the Classroom program aims to integrate the 3Rs (Reading, Racial Equity, Relationships) into classroom literacy practices. We do this by working with teachers to shift perspectives to improve their ability to address high quality reading, racial equity, and relationship-aligned goals. By integrating a strong focus on racial equity, we aim to partner with schools to rethink how we frame and support literacy development in ways that center Black student literacy.

We take an integrated approach to the 3Rs because we believe these three Rs represent a critical nexus whereby teachers can influence and interrupt large systemic issues in the classroom. We believe that developing an understanding of literacy that integrates personal, practice-based, and systemic perspectives on racial equity will position teachers to disrupt unjust systems through their practice.

Why focus on Reading?

  • Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is a crucial benchmark in a child’s educational development.
  • Up until the end of third grade, most children are learning to read. Beginning in fourth grade, they are reading to learn.

3Rs in the Classroom Key Reading Considerations: 

  • Focus on both comprehension and phonics instruction
  • Understand the science behind reading
  • Promote reading opportunities at home, at school, and in the community

Why focus on Racial Equity?

  • Educational outcomes and opportunities are NOT equitable, and we need to center this understanding in our design, implementation, and evaluation of literacy instruction
  • In 2019, only 20 percent of black 4th-graders in Pennsylvania scored proficient or above in reading on national tests – the figure for white 4th-graders was 62 percent.

3Rs in the Classroom Key Reading Considerations: 

  • Focus on both comprehension and phonics instruction
  • Understand the science behind reading
  • Promote reading opportunities at home, at school, and in the community

Why focus on Relationships?

  • Literacy develops through authentic and safe relationships in the Home, School, and Community contexts.

3Rs in the Classroom Key Reading Considerations 

  • Read often in the context of authentic and safe relationships
  • Develop a positive school and classroom climate that is safe for taking risks and making mistakes
  • Use a strengths-based approach to promote literacy with children, their families, and communities

It is important to note that 3Rs in the Classroom is not a specific curriculum, but rather a program that aims to support teachers in developing insights on their practice that is rooted in this 3Rs integrated approach. We focus our work on the 3Rs Principles, and on supporting teachers in examining the ways in which reading, racial equity, and relationships cut across teacher classroom practices.


Foundational 3Rs strategies

Using picture books as counternarratives

  • Picture books are an important tool that teachers can use to support their own learning, and to promote conversations with children
  • Picture books can be used as mirrors, windows, and prisms and help children learn about themselves and the world around them. We use picture books that center the experiences of Black children (i.e., Racially and Culturally Responsive, or RCR, books)
  • RCR books help us to decenter whiteness in and across literacy experiences

Using collaborative learning

  • Professional Developments (PDs) and Professional Learning Collaboratives (PLCs) that center and support teacher knowledge and foster long-term commitments to 3Rs work
  • Making space and time to support peer-to-peer learning

3Rs with Classroom Books

3Rs in the Classroom 2020-2021 PD and PLC Picture Books

Research Questions

The current project proposes to partner with select schools and classroom teachers to conduct a design experiment whereby we systematically develop and formatively refine the 3Rs in the Classroom Intervention.

Objective: The purpose of this evaluation is to answer the following research questions:

  • Does participating in the 3Rs in the Classroom program change teachers' knowledge, beliefs, or practice?
    • Do teachers who receive the enhanced program (PD+PLC) engage in higher quality 3Rs read alouds?
    • How do teachers who receive PD only compare to teachers who receive the enhanced program (PD+PLC)?
  • How do teachers engage with ongoing 3Rs learning opportunities?
    • What challenges arise? What works well? What components lead to teachers’ perceived changes in their practice?
    • What do teachers' raise as concerns across the 3Rs, as it relates to their practice?