Literacy is more than reading and writing. It is about having the skills to understand and communicate ideas in a variety of ways, think critically about concepts, and develop an understanding of subject matter. Teachers in School District No. 73 focus on teaching literacy skills that will create thoughtful citizens and life-long learners.
Literacy learning is about developing interests, strategies, and skills in a positive social setting. Author and educator Dr. Richard Allington writes that students of all ages benefit from literacy instruction that includes six personalized daily essentials:
Every Child, Every Day
These essentials are a core component of many balanced literacy frameworks used by teachers in our district.
Whether teaching Kindergarten, Biology 12, or any grade or subject in between, all teachers provide students with literacy instruction and learning opportunities.
School District No. 73 now has literacy resource teachers in seven Kamloops elementary schools. These teachers collaborate with primary classroom teachers and co-create lessons, suggest resources, assist with assessment, and promote family literacy.
Our district is part of a provincial network called Changing Results for Young Readers. For this powerful inquiry project, participating teachers meet regularly to discuss ways they can help all children become successful and joyful readers. Besides sharing strategies and developing a strong local network, teachers work with respected educator and author Faye Brownlie.
Other literacy learning opportunities include in-services for teachers, project-focused groups, after-school workshops, local specialist associations, collegial planning, and Professional Development Days with educators such as Faye Brownlie, Adrienne Gear, and Betty Schultze.
Within the classroom, teachers use a variety of on-going assessments in order to plan effective lessons for their students. Some of these formats include teacher observation, reading records, rubrics, BC Performance Standards, and self-assessments.
At the district level, assessment information is collected through the Primary Reading Assessment (Grades 1 through 3), Whole Class Readin g Assessment (Grades 4 through 7), Foundational Skills Assessments (Grades 4 and 7), and Provincial Exams (Grades 10 through 12).
School District No. 73 offers many opportunities to students to enhance literacy skill development. Some of these annual events include Battle of the Books, Heritage Fair, and the Young Authors' Conference.
Reading Success at Home
Parents and caregivers are also important teachers. Parents and caregivers can help children become life-long readers. In fact, children’s author Emilie Buchwald writes, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Here are some ways to support home-reading with younger children:
Parents and caregivers can encourage older children and teens to read for enjoyment, too. It takes about 10,000 hours to become accomplished at any task. Reading is like learning how to play an instrument or becoming good at sports. It takes time and commitment to become skilled at reading, but the investment is worth it.
Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week
Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week coincides with National Family Literacy Day on January 27th of each year. This week encourages families to reflect on the amount of time family members are "plugged in" to elecronic devices such as the television, computers, iPads or tablets, video games, and cell phones. It is hoped that families will "unplug" a bit more this week and use the time to enjoy reading and playing together. To encourage this balance, numerous free activities are offered in Kamloops and promoted in The Kamloops Daily News. These activities often include swimming, skating, games nights, story times, parent presentations, and much more.
Many elementary classes also participate in the Unplug and Play Challenge, in which they think about and track their screen time for one week. It is hoped that students will become more aware of their screen time, make good decisions, and enjoy a balanced lifestyle.
It takes a community to raise a child, and our community literacy partners are helping promote and support literacy skill development. Two important school and community partnerships offered in some elementary schools include Come Read with Me and One to One Children's Literacy Program. Fiona Clare, Literacy Outreach Coordinator for Literacy in Kamloops (LinK), coordinates these programs.
Come Read with Me
This two-hour session during the school day is for parents of Grade 1 students. Fiona Clare reinforces the home and school connection by providing parents and caregivers with simple, positive strategies they can use to support their child with home-reading. Parents and caregivers go home with new knowledge and a bag of materials that includes the helpful handbook Reading Success at Home, a new book, sight word cards, word games, foam dice, a bookmark, and more. Schools provide a breakfast or light snack and help sponsor the program. Please Contact Fiona Clare or Tricia Persad for more information.
What parents say about Come Read with Me:
“Thank you. Excellent program. It is great for parents to know some of these strategies and especially to understand about the fun part of reading – to help create confidence.”
“I really enjoyed this and will find it helpful even with my older kids."
One to One Children's Literacy Program
This program, which has been offered for over fifteen years in Kamloops, is one of the largest volunteer reading support programs in the province. Trained parent and community volunteers provide tentative readers in Grades 1 through 6 with three thirty-minute, weekly reading sessions over ten to twelve weeks. Twenty-five schools offer the program, providing regular tutoring support to approximately 400 students. While no formal assessment is conducted, teachers report an increase in students' self confidence and improvement in students’ skills and attitude. The program continues to build school/community connectedness, in addition to creating trained tutors who enjoy a mentoring relationship with students. The program also provides many parents the opportunity to learn helpful strategies to support their own children's reading at home. Please Contact Fiona Clare or Tricia Persad for more information.