Sunday, September 30, 2007

Celebrating literacy

On Thursday, the community at the primary school where I'm teacher-librarian, enjoyed a glorious spring afternoon celebrating literacy with a multicultural reading picnic. Thematic reading picnics have become a popular tradition at our school. An initiative of our Priority Schools Program (PSP) Committee, these picnics have become an excellent way for the all of us - parents, caregivers, students and staff - to focus on the importance of improving literacy skills and attitudes to reading.

The students arrived at school in multicultural costumes, or dressed in the colours of the national flag of their family’s country of origin. During the day, I presented each class with a certificate acknowledging their participation in the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge for 2007. This year, 313 of the school’s 400 students successfully completed this state-wide Challenge, up from 209 students in 2006. (A lot of independent reading has been achieved, and the students’ confidence in reading for pleasure has soared; it is great to see such enthusiasm for books.)

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After lunch, the students and their visitors gathered in the main playground for a presentation of the folk tale, “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”. Our English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher assisted a group of her students to deliver alternating segments of this familiar story in a range of home languages and English. Languages represented included Croatian, Mandarin, Korean, Shona (a language of Zimbabwe), Tongan, Hindi and Farsi (a language of Afghanistan and Iran).

A multicultural trivia competition, organised by another teacher, had also been running in the days leading up to the picnic. There was also a display of multicultural picture books from the library and book reviews written by Stage 3 students (which are soon to be published by the Penrith Star).

Picnic baskets of goodies and favourite books in hand, it was then time for buddy classes and family groups to move off to various grassed areas around the school – each location was named after a different continent – for an afternoon of shared reading. It was very exciting to see all the groups on their picnic rugs so engrossed in their books.

And, today, the Sun-Herald newspaper (page 44) featured a photograph of some of our students at the picnic and quoted me in the accompanying article:
The children's picnics were centred on the joy that came from "literacy and reading, and... the fact that you can read a book anywhere. We're always looking for informal ways to get the parents up and to get them focused on literacy."

The article was titled, "Move over, teddy, this picnic's for bookworms".

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How to try to top the amazing multicultural costumes worn by the students and parents? Go intergalactic! My screen-used Tellarite ambassador's costume from "Star Trek: Enterprise" gets its (Australian) debut on home soil. The trousers came with the costume, but how about those Ugg boots, eh? My Westie contribution to the ensemble.

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It was a very hot afternoon, but the two layers of costume were surprisingly tolerable. I didn't wear the third layer, of course: the official Paramount Tellarite fat-suit! In fact, I thought maybe my result for Sunday's magic number would have been much better than 93.3 (sigh!) but it has been a week of many little celebrations and indulgences, such as: the staff dinner after Tuesday night's student disco; a thank you pavlova on Wednesday; the reading picnic on Thursday; a staff dinner at King Henry's Court restaurant on the Thursday night; a staff breakfast at McDonald's on Friday morning; end-of-term drinks on the Friday afternoon; and dining out with friends on Saturday night. What's really frustrating is that I feel skinnier. Well, they say that muscle weighs more than fat - and I have been walking a lot this week...

1 comment:

a.f.wilson said...

That Tellarite costume really does strike me as based on Earth international wear, though. I suppose there really is very little new under the sun.