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News and Notes

#BestYearEver: Literacy at WLES

Guest Contributor: Heidi Roy-Borland, Literacy Coach

At this time last year, WLES created the Literacy Leadership Team.  This group of classroom teachers, teacher consultants, reading interventionists, paraprofessionals, our principal, parents, and Northfield Township Area Library staff meet monthly to infuse our school community with positive opportunities to learn how to read and write.  The team focuses on engaging & partnering with families and the community around literacy, embedding literacy in school activities, and improving student achievement in literacy.  

How is this work being accomplished?  Read on to learn how the Literacy Leadership Team is working to make the 2019-2020 school year the #BestYearEver.

Reading and Cardmaking Rooms at North Pole Night

If you attended North Pole Night in December, you may have noticed the new reading and cardmaking rooms.  Both of these activities offered families a quiet place to share a book, listen to a story with Mrs. Claus, or write a card to a local nursing home.  What might seem like simple, festive activities, are actually part of our literacy strategy. The best way to get children engaged in reading is by helping them experience the joy of sharing a book and making reading exciting; thanks to Mrs. Claus, we did just that.  Writing cards provided an authentic audience and purpose for writing, which results in a more thoughtful and refined writing product. We look forward to infusing as many school activities with our literacy initiatives. 

One School, One Book

Yes. You read that right. Our entire school is reading the same book at the same time. On Tuesday morning, “School Days According to Humphrey” by Betty G. Birney was revealed as our first One School, One Book title.  All preschool through sixth-grade students and staff members received a copy of the book to read together with their families following a reading calendar. Over the next few weeks, as we all read the same book, students will have a chance to answer trivia questions, we will have some book giveaways, and more to engage the whole school in reading!  You can even tune into our district’s Facebook page where we will share a video of one of our staff members reading that day’s scheduled reading so you can listen and read right along. Our friends at the Northfield Township Area Library will have a special One School, One Book reading time on Saturdays, books to check out from the Humphrey series, and a special activity you can only do at NTAL!  

One School, One Book is a HUGE project for our school because we are working to accomplish some BIG goals!  Research supports getting kids hooked on reading, making reading a social activity, responding to reading in writing, reading multiple books in a series to build comprehension, reading as a family activity, and providing books to kids to grow their home libraries.  We can target all of these goals with One School, One Book so it is worth the work and energy!

You can see the One School, One Book welcome letter and reading calendar here. Thank you to WLPS PTO for funding this school-wide initiative.

WLES School-wide Book Swap

To celebrate “March is reading month”, WLES classrooms swap and share a thematic collection of read-aloud books.  This year’s theme is Friendship & Kindness. Each classroom starts with one title, reads the book, and swaps it for a new one. The goal is to read and learn from as many of the books as possible during the month.  At the end of the month, all the books become part of the WLES Media Center catalog so kids may check out their favorites to read over and over. This year, we are fortunate to have Rich Luterman from FOX 2 News and Brandon Roux from WDIV Channel 4 visiting WLES to read to the whole school!  Maybe WLES will make the news?! Thank you to The Foundation for funding this project.

Read with Me Wednesdays

This new weekly social media spot can be read on the WLPS Facebook page and the Livefeed every Wednesday.  Book recommendations, reading tips, and literacy resources are shared each week. The next few Read with Me Wednesdays will focus on multiple facets of the One School, One Book initiative.  Check it out and get some tips and tricks from WLES staff!

Book Bingo

Mark your calendars…Book Bingo is scheduled for Monday, June 1 from 6:00-7:30 PM.  This fun-filled family evening of literacy-themed bingo gives books and other reading-related prizes away to WLES students.  Book Bingo is designed to provide kids with books of their choice to read all summer long. Every child wins at least 10 books to add to their home libraries and keep their brains active from when school releases in June until we come back in August.  Last year, WLES gave away nearly 5,000 books and over 100 additional reading-related prizes such as book series, cozy reading chairs, and gift certificates to book stores. Each year we raise $3,000 to make this event FREE to WLES students and their families.  We are in the middle of securing donations right now. If you, or someone you know, would like to donate gently used books or make a monetary donation to this event, please contact me at heidi.roy-borland@wlps.net.   

Family & Community Engagement

While the Literacy Leadership Team plans many literacy events, we have to celebrate the dedication of WLES families and community to literacy.  The partnership between home and school has grown tremendously in the last two years. A few points that are especially noteworthy include:

-Attendance at ALL literacy events increased this year!

-Northfield Township Area Library staff partnered with WLES on many events!

-Summer family literacy event attendance doubled in just two years!

-100% of invited first graders will attend after school tutoring this winter!

-Kiwanis, WLPS PTO, and The Foundation provided financial support to keep initiatives FREE or low cost!

-Book Fair purchases surpassed record sales!

-Book Bingo attendance has nearly tripled since it began in 2016!

All of this is only possible with invested families.  Thank you for being a partner in education. 

If you would like to help the Literacy Leadership Team make 2020 #BestYearEver, please join us.  The next meeting is Thursday, March 5 from 3:45-4:45 PM in the WLES Media Center. I look forward to seeing you.

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