The week is finally over. It was very busy for me, however it wasn’t nearly as stressful as I had anticipated. The purpose of National Literacy and Numeracy Week (NLNW) is to promote the fundamental skills of education in the community. There was a time when everyone valued the privilege of schooling. Everyone knew that if you learned nothing else at school, you had to learn to read, write and work with numbers. These days, it seems as though some people don’t get it.
If you do any professional reading, online or otherwise, you probably don’t need convincing. You probably know that reading is a vital skill that is the cornerstone of success in primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as the workplace and indeed everyday adult life. The other piece of the puzzle, which is no less important, is the ability to understand numbers and apply mathematical principles to real world situations. That sounds like a bit of a ‘fussy’ definition but put simply: literacy and numeracy skills are fundamental to functioning in modern society. Despite the great convenience of technology, these tools are less useful if you can’t read.
Therefore, the focus of NLNW at my school is: fundamental skills are important and the best way to enhance our current skill level is to enjoy what we have and have fun with words and numbers. Our aim is to have at least one event/ activity for each day of the week. This makes it very busy, but it also provides opportunity for everyone to participate. Here is a list of the activities that we organised and a short explanation of our process.
Staff Briefing: I reminded everyone at our Staff Briefing that it was NLNW and asked everyone to stay tuned to staff emails and school announcements for information about activities. I also asked for their support and reminded them to promote activities when talking with the students.
School Announcements: Literacy and Numeracy Jokes introduced information about NLNW, Pocket Poems and other activities that would occur during the week.
Pocket Poems: “Homeroom” teachers were provided with a Pocket Poem lesson to support their students in writing their own poems. I also sent a link to teachers for use during the pocket poem lesson. http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/poetry_engine.htm
School Announcements: More jokes were entered in the school announcements and reminded students that it was NLNW and encouraged everyone to jump on Mathletics and participate in challenge activities competing with students across the globe.
Facebook: I posted the first stanza of a progressive poem and challenged the school’s Facebook fans to continue it by adding a rhyming couplet to the comments. The poem started out with the topic of NLNW and our awesome school. 48 hours and approximately 30 comments later the poem topics included our house teams, fires, violence, Shakespeare, Dr Seuss, the awesomeness of Ms Hughes (that’s me) and our deputy principal. Students, Staff and Parents were among the contributors.
Staff Email: a short and sweet email was sent out to all staff reminding them of the purpose for NLNW and the Reading Event for Friday. I also inserted a few jokes and word play cartoons and pictures for everyone’s enjoyment. It was Parent/ Teacher Interview Night, so we all needed a lift!
School Announcements: Examples from the Spelling List to be used at the Spelling Bee were published and Homeroom classes had a go at spelling them in class. The Spelling Bee was advertised for Thursday.
Facebook: “Make 15” challenge was launched. I challenged the Facebook fans to find as many ways as possible to ‘make 15’. Ideas started with simple number sentences like 10+5 and evolved into trigonometry equations. Some flexible thinkers described the number of players in a rugby team (apparently there are 15) and the average age of our year 10 cohort.
School Announcements: The Spelling Bee and Friday Reading Mob was advertised.
Library: Top 15 Lists were created and displayed in the Library. Our teacher/librarian compiled lists of the 15 most popular movies, top 15 pop songs, top 15 books of all time and 15 most borrowed authors from the school library.
Junior Spelling Bee: Our year 8 and 9 students were invited to nominate and compete in the Spelling Bee. One teacher and one year 12 student also participated and both were knocked out in the early rounds! We used words from the 200 most commonly misspelled words and it was surprising to me which ones seemed to be the most difficult for participants. All participants were awarded house points and winners received itunes vouchers. Runners-up were awarded tuckshop vouchers.
School Announcements: more jokes introduced a thank you to all staff and students for participating in NLNW activities and everyone was invited to show up at the courtyard (a large meeting area at our school) at lunchtime.
Reading Mob: Staff and Students were invited (few took up the offer) to spend their lunch break reading in the school courtyard. I brought magazines, books and newspapers to the courtyard for those who didn’t have anything to read. A few teachers used their e-readers or phones, while others bought their own books to read. I also made some posters with puns, pictures, jokes and quotes about reading and maths. The posters were stuck along the walkways leading to the courtyard.
As you can see, it was a very busy week! I had a great team working with me this year which made it manageable and even a bit fun. There are some activities that we will certainly do again next year and others that we won’t repeat. The most important thing about these events is getting the word out that they are happening. There are more than 1400 students at our school and approximately 100 teachers. There are additional support staff in the school such as education assistants, administration assistants, cleaners and volunteers who are all invited to participate in the week. That is a lot of people reach. It is also imperative that you have funding for prizes and support from administration. That is, a deputy principal or even the principal, heads of department and leading teachers need to be involved in order to get the word out and to lend credence to the events. In a school as big as ours, there are several events happening at the same time and this can cause quite a lot of disruption if the communication between organisers isn’t clear.
I hope you enjoyed your NLNW! The next big event is “The Reading Hour” which is actually a weekend event. If you want more information about that, visit http://www.love2read.org.au/.