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Family Literacy Event

Written by Katie Garth
May 20, 2021

COVID Didn’t Cancel Community in my Life Because…

A virtual multi-modal event for family literacy.

This year I had the opportunity to design a family literacy event as part of the Panda Fellowship Program through the Illinois State University Writing Project. When this task was initially launched, it seemed a bit overwhelming in pandemic times, however, through collaboration with other Panda members that also work in my school district we developed a district-wide asynchronous multi-modal event. Again, thinking of Pandemic times, we wanted to flip the tables a bit and get our families thinking about the positive outcomes of the Pandemic in relation to community building, so we decided to provide a place for families to reflect and speak to those positives.

On the one year anniversary of our school district shutting down we launched a flipgrid post asking students and families to respond to the prompt “COVID didn’t cancel community in my life because…” In preparation for the launch we developed a google form which included an opportunity for students to write toward the prompts before recording their video submission. We also got district leaders involved, created a video montage of their responses, and used the video to launch our event on our district facebook page.

That video can be seen here.

Over the next few weeks we encouraged families to complete the pre-writing task and submit their video. After the submission link had been live we began sending out gift cards to Bobzbay, a local bookstore within our town to thank families for taking the time to contribute. Including a gift card to this small business also allowed us to give back to our community and potentially introduce families to a new place to shop.

A few of my favorite videos are:

Viewing the responses brought joy to our hearts as families shared the positives that COVID had brought to their life, whether it be a new appreciation for school, or simply more time to spend with family. Our event was definitely a success, however, I thought the biggest win for me was the community building that this activity led to among my own class. Students absolutely LOVED watching each other’s videos and then would often talk about connections they made the following day at school. It sparked a lot of positive talk in a year that has been extremely challenging for us all.

Reflecting on this experience, I am challenging myself to continue to think about ways to bring family voices into the classroom, even if those voices remain virtual.

I’ll leave you with this challenge, take a few moments and complete the prompt yourself: COVID didn’t cancel community in my life because…