Facilitating Language and Literacy Skills through Home, School, and Community Connections
Presentation at National Youth-at-Risk Conference
The proposal addresses "heart" in developing the social and emotional skills of at-risk youth through authentic language and literacy development strategies. The proposal addresses "home" in showcasing strategies to build self-confidence and instill pride in family and community. It also discusses a service learning family literacy initiative undertaken by pre-service teachers.
Brief Program Description
This session will demonstrate research-based activities conducted in family literacy workshops held in local schools and community centers to promote authentic learning experiences at home. In addition, teacher education candidates will model family literacy activities created in a Language Acquisition course in order to integrate theory with practice. These children’s books and projects were donated to a local community center for Early Childhood Center families.
This session will describe family literacy workshops held in local schools and community centers in order to promote continued literacy learning at home. The goal of the workshops is to provide parents with meaningful tools and resources so that they are better able to create high-quality learning environments for their children and are more skilled at partnering with teachers when their child enters school. In order to gauge participants’ comfort level and familiarity with the content of the literacy workshop and measure growth, a pre-and post-assessment survey was administered before and after the workshop began. This assessment and results from the assessment will be distributed to conference attendees.
As the workshop facilitator, I modeled instructional strategies and provided participants with literacy materials and books focusing on environmental print, poetry, shared book reading, comprehension skills, and early writing development. I also outlined various approaches that can be used to enhance young children’s enjoyment of reading and writing. Handouts containing sample activities will be distributed to conference attendees.
In addition, teacher education candidates will describe family literacy activities that they created in a Language Acquisition course and explain the research/theory that supported its creation. These family literacy packets and children’s books were delivered to a local community center for families at the Early Childhood Center to utilize with their children. Handouts with the sample activities will be distributed to conference attendees.
The objectives of the sessions were multifaceted. The primary goal of the workshop was to strengthen participants’ abilities to excite their children about reading and writing. I hoped to provide parents with quality instructional activities to promote “concepts about print” and enable them to conduct an effective read-aloud. In addition, I shared a variety of tools to facilitate early writing experiences. Handouts explaining how to conduct these activities with families will be distributed to conference attendees. Lastly, the workshop aimed to enable parents to implement demonstrated strategies to support early language development.
According to Hart and Risley’s landmark study on language development (1995), children’s academic successes at ages nine and ten are attributable to the amount of language they hear from birth to age three. Providing parents with tools to create high-quality early learning experiences at home will prepare students to be active participants in language and literacy learning when they enter formal schooling. Mastering these skills will optimize children’s academic and personal successes. Research shows that children learn vocabulary best when words are presented in a meaningful context or thematically (Gambrell, 2015; Harris, Golinkoff, & Hirsh-Pasek, 2011).
In order to gauge participants’ comfort level and familiarity with the content of the literacy workshop, a pre-assessment survey was administered before the workshop began. Questions on the survey addressed participants’ familiarity with conducting a “picture walk” with their child, making predictions, visual literacy skills, comprehension development, discussion around text, illustrating text, and shared writing activities (McKenna & Stahl, 2008). Ten items appeared on the pre and post workshop assessment. Results of the participants’ pre and post workshop assessment will be shared with participants.
Picture books convey meaning through the use of two sign systems—written language and visual images (Serafini, 2010). The primary focus with picture books has been on cultivating skills and strategies that promote an understanding of written text. However, in our increasingly visual world, pedagogical strategies for understanding visual images merit consideration and have only recently begun to be explored in the literature (Anstey & Bull, 2006; Albers, 2008). Clearly, there is value in teaching skills and strategies to enable young children to interpret and analyze images. One parent noted that she will “spend more time discussing pictures and keeping the child’s attention” now as she reads. These family literacy initiatives aim to “wholeheartedly encourage children to read a variety and number of texts… (with a sense of) authentic engagement” (Benning, 2014, p. 632).
National Youth-at-Risk Conference
Katz, Anne, Claire Edwards, Ashley McCurley.
"Facilitating Language and Literacy Skills through Home, School, and Community Connections."
Curriculum, Foundations, & Reading Faculty Presentations.