Parent Report: Teachers College Workshop

Once again this year, our teachers are participating in the Professional Development program at Teachers College, the graduate school of education at Columbia University. A workshop entitled “A Day for Families: Supporting a Child’s Literacy Development Takes All of Us” was held in October, and in addition to our teachers, a limited number of parents were invited to attend. Second grade parent Alison Yi kindly shares her notes.

This was a wonderful opportunity. It was great to be able to spend half a day thinking about how to support your child’s development of literacy skills.

I attended three sessions, all structured around important themes but also full of practical advice. The first session began with establishing structure to a narrative and then techniques for elaboration and development of the story. I was intrigued by suggestions on using acting, drama, sensory details, timelines, internal feelings and thoughts to deepen and bring meaning to a story. As a mother of a 7-year-old boy, I’m on the lookout for anything that will help him to give voice to his internal feelings and empathy for other’s experiences.

In the second session, we were presented with many useful ways to support early reading and writing. Sign-making, card-making, list-making, note-taking, letters, games and story telling … a long list. Some games like “Taboo” (a favorite in our family) were recommended for deepening vocabulary and mapping word relationships to concepts.

The third and final session dealt with enriching the reading experience itself to encourage growth and understanding in the developing reader. It covered everything from the what, when and how of the child’s reading to the bigger themes of how the child can use reading material to develop the ability to debate and think critically. At all levels of reading ability, asking the same questions of a reader leads to viewing material through many different lenses as they grow. It made me realize how parents and the family culture play such a critical part in helping children to use their reading to expand their world experience and also to participate fully in the world around them as they grow.

Thanks to Jenny and the staff for continuing to support the Teacher’s College literacy program in the school. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to attend the workshop.

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Teachers College is one of the many beneficial initiatives funded by your PTA. Please help the continuation of these and similar programs by contributing to the Direct Appeal.

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