Dozens of parents went back to school last week at King Elementary to find out how their children learn to read and write.
The Literacy Night event was sponsored by the King School Improvement Team and included demonstrations from teachers as well as students. Two sessions were offered: one on Tuesday and the other on Thursday. Some 200 adults signed up to be part of the evening programs, which also offered child care so that parents could attend.
“Tonight is about parent involvement,” said King Principal Kevin Karr, who called the night the “main event” of the school improvement team. He said it is an opportunity for parents to visit the school as well as for teachers to share some of their teaching techniques.
In the K-2 Reader’s Workshop, first grade teacher Stephanie Harris explained to parents how she encourages student involvement in the reading process.
“In my classroom, I have my kids sit in pairs on the floor,” she said. “They talk to their partners. Interacting this way, they’re all able to work together. Everyone’s engaged.”
In the 3-5 Reader’s Workshop, a group of students were involved with a demonstration with teachers Rebecca Gracey and Seth Petty.
“Sit down, have them read the book to you when you’re cooking dinner. Let them do the independent reading in the same room,” Gracey suggested to parents. “Ask them questions. You want to make it fun for them. Find ways to help them enjoy it.”
In Judy Knorr’s fourth-grade writing class, she explained to parents how she encourages student creativity. “When the kids actually get into writing, they think it has to be exact,” she said of students writing about their experiences. “I tell them you can embellish just a little bit.”
She told parents that her students do a lot of reading in order to be good writers. “We might be going through it the first time to read it for enjoyment,” she said. “And that’s what you should do. The second time, we might ask ‘what did you think, how did it make you feel?’”
Camille Ziolek, a parent who co-chairs the improvement team with Karr, said Literacy NIght was two years in the making. She said the team eased into Literacy Night by hosting other parent activities in recent years, such as a Hands-on Family Writing Night.
Ziolek estimated that about two-thirds of King families were represented at the Literacy Night programs.
She felt the program was a success. “I’ve heard so many comments of ‘oh, I understand it now. Now I see what my kids are doing’,” she said.
Karr said his hope is that “teachers and parents develop a common language about reading and writing” from attending.
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