Riverside Regional Elementary School within the Central Québec School Board (CQSB) celebrates Literacy Week annually in March with innovative activities and contests that promote reading and writing. Here’s how a 2015 archeology-based project, funded by ALDI, engaged students, staff, and the community in a hands-on learning experience sandwiched between reading and writing activities.
“The main purpose of Literacy Week is to passionately engage students in literacy,” says Peggy Williams, Resource Teacher spearheading the archeology project. “Even students who normally avoid as much as possible any activity involving reading and writing, usually become actively immersed in the different literacy activities during Literacy Week.”
Partnering with the Archaeology Department at the University of Québec at Chicoutimi, the Riverside Regional Elementary School (RRES) project theme was “Dig into Good Books.”
With the involvement of the Archaeology students, the level of positive engagement of our students was incredible.
The resource book for the students in Cycles 2 and 3 was Let’s Read and Find Out Science: Archaeologists Dig for Clues written by Kate Duke, which was shared with the students ahead of time.
Archaeology students Vanessa Morin and Jean-Paul Girard simulated a dig for all classes on the Thursday and Friday prior to the start of Literacy Week. They showed the students actual artifacts and explained the different strata in which the artifacts are typically found.
Literacy Week Archeological Digs
During Literacy Week, the Kindergarten and Cycle 1 students participated in a simulated dig in the form of a cake dig. The ‘artifacts’ found were ‘documented’ on a pre-prepared diagram. These artifacts were in fact coloured candies, and the students did get to eat the artifacts and the cake afterward.
Cycle 2 students participated in shoe box digs where they had to classify the artifacts they found, place them into specimen bags, and document their findings. They then had to research to determine the approximate age of each of the three strata in the shoe box.
“During the simulations, even the students who are never able to stay focused for more than three minutes were totally captivated during the entire presentation,” says Peggy Williams.
Students who rarely ‘shine’ during academic activities were asking and appropriately responding to high-level questions.
Literacy Week Writing Contest
The scenario provided for the writing contest was as follows: It is the year 3015. A group of archeologists are digging in the Saguenay. They uncover three objects grouped together: an iPod, a cake decorating kit, and a hockey puck. (The objects varied according to grade level.)
“It’s wonderful to see how many students with learning difficulties are totally engaged in the Literacy Week activities.”
Using the literary genre of realistic fiction, the students wrote the story of how the three items had come to be together back in 2015.
“Literacy Week activities are not just about reading and writing,” says Jill Robinson, Coordinator of Educational Services for the Central Québec School Board. “An activity like the RRES ‘Dig into Good Books’ project gives the students something exciting and engaging to talk about.”
“The number of students who came to me during the following week,” says Peggy Williams, “to say thank you and express how much they enjoyed Literacy Week was astounding.”
In an environment where they usually don’t feel good about themselves, these kids actually felt good.
What is Literacy Week at Riverside Regional Elementary School?
The RRES has been doing “Literacy Week” for about eight years, led by a Literacy Committee and involving the entire school and the community. Activities always include contests, spelling bees, etc., and winners are awarded gift certificates to purchase books at the Scholastic Book Fair that takes place after the main activities. About $300 worth of gift certificates are handed out each year.
Scholastic provides a wide range of English titles, and the school earns a share of the book sales. There are no English bookstores in the region, but some shops do sell a limited selection of English books. The community welcomes this annual opportunity to buy great books during Literacy Week.
Literacy Week 2016:
An abbreviated Literacy Week will be held this year from March 29 to April 1. The Book Fair will follow during the week of April 4.
For more information about the Book Fair, contact Peggy Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone during school hours: 418 548 8296.
Click here to visit the Riverside Regional Elementary School.