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Family Literacy EventsI have coordinated the "One School, One Book" project at my...

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hillaryrb | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 25, 2012 at 3:45 AM via web

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Family Literacy Events

I have coordinated the "One School, One Book" project at my school for three years (new to OSOB? Check it out by googling it or the "Read to Them" organization) to promote family literacy activities. It is a very successful early spring event, and I am looking for more ideas for school-wide events that can allow educators the opportunity to not only encourage family members' reading aloud to children but also provide suggestions as to how. What does your school do to increase family literacy or reading at home?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 25, 2012 at 2:16 PM (Answer #2)

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I am not familiar with OSOB, but my children's district has many different family nights. They have a family reading night, movie night, and something else (I am forgetting right now). You could combine a movie night with reading at home and have books made into movies read at home. Families who have read the book can come for a movie night at the school.

Our elementary school has Book in a Bag. This is where the book goes home with the student and they are supposed to read it to their parents. As a teacher, as you are, I know that not all parents read with their children (even when it is assigned as homework).

Good luck expanding your program. Congrats on being one of the "good ones."

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dhollweg | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 26, 2012 at 5:53 AM (Answer #3)

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Unfortunately, at the high school level, all this seems to get lost. Now, I've only taught at two different high schools in my 11 years of teaching, but I can't help but feel young adults are on their own with this. Certainly there are those engaged parents; but I don't feel they are tapped into the literacy needs and assignments of their student. And I've never heard of a program that tries to develop a relationship between parent and teen and teacher in regards to literacy. I've come across those ideas at more of the elementary leve. Not that one doesn't exist at some high school. But it would be an intersting paradigm to look at and try to put in practice with young adults.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 26, 2012 at 4:43 PM (Answer #4)

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One thing you could do is assign each class or grade level a special task to do with the book.  For example, one group could turn the book into a song, one group could do a play, and another could try brining the book to life by having a tea party with the characters or something similar.

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lschertz | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 6, 2012 at 2:02 AM (Answer #5)

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At our school, we do a family reading night. We use Monarch books - which are chosen by the Illinois Library Association - but any set of books would work.  The teachers and librarian share the responsibility of making sure students are familiar with these books by the time Family Reading Night occurs.  Then, parents bring their entire families to tihs night put on by teachers, administrators and the librarian.  There are activities centered around each book, such as science experiments, food to go with it, readers theater, etc. 

These are all ways for parents to get involved wth their child at home.  If parents and students can reread a book and recreate a Family Reading Night Project that they love, family literacy is occuring.  If students and parents get the idea to turn their own books into readers theater scripts together, family literacy is occuring.

In fact, a Reader's Theater night would be a fantastic way to encourage parents to read aloud to kids.  Showing parents how to model expression and expect it out of their children as well, in a way that makes reading fun and involves the whole family, is priceless. 

A school wide event incorporating technology would be incredibly useful as well. Many parents have tablets and kindles, and many students are reading books to on these devices. Teaching parents how to find worthwhile apps, how to use the tablet to best read aloud with their kids, how to record and playback the books that they read, are all ways that technology could be incorporated into encouraging parent read-alouds.

One thing that I do in my classroom that parents and students alike LOVE is Mystery Reader.  Every Friday a parent comes in and reads a book that they have chosen to the class.  This gets kids to see parents as readers and as lovers of books.  If they love reading enough to come in and share it with the class, then it must be important and great! Students also get to hear multiple adults reading with fluency and expression, and their get to hear how books sound different when different people read them.  (For example, if a parent reads a book I have previously read, or I read one they read, we can discuss how it sounds different when each person reads it).  This gets parents involved and makes them feel like they are a part of their student's literacy learning.

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hillaryrb | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 6, 2012 at 8:44 PM (Answer #6)

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Unfortunately, at the high school level, all this seems to get lost. Now, I've only taught at two different high schools in my 11 years of teaching, but I can't help but feel young adults are on their own with this. Certainly there are those engaged parents; but I don't feel they are tapped into the literacy needs and assignments of their student. And I've never heard of a program that tries to develop a relationship between parent and teen and teacher in regards to literacy. I've come across those ideas at more of the elementary leve. Not that one doesn't exist at some high school. But it would be an intersting paradigm to look at and try to put in practice with young adults.

George, I encourage you to look into the One School, One Book program. It is the invention of the "Read to Them" organization headquarted in Richond, VA. While a majority of the schools participating in OSOB 2013 are elementary schools, the program has successfully been implemented in several secondary schools across the country. In fact, some districts have even adopted "One District, One Book" and used a specific title throughout all of their elementary, middle, and high schools. I would encourage you to contact L. Bruce Coffey, the director of Read to Them, for more information about the success he has seen with secondary populations. Good luck! 

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