Students tackle nonfiction literacy with hands-on activities
This semester, Ansley Thompson-Rogers, Assistant Professor of Reading, assigned a unique group project to students in READ 4233 – Literacy Assessment and Instruction. The two classes each hosted an after-hours Literacy Night event for families at a partner elementary school. The events featured multiple hands-on activities to bring the content of different nonfiction books to life. Families were allowed to choose one of the books to take home after the event.
Online students from Statesboro, Armstrong and Liberty campuses hosted a 1.5 hour Literacy Night in the evening on March 22 at Frank Long Elementary School (FLE) in Hinesville. The event featured nine activity/book stations with an estimated 40 families attending. Students from Statesboro’s in-person class set up their 10 activity/book stations at the South Tattnall Elementary School Spring Fling event in Glennville with about 40 children participating.
Becky Busby, parent and teacher at FLE says, “My favorite part of the event was how engaged the kids were at each station. The preservice teachers were so professional and worked well with each child. Seeing the future educators was so inspiring.” She added, “My daughter thoroughly enjoyed every station and wanted to repeat several of the activities. She learned all about the life cycle of sea turtles, the water cycle, recycling, and butterflies.”
At first, the project was not focused specifically on nonfiction literacy, but when Thompson-Rogers consulted with the two partner schools, she found that they were both seeing low scores in that area. This insight gave Literacy Night a data-driven focus.
To help students defray the cost for required activity supplies, Thompson-Rogers says the College of Education’s Center for STEM Education and the new Re-Creation Room were crucial. The Center for STEM Education maintains a warehouse of supplies for use by teachers and teacher candidates, and the Re-Creation Room makerspace provides materials and workshop space. The Statesboro class actually met at the Re-Creation Room for three days as they prepared for their South Tattnall event.
The project provided students the chance to put their course content to practical use, but Thompson-Rogers noted the additional experience her students gained at Literacy Night. The students had time to interact with children on a personal level alongside their caregivers. They also benefited from the experience of engaging at an after-hours school event.
This year’s Literacy Nights were sponsored by the College of Education and the National Youth Advocacy and Resilience Conference. Thompson-Rogers says she is making plans to repeat the project in future courses.