Title

Facilitating Language and Literacy Skills through Home, School, and Community Connections

Location

Vernon

Strand #1

Family & Community

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance


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.

Summary

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.

Evidence

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).

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Anne Katz is an Assistant Professor of Reading in the College of Education at Armstrong State University in Savannah. She teaches undergraduate and graduate coursework in language development, literacy assessment, reading theory, diagnosis and remediation of reading difficulties, and literacy in the content areas for pre-service educators as well as masters degree candidates. Dr. Katz is involved in literacy research and professional development efforts in schools and community centers. She was selected as a 2015 Governor’s Teaching Fellow through the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia, and was named a 2015 Outstanding Faculty Member for Armstrong State University’s Women’s Empowerment Month Program. Dr. Katz is a recipient of the 2015-2016 Emerging Leaders Fellowship through the Conference on English Leadership (affiliated with the National Council of Teachers of English). She enjoys mentoring current and future educators.

Claire Edwards is a Junior Special Education major in the Department of Childhood and Exceptional Student Education at Armstrong State University. She was a student in Dr. Katz’s Spring 2015 Language Acquisition course and a mentor for the Teens for Literacy program at East Broad Street School. Her future career goals include becoming a self-contained Special Education teacher for a high school classroom. From that point, she would like to continue to extend her experience to become a department head or Assistant Principal. This would enable her to leave a heavier footprint on the future for schools and students alike.

Ashley McCurley is a Junior Special Education major in the Department of Childhood and Exceptional Student Education at Armstrong State University. She was a student in Dr. Katz’s Spring 2015 Language Acquisition course. She plans to teach in a severe and profound classroom with a specialty in Science Education. Ashley is interested in helping students learn to live independently. She enjoys reading and discovering new knowledge.

Keyword Descriptors

language, literacy, home, school, community center, children's literature, family literacy, assessment, service learning, visual literacy

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-7-2016 10:30 AM

End Date

3-7-2016 11:45 AM

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Mar 7th, 10:30 AM Mar 7th, 11:45 AM

Facilitating Language and Literacy Skills through Home, School, and Community Connections

Vernon

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.