This 2018-2019 school year I co-organized our literacy night with my amazing co-teaching partner, Lindsey Pyell. 🙂 We wanted to approach the topic of literacy night in a more global and multimodal way, so we modified the name to be our:
Night of Literacies
The goal was to highlight all of the vast literacies all around us, and how each genre has its own reading, writing, listening, and speaking approach to its practice and proficiency. Rather than focus solely on an English Language Arts approach, we challenged our grade levels to think of a genre of literacy to focus on, and we provided the examples of math literacy, science literacy, career-based literacies, etc. After much discussion in teams and in leadership, we decided on the following: (Click HERE for the PDF).
We were thrilled (as were our families) to have the PTA support our event, and to have community partnerships with one of our high schools, the mayor, district office leadership, paramedics, firemen, and the police!
You might notice that math literacy wasn’t one of the stops, but Lindsey and I supported this literacy by having math prompts on butcher paper covered lunchroom tables (where the PTA was handing out ice cream sandwiches). HERE is a link to those prompts.
Our grade level teams really stepped up to the plate to offer amazing literacy engagement ideas. For example, 2nd grade had leaf rubbings, which turned into scientific diagrams, with Observational Science; 1st grade had families reflect on what GRIT meant to them and how it help them to soar, with GRIT Literacy; and 5th grade had two sessions, one that focused on coding and one that took families through the design and trial process with airplane making for Science Literacy. 🙂
First grade’s GRIT literacy was also a collaborative art project, where families put their ideas on individual feathers, that created a powerful photo-capturing display. Here is a picture of me with my GRIT wings.
Our teachers are so clever, creative, and hard working! They truly made the night a success and helped to give families an interactive taste of what a day at our school is like.
I am so very grateful to Lindsey Pyell, for working so hard with me for last month or so, for thinking through the big and small details with me…and for getting us these amazing matching shirts! 🙂
I hope this helps you and your school think through your own Night of Literacies, stretching definitions and visuals of what literacy is and looks like in action. Upon reflection, here are some tips we have learned in the process:
- DO have staff members be among your list of guest readers. Our students loved having our PE teacher read and it was great for them to see him in that light. He is such an avid reader!
- DO have it toward the end of the week. The beginning of the week is just tough for a later night, but…
- DON’T back it up to a longer weekend. Our attendance was much lower than expected. We didn’t back it up to a holiday, but to a Teacher Work Day, so many families got a jump start on their extra day.
- DO think through multiple announcement methods. I presented at PTA, made flyers, and it was sent home electronically, but I think more effort could have been explored. We tried to save on copies, with the electronic mailing, but next time maybe a QR-Code could be sent home, in addition to some copies, that linked to the flyer.
- Most Importantly, DO love the engagement moments, no matter the turn out. Our lower number of attendees provided breathing space in the sessions and allowed for teachers to work individually with families, which was such a heart-warming site to see.
Below is an example of our flyer, in case this sparks an idea or two for you. Click HERE for the PDF.