Students doing activity

Utilizing funding obtained through the Illinois Reading Council’s Literacy Support Grant Chicago Heights School District 170’s Garfield School recently conducted a “Going Beyond … Once Upon a Time” Parent Academy Literacy/STEM event.

The evening was the first of three to be held during the 2016-17 school year and was designed specifically to be an integral part of classroom-guided instruction while working in conjunction with the district’s Parent Academy Program.

The Parent Academy Program is a monthly in-school workshop that gives parents the opportunity to work closely with their child’s classroom teacher. During each session, parents work together with teachers to practice and reinforce new skills and concepts that their child is learning.

“We were thrilled to receive the IRC grant,” said Jennifer Gorton, the Parent Academy Workshop Coordinator, “and especially so because it serves as recognition of our efforts in improving our students’ skills in reading comprehension and problem-solving.”

"We are excited to work with our families as reading partners to help instill the love of reading in their children. It is so important for our children to see their parents as active readers," she added.

This initial “Going Beyond …Once Upon A Time” literacy initiative activity focused on the Three Little Pigs fairy tale and incorporated a variety of events designed to encourage, inform and empower families with both literacy curriculum and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) problem-solving strategies for continued learning opportunities at home.

The “Three Little Pigs” event was a great success with over 66 Garfield students and their families attending. All participants left the event with a fractured fairy tale of The Three Little Pigs plus the one-of-a-kind house that they designed to protect the pigs from the big, bad wolf.

The event was the first in a series of special evening Parent Academy Workshop sessions in which familiar fairy tale characters will go well beyond the pages of their books and provide learning opportunities for the students and their families.

During these Parent Academy Literacy/STEM events, families work together with their children sharing a read-aloud experience, using pictures to re-tell a story, creating a story element map, comparing and contrasting texts. The events close with the families designing a “happily ever after” solution for the story’s beloved, yet somewhat battered protagonists.

“We have two more evening events planned for this school year and are looking forward to sharing, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and Goldilocks and the Three Bears with our Garfield families,” Gorton stated.

“We sincerely believe that evenings like these embody the mission statement of the Illinois Reading Council by supporting those who promote and teach lifelong literacy,” she concluded.