by Wendy A. Smith


Possible Literacy Events

  1. Cultural Traditions
  2. Story Sharing
  3. Community Health and Literacy Fair
  4. Guest Readers
  5. Plant the Seed and Read
  6. Meet a Character Night
  7. Create a Reading Journal
  8. Family Literacy Night
  9. Family Memory Boxes
  10. BBQ & Booktalks

IRA 2010 Standard for Reading Professionals

Standard 4:  Diversity
[Educators] create and engage their students in literacy practices that develop awareness, understanding, respect, and a valuing of differences in our society.

Literacy Event #1:  Story Sharing

(Diversity- cultural, ethnic, religious, economic)


IRA Standard 4:  Element 4.1- Candidates recognize, understand, and value the forms of diversity that exist in society and their importance in learning to read and write.

Annotation/Details of the Event

Students in grades 7-12 will be interviewing older adults from St. Camillus Assisted Living and Nursing Home located in Milwaukee, WI. Students will be paired with an adult and students will interview them two times a week for two weeks.  There will be an initial "getting to know each other" meeting between each student and adult before the interviews take place.  The adults will be sharing events and details about their lives or about one specific event in their life.  Students will be taking notes during the interview, or if the adult agrees, students can record the interview to be used later.  Once the interviews have concluded, the students will take their notes and/or recordings, type them out, creating a short biography or chapter in a biography from the interviewed adults.  Students will then design a cover, perhaps including a picture of the adult, and make a book for the adult to keep.  Once all of the books are finished, there will be a celebration with refreshments at St. Camillus where students will read/share the stories.  This entire process will enable students to take part in and understand the importance of reading and writing.



Through the pairing of student to adult, the story sharing process, and general conversation, both the students and adults will learn more about one another's lives, including their cultural background, racial identity, religious beliefs, and economic status.  Diversity will be recognized, understood, and valued through this shared process. 


                                                                                                                                    243 words


Literacy Event #2:  Community Health and Literacy Fair

(Diversity- connections home and community literacy to school literacy)


IRA Standard 4:  Element 4.2- Candidates use a literacy curriculum and engage in instructional practices that positively impact students' knowledge, beliefs, and engagement with the features of diversity.


Annotation/Details of the Event

Each August on the first and third Saturday, the City of Milwaukee and a local church (Holy Redeemer) sponsor a "Back-to-School Health Fair," one on the Northside and one on the Southside, respectively.  Students of all ages accompanied by an adult are able to receive needed immunizations, vision and dental screenings, and backpacks with school supplies.  Adults receive information regarding their health and that of their child.  The City of Milwaukee and Holy Redeemer are always soliciting for other groups to participate in this Health Fair.  I will request space for a booth and provide materials for parents and students regarding literacy.  Some of the materials I will provide are: study tips and reading strategies bookmarks, award-winning book lists by grade with brief annotations, free books donated by Parent magazine (received in previous years), afterschool tutoring programs, ways for parents/guardians to support their children in school, and mini-journals with a pen donated by Michael's (craft store –end of season donation).  I will also have six children with me (two each from elementary, middle, and high school) to help make connections and talk to other children who visit our booth.  My information will directly connect to literacy resources, educational/reading strategies, and student achievement for students, parents, and the community at large.



The materials and books provided will reflect the diversity in our city (i.e. Asian, African, African-American, Hispanic, European, etc…).  I will also provide literacy materials and resources in various languages through Literacy Services of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.


                                                                                                                                    248 words



Literacy Event #3:  Cultural Traditions

(Diversity- ELL, African, and African-American, Hispanic, Native American, & European)


IRA Standard 4:  Element 4.3- Candidates develop and implement strategies to advocate for equity.

Annotation/Details of the Event

Milwaukee is a very segregated city with very rich diversity which is reflected in our public school system.  A way to teach tolerance and understand one another is by sharing our cultural backgrounds and traditions with one another.  Students, parents, and community members of all ages will be invited to one of our local high schools on the second Saturday of each month from 11:00 AM-5:00 PM to celebrate and learn about a particular culture.  There will be dances, music, food, pictures, artifacts, books, storytelling, and people (assorted ages) who can answer questions about their culture.  Most of these groups have their own Chamber of Commerce and these organizations will be key in the planning of the cultural tradition day.  Through these sharing experiences, we will all learn more about one another, what we share in common, how we are different, and how we can support one another.  Books from the culture will be there, not only as informational resources, but for the storytelling portion, especially for elementary and middle school children.  There will be opportunities for people to learn how to write their names or other words in a different language.



The sharing of various cultural traditions will promote a better understanding of one another and an appreciation of our similarities and differences.  Students of all ages will be able to read and share stories of the featured culture.  People who attend will be positively affected and treat one another with more understanding and kindness.


                                                                                                                                    247 words


Standard 5:  Literate Environment


[Educators] create a literate environment that fosters reading and writing by integrating foundational knowledge, instructional practices, approaches and methods, curriculum materials, and the appropriate use of assessments.

Literacy Event #4:  Create a Reading Journal


IRA Standard 5:  Element 5.1- Candidates design the physical environment to optimize students' use of traditional print, digital, and online resources in reading and writing instruction.


Annotation/Details of the Event

Students Grades 1-12 will be invited to our neighborhood community center to design and create their own reading journal.  Adult volunteers will also be on hand to work side-by-side with the students helping them with the materials and to emphasize the importance of reading and writing everyday.  The upper middle and high school students will be encouraged to pair up with an elementary grade student to help with the journal-making.  Computers will be available for students to include pictures, even those downloaded from their own digital device.  The students will be asked to include a picture of their favorite book's cover.  Once the students have finished making their journals, their first writing entry will be about how they felt about working together and making their own journal.  The older students can help their younger partner with the writing entry. Students can share their entry with the others and the commitment they'll make to daily reading and writing.


Literate Environment

By working together in pairs along with the support of adult volunteers, the students will understand the importance of reading and writing through the creation of their own reading journal.  They will be more committed to reading and writing everyday because the journal is their creation.  Since they will be teaching and learning from one another, this will help to improve their literacy overall.

                                                                                                                                    223 words


Literacy Event #5:  Plant the Seed and Read


IRA Standard 5:  Element 5.2- Candidates design a social environment that is low risk and includes choice, motivation, and scaffolded support to optimize students' opportunities for learning to read and write.


Annotation/Details of the Event

Students of all ages and neighborhood community members will be invited to help plant fruit, vegetables, and flowers in our community garden.  Volunteers, including local gardeners, will be there to provide not only the seeds and/or plants, but also books and other reading materials about what they will be planting, how to plant, how to care for them, and recipe books that include some of the fruits and vegetables planted.  Students and adults will work together and meet twice a week to maintain the garden.  When the fruit, vegetables, and flowers are ready, students will pick them and prepare a few for everyone to eat (flowers cut and put in a vase on a table).  If any are left over and as the harvesting season progresses, students will be able to take the fruits, vegetables, and flowers home for their families to enjoy.  Recipes from different cultures will be provided for students to take home as well.


Literate Environment

This hands-on gardening experience will provide students the opportunity to actually help grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers.  This casual atmosphere will create a low-risk environment for students to read the resource books and recipes because they will be highly motivated about the gardening and will have plenty of adult support available.


                                                                                                                                    210 words


Literacy Event #6:  Guest Readers


IRA Standard 5:  Element 5.4- Candidates use a variety of classroom configurations (i.e., whole class, small group, and individual) to differentiate instruction.


Annotation/Details of the Event

Members from the Milwaukee Bucks (basketball), Milwaukee Brewers (baseball), Green Bay Packers (football), and their wives will be invited to read to students in Grades 1-12 at various Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS).  It is important for students of all ages to be read to as many of the students in the district are struggling readers and do not come from a literacy-rich environment.  Each year these teams seek out schools, so we can extend this to MPS students.  Northwestern Mutual and Johnson Controls have been supporters of this initiative as well and have provided money for books in the past.  The guest readers will also stress the importance of reading and writing everyday through a motivational talk at the end.  At the upper middle and high school level, the guest readers will not only give the above motivational talk, but will share some of their life experiences and help to inspire these students to stay focused in school and make good choices.

Literate Environment

The students will have the opportunity to hear a fluent reader read a story or part of a story and be motivated to commit to their own reading.  The guest readers will be familiar to the students, and their personal experiences and stories will inspire them to keep moving forward and to become successful in life.  The students will be in small groups so that they feel more comfortable to engage and ask questions.  Students make connections because they will hear experiences similar to their own.


                                                                                                                                    250 words


Publicity Plan

(Literacy Event #3:  Cultural Traditions)



The purpose of the event is for students and community members to develop an understanding of other cultures and its people through dances, music, storytelling, art, and food.  The sharing of cultural traditions will help our students and community as a whole as to how we can support our students in school and how we can work together better in our community.  Students will increase their literacy skills and excitement for reading by listening to stories from various cultures, learning to write their name or a word in another language, and reading about a part of their culture that interests them through various books and resources.



Community leaders from various cultural backgrounds (i.e. Asian, African, African-American, Hispanic, Native American, European, etc…) will be contacted about this endeavor and asked to choose a month for which to participate.  Each group has a Chamber of Commerce or a lead organization that will decide what they will include for their day.  Since this event has a strong literacy initiative, they must include an aspect of this such as storytelling, writing in the featured language, and books/resources from their culture.  Food that is provided could have the recipe made available.


The lead organizations will solicit volunteers and send out flyers about this event, both in English and the featured culture.  These monthly events will be advertised on the MPS home page and a flyer will be sent to all students' homes in various languages advertising this.  MPS has regular announcements on public radio, so this would advertised several times per week.  Local news stations will be contacted to ask for coverage of these events.  Flyers will also be posted at various businesses throughout the community.  The marquee outside of the high school will advertise these Saturday events.


                                                                                                                                    295 words


literacy poster

footer bar