Sunday, June 20, 2010

Is the "glass" of urban literacy half empty in your school?

As a literacy teacher in an urban inner city school, a recent passage from my course textbook, Children's Literature in Action really got me thinking about some of the ways we view family literacy in low socioeconomic areas.

"It can be helpful to see the many literacy activities that are already occurring in family settings.  Instead of taking a deficit view of family literacy ("why aren't they reading more books?"), we can look to see what kind of literacy activities are already in place.  So often we tend to view the "glass" of urban literacy as "half empty." What kind of activities promote family literacy?  All kinds.  And if we begin where families already are, we can have a greater impact.  More reading and writing that is relevant and meaningful to both parents and children is the key." (p.6)
Vardell, S. (2008) Children's Literature in Action: A Librarian's Guide, Libraries Unlimited: United States of America.

In my lessons, I always try to make learning meaningful and relevant for my students, but I have never stopped to think about relevancy for their families. It seems so obvious now.  However, the big questions is: "What kind of literacy activities would be meaningful and relevant to our parents?"  My first thought... school or classroom newsletters? On second thought though, as a parent who frequently skims over newsletters or files them for reading later, I don't think this is the avenue.  I think we have too much irrelevant content in these letters that have made us disregard their relevance to our child.  I wonder how that came to pass.  Now how about featuring their own child's writing in newsletters?  Or what if the students themselves wrote the news for the class? What could be more meaningful to a parent than seeing their own child's work featured in the letter. Just one thought... I need to keep thinking about this one.  

If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear from you.

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