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Literacy Event: LAA

Kayla Wilken, Katherine Liedberg, Alexandra Moyer, Amy Medeiros, Lauren Cardiello

Written by Kayla Wilken
June 21, 2021

During the pandemic our school and staff worked really hard to make sure students were supplied with everything they needed, but what we did not anticipate was the number of students who reported not having any books to read at home. This was realized when students were assigned a project in which they needed to read their favorite book and then create a writing project.  I had them use a virtual platform for  reading however,  some students reported that it “wasn’t the same”  as reading or that they couldn’t find the books they wanted.  Luckily, our principal had started a program where he, and other staff  members recorded themselves reading a story and posted them on YOUTUBE for all students to watch. My students loved listening to the stories and getting to see their favorite teachers and principal read to them! Not only was it another way to promote literature, but it also provided comfort and community during very uncertain times.
When deciding what kind of literacy project to create, we considered the need of our students and realized that we wanted to find a way to give students books they can enjoy at home. In thinking about this, we wanted students to be able to connect with an adult or family member at home while they read their books. Then we decided to take it a step further, and decided we could create an activity (writing or a craft) they could also do together. As we started to plan this out, we realized we could also give them an opportunity to share their reading with other students in the school. We put all of these thoughts together and decided to create a literacy project in which students could pick out a book to take home, practice reading with their family member or friend, and then record themselves reading the book for a school virtual library. All students can log into the virtual library and listen to stories from their friends whenever they wanted to!
We introduced this idea at a staff meeting and all teachers agreed to explain the project to their students and help them participate. We sent home fliers with students, and also posted the project on the school website. One of the teachers had a student who offered to read and record the first story which went sent out via email for all students to watch so they could see the expectation and get motivated to participate themselves. To sweeten the deal we also offered each participant a voucher for a free kids meal at Panda Express!
Despite trying our hardest to recruit student and family participation, we only received a handful of submissions for our project. Some teachers felt that perhaps it felt like “one more thing to do” for parents, or maybe it was the fact it was towards the end of the year that we started this, and many students and parents were “checked out” and done with the school year. Either way, we continued to try to motivate students to participate within our own classrooms and although it wasn’t the same as reading at home with an adult.The students loved being able to share a favorite book by reading out loud in front of their class, and then getting recorded for the virtual library. We found that students who were a bit timid or nervous to read aloud really shined and demonstrated a tremendous amount of confidence and enthusiasm for the project and for reading in general. Students reported being excited to watch their friends read and it sparked great conversations; everything from “wow she was brave to read that” to “thats my favorite book too!”
We successfully launched our virtual library, and although it is currently small, we really enjoyed creating this project with the hopes it will continue to grow in the coming school year.  This is something all of us really enjoyed working together to create, and although we only got a small amount of contributions, we saw first hand how impactful reading can for individual students and for our school community.