Literacy is Everywhere and for Everyone
The Great Valley Writing Project is truly an inspiration for educators all over the country. Being a part of this community has enriched my career. Planning and developing our literacy event for families gave way to great conversation and pondering about what it means to truly give access to literacy in everything we do as educators.
A common goal for participants of this project is to bring literacy to our communities and to open the door to so many more families than what we have limited ourselves to before. A large portion of time at the beginning of our planning was simply cultivating ideas and exploring a wide array of resources we hadn’t considered before. With the guidance of inspirational educators who visited our meetings and spoke on the experiences they had already had, new members were able to expand our thinking. We heard of great projects, like community gardens and picture books that one would not usually equate with literacy, however, they opened the door to inspiration for many families.
Now, our task was to create an event where we could show families that literacy is more than just letters and words. There is literacy all around us in everything that we do. The teachers from my school site decided to bring an array of events for families to choose to attend. Some families could choose to participate in making a volcano, learning about colors and making rainbows, learning about dream catchers and painting.
Due to the current restrictions of the COVID 19 pandemic, we had to strategize and think about which set up would work best for transmitting online. It was a task all in itself to get the process of sign up started and get students excited about the activities. Families picked up materials that were needed for each activity at school and had them for the planned Family Night event.
The event was such an eye opening experience. The event was set up so that students could choose whichever activity they would want to participate in for that night. This meant that students coming into each activity could range anywhere from first through sixth grade. When I would see which students signed up for different activities, it helped me to realize how everyone had their own different interests. Even as educators sometimes we can get so set in what we think each student is like and what they will or wil not enjoy.
Opening up our event so that students could choose their own activity gave them the freedom to explore and be more engaged in what they were doing. I wondered how this would change our community if we applied the same principle to how we worked together. Literacy was the main focus of each of those distinct activities, even if the participants weren’t aware right away. So many times we focus on the letters, of who knows how to read and who doesn’t and this affects how receptive people are to literacy, even as adults. If we created a safe space and brought back the joy of learning, I’m sure even adults would step in and take advantage of the learning taking place.
I would love to be a part of another event similar to this one. I certainly hope I am able to partake in another activity where families can come together with their children and just have fun learning. We know that when parents are involved, students do so much better. Let’s invite parents back into the classroom, back into the learning space, back into literacy.Truly, my eyes were opened to a new way of thinking and delivering learning. When we give access to families to literacy, they are empowered and encouraged to make great changes. We bring back the desire to grow and be lifelong learners.