February 20, 2016 – Children from Parkview Village Elementary, Johnson Street Global School and Southwest Elementary School descended upon High Point University to participate in a literacy event hosted by Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in the field of education. Every year Kappa Delta Pi, KDP, host an event promoting literacy as part of their national requirements. Last year the KDP society made a children’s library while this year they are hosting Literacy Alive!. This event promoted literacy through themed rooms and activities based on a specific children’s book. Aside from celebrating reading, additional goals were to promote culturally diverse literature.
The executive members of Kappa Delta Pi greeted the children and their parents before they joined the 42 KDP members spread out around the School of Education. These members spent several weeks in preparation to decide on decorations and crafts for the children to complete in conjunction with their books. Senior Amy Jamil had this to say while setting up for the event, “I’m just so excited about this event. It will be great to see some of my students outside of the classroom and build relationships with them and their parents.”
The books showcased today include The Day the Crayons Quit, I Love Saturday y Domingos, and various versions of Cinderella. Each room was decorated with streamers and signs and featured activities such as crown making in Cinderella, apple making for the book The Giving Tree, and visualization drawing for Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Junior Kayla Barbour, who was reading the book The Name Jar, commented “It’s so wonderful to see the community and bond with kids while promoting literacy and culture.”
At the end of the day, Delia Walker shared, “I’ve really seen kids open up to the other cultures. They are willing and are excited to learn. This event is a great way to get not only the kids excited about reading but also students in the education department.” It really was a successful event as the children got to shop in our Literacy Alive! Bookstore and take home some free books. These free books were part of a generous donation of 1,000 books by Parragon Books. Remaining books will be donated to local schools, churches and libraries. As future educators, the HPU KDP members all walked away hoping that as teachers who love to teach, we have taught some students to love learning.
With guest author, Byron Garrett, reading from his recently published There’s Greatness on the Inside, HPU’s School of Education launched an after school creative writing initiative at Montlieu Academy of Technology this fall semester. Students enrolled in Dr. Cavendish’s Foundations of Writing course and Dr. Vess’ Collaboration in General Education course taught the elementary students each Thursday from 2:30-4:15. Approximately 70 children in grades 3-5 enrolled in the program, many more than the anticipated 20-25. “Sadly, we had to close the enrollment, even though we had interest of 30 more after the registration date,” explained Dr. Sarah Vess. “It was a welcome surprise to see so many children who are passionate about writing and photography.”
Dr. Vess and Dr. Leslie Cavendish collaborated together in developing the expressive arts program alongside Dr. Kirsten Li-Barber, Associate Professor in the department of Psychology. “Our goal was to offer opportunities for elementary children to develop their identities of members of the community of High Point through photography and writing”, stated Dr. Cavendish. The HPU pre-service teachers implemented writing lessons that incorporated themes of identity by having the children exploring who they are where they are from. Some examples of the writing included bio poems, “I am From” poems modeled after George Ella Lyons’ work as well as narrative pieces about special spaces the children cherish. Additionally, Caroline Sloan, senior, taught photography lessons that included the rule of thirds, concepts of foreground/middle ground/back ground and using objects to symbolize feelings and meaning. The children were given disposable cameras to take home, so they could build a bridge between their home and school lives. The school of education received a grant that paid for the developing and publishing fees.
When reflecting on the experience and their writing, the children explained their pride in their work. A fifth grade girl stated, “I think I did good on my “I am” poem, because I was inspired” and another explained, “This piece is the best because it is my world, and my passion.” A fourth grade boy explained his favorite part of the program was, “Spending time with my (HPU) teacher”. In the final meeting, the 70 children chose a particular piece of writing to revise and publish. They also selected a photo to accompany the writing. High Point University students are publishing the children’s writing and developing an expressive arts exhibit that will be open to families on November 2nd at Montlieu Academy of Technology.
In order to address the broader national goal of promoting reading proficiency among K-6 students, students majoring in elementary and special education partner with under-performing elementary schools to participate in the Book Buddies Program. Through a formalized partnership with designated low performing schools, the program provides candidates with a clinical field experience which engages elementary students in reading, writing, and listening. Education majors are paired with a K-5 student to model strategies for the teaching of reading. With the Book Buddies Program, students meet with their “buddy” weekly in a one-on-one capacity and conduct read alouds to gain experience with what researchers have called “the single most important literacy event” to promote reading proficiency. Each spring, education majors add to their skills and use reading assessments to write and implement lesson plans to inform their instructional decisions for the Book Buddies. An extension of Book Buddies includes a Family Literacy Night at a local elementary school project that students plan and implement.
Goals of the Book Buddies Program:
The School of Education Book Buddies Program allows K-5 students to receive one-on-one support in reading. Elementary and special education majors receive clinical experience learning about a student’s areas of strength and needs as a reader and how to select appropriate texts for planning beneficial instruction based on assessment data. Further, the Book Buddies program allows education majors to see, firsthand, the results of their instructional decision-making. The program reinforces the understanding of how important building relationships with students as a way to heighten engagement and learning can be.
High Point University juniors read aloud to Kindergarteners, First Graders and Second graders at Montlieu Academy of Technology on Monday September 21st. The HPU Elementary and Special education majors carefully prepared lesson plans that incorporated reading aloud quality children’s literature, a shared reading of a poem and discussion to emphasize comprehension of texts. The HPU juniors organized their lessons to build a love of reading, to model thinking while reading as well as rereading poems to build fluency. Ms. Scott, the principal at Montlieu greeted the juniors emphasizing how much the children enjoy having HPU as their partners and that the kids were looking forward to having visitors reading aloud. “This was a huge learning experience for me”, stated Morgan Gould. Dr. Cavendish explained, “I was very proud of the HPU students. They were well prepared, the children enjoyed their teaching and everyone left school that day having learned through reading and enjoying a book together.”
November 17, 2014 – Megan Bryant, prolific children and young adult author, came to High Point University to share insights into her life as a writer with the elementary teacher candidates. Dr. Debbie Linville partnered with BookMarks Authors in Schools & Community to bring Mrs. Bryant to campus to afford seniors and graduate students presently enrolled in the Process Writing methods course the opportunity to hear firsthand what it is like to live a “writerly” life.
Mrs. Bryant discussed the importance of reading, honing keen observation skills, and making the commitment to write every day if you choose to make writing a career. She shared about her lack of confidence as a writer in the early years, her writing habits and struggles, strategies to overcome writer’s block, and the exhilaration that stems from knowing you have given your best effort for the reading enjoyment of others.
Megan surprised and delighted the audience by reading two chapters from her newest young adult novel manuscript, Glow, recently submitted to the publisher. The novel centers on the little known Radium Girls; female factory workers who painted radioactive radium on the watch dials to make them glow in the dark. To hear Megan talk about painting her fingernails different colors to help her get into character, listening to music from WWI, and having the ticking of a radium pocket watch (a gift from her husband) sitting by her side as she typed out her ideas on the computer keys gave teacher candidates a window seat on what it means to live the “writerly” life.
At the SERVES Showcase on April 15, HPU had over 75 posters created by students illustrating and reflecting on the service they completed this year. Over 250 students, faculty, staff, and community members attended and learned a lot about how this university is partnering with our community. Awards were given away, and Kappa Delta Phi, the Education Honors Society earned the “Biggest Impact Award” for their Literacy Alive! service project “Y-Brary”. “ These projects bring hope, encouragement, and a love for reading which in itself provides so much for a child. Volunteering for these projects with other people who dedicate their lives to enriching children is an incredible experience in itself. But to know we are helping to improve their way of life, even through something as simple as reading material, is more rewarding than any other project I’ve been blessed to be a part of”, explained Nicole Straley, KDP Membership Chair, ’16. They were awarded a $300 cash prize which they will use to continue to fund the library they have created at the High Point YMCA.
“As a senior, I have been blessed to have been the president of this honor society for two years. I wanted our chapter to do something BIG and make a large impact in our community. This opportunity fell in our hands and the members of KDP have come together to make this project come to life. We are so excited to have created this partnership and hope that this Literacy Alive! Project continues for a very long time. It is my hope that this “Y-brary” gives the students a place where they can lose themselves in a book and fall in love with reading.” -Kaila Tuccio (President of KDP, ‘15)
“I plan on getting my master’s in education with a concentration in literacy and through this project I have truly realized the importance of reading and I cannot wait to see how these children’s futures benefit from our “Y-brary.” -Matti Rose (Literacy Alive! Chair, ‘15)
November 2014 – Through the generosity of the Walmart Foundation, High Point University Elementary Education majors were afforded the opportunity to promote the joy of reading to the entire student body at Kirkman Park Elementary School; Pre-K-5th grade. Debbie Albert, instructor of the Children’s Literature course, applied for the grant in hopes she and her students would have an opportunity to spread the joy of reading. The project, entitled “A Book and a Blanket” provided a book and a blanket for each child in the school so each one might experience the joy and comfort realized from curling up with their own book and blanket.
The Elementary majors visited each classroom to share a read-aloud of a recently published children’s book, encouraged children as readers, and then gifted each child with their own book and blanket to take home. Mrs. Albert notes that we must first model for children the joy of reading if we are expecting to grow proficient readers. “If children do not experience the joy and purpose of reading, the many tasks for which we labor over in the classrooms each day will be a futile attempt in the goal of creating proficient, lifelong readers.”
October 2014 – High Point University seniors hosted a Literacy Night October 29 for the families and students at Florence Elementary. Over 100 families participated in the event! The High Point University elementary teacher candidates planned and executed many and varied hands-on, minds-on literacy station activities that allowed children and their families to experience the joy of reading and writing. By providing engaging ideas that parents can recreate at home, HPU pre-service teachers played an active role in promoting the school-home connection and supporting the literacy development of elementary children.
November 2013 – High Point University seniors hosted a Literacy Night November 4 for the families and students at Montlieu Academy of Technology. Over 100 families participated in the event!
The HPU elementary education majors worked as partners creating a literacy themed station for elementary students to visit with their parents. Activities ranged from applying reading comprehension strategies to writing to create new characters. One station invited parents, Montlieu students and siblings to examine how the genre of historical fiction can be used as an engaging resource to learn about American History.
The impact of literacy night reaches far beyond the one evening in November. The Montlieu students and parents have literacy strategies they can apply year round at home and in school. Our HPU seniors even donated their literacy station resources to the teachers of Montlieu Academy of Technology for them to use in their classrooms.
Teacher education elementary majors in the School of Education at High Point University have the opportunity to participate in a weekly Book Buddy program with children at two area partner schools – Montlieu Academy of Technology and Florence Elementary. Over the years, the partnerships have developed and grown to include additional literacy experiences for the pre-service teachers and the children, teachers, and families at the elementary schools.
Research is clear…mentoring is a beneficial practice toward nurturing continued learning, promoting empowerment, growing teaching excellence, and fostering leadership in the educational arena. In an effort to provide a professional space where M.Ed. (Elementary, Literacy Concentration) graduates of High Point University can continue to build capacity to enhance literacy teaching and learning, Dr. Debbie Linville initiated a Literacy Support Group in the Fall, 2013. The group meets regularly and has established its own blog.
The High Point University cohort of the North Carolina Association of Elementary Educators chose Florence Elementary to be this year’s recipient of the first annual Outreach Project.