District schools are celebrating reading, writing and comprehension during Family Literacy Week, January 26 to 30, 2009. Events are planned at many schools.
List of upcoming events (pdf file) www.hpedsb.on.ca/newsroom/wp-content/uploads/file/literacy_events_jan09.pdf 
Improvement in literacy is a major focus in all HPEDSB schools. One of the ways this is being done is through the emphasis on the intentional instruction of high-level thinking skills that assist students to better understand information they are reading.
"We know that literacy is about far more than just reading words. It is about understanding the meaning of language that is found in many places – such as books, in magazines, on websites, in manuals, on signs, in newspapers, magazines and in advertisements," remarks Colleen DeMille, System Principal.
This means being able to making meaningful connections to the author’s message and the important information in the text, identifying key messages, and point of view.
“As adults we take these skills for granted but we know through the research and our experience that these are learned skills that need to be explicitly taught. Children do not all naturally develop these skills without guidance and support from home and school,” DeMille adds.
It is also about assisting students to become critical literate learners by providing them with opportunities to identify and analyze underlying messages in print and media, and encouraging them to express their thoughts and opinions, question and challenge the ideas and beliefs that lie beneath the surface.
"Character development goes hand-in-hand with literacy instruction," explains DeMille. "Whenever possible, we try to focus on the use of stories that portray our Growing with Character attributes: caring, cooperation, honesty, humour, integrity, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness. We find that using fiction and non-fiction stories with these character development themes are very useful for assisting students to identify and reflect upon key life lessons and to discuss issues of great personal significance that they can identify with in their daily lives."
Students are learning to independently produce writing for an intended purpose and audience in various subject areas.
An area of emphasis at every elementary school this year is the implementation of strategies to increase parent/ community involvement and engagement in literacy. Staff are working in partnership with local libraries and the Ontario Early Years Centre to provide communications to parents to inform about upcoming events and enriching literacy family activities. Each month literacy articles are collated at the system level and distributed to schools for inclusion monthly school newsletters.
Other strategies being used include the following:
- Family literacy nights that give parents an opportunity to experience the many strategies being used to teach their children how to read and respond to their reading
- Literacy hall displays in school entrances and outside classes
- Information sent home by teachers to help inform parents about the literacy activities happening in the classroom
Parents are encouraged to visit their child’s school to witness first-hand the multitude of ways students are learning to read and reading to learn!
Family Literacy Day was started by ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation and Honda Canada in 1999 to promote the importance of reading and learning together as a family all year round.
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For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613-966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, extension 2354.