Posters and wallpapers decorated the hallways advocating for Literacy Day on March 12th. Teachers and students have been preparing for this day to come, and now spectators are visiting classrooms and watching students and teacher engage with each in academic activities. Many teachers stray from their normal style of teaching and provide activities for the students to utilize teamwork and discussion. Students share and evaluate their assignments while other teachers complete their own critiquing worksheets to figure out better ways to implement lesson styles their coworkers were using for their own classes. From this experience, teachers are learning how to adapt changes into their classrooms to interpret new strategies for tying in new values of academic discourse. Through Literacy Day, the school is evolving classrooms by investigating the potential of integrating better communication and discussion between students and teachers; pushing towards a future of more lively discussion and learning.
Literacy Day was created in order to encourage academic discourse within a classroom. Throughout the day, district personnel observed classrooms and how they engaged in academic discourse. Teachers are creating specialized lesson plans that will improve communication and provide a relevant and engaging learning environment.
We believe literacy is the cornerstone of all learning in all content areas; therefore, a focus on literacy is a moral imperative for all teachers, no matter grade level or content focus.”
— Dawn Phipps, Forsyth County Director of High School Education and Learning
This is part of the five year initiative to develop the level of learning within Forsyth County. The county has developed a new process of learning that will adapt to the changes seen within the student body in order to improve the students’ outlook on education. To further develop reading in our society, the school has created student prizes. Teachers have been given prizes for students who are seen reading books outside of class. This academic discourse enables students and teachers to work together on presentations and peer discussions. Various activities such as critical thinking, accountability, and communication marked Literacy Day at South.
Lab Partners at work. In science classes, labs were conducted in order to encourage students to use critical thinking and discuss their thoughts with partners. Students in this lab studied acids and bases, and compared and contrasted their results with peers.
Students becoming the teachers. In this class, students speak to their peers. Groups of students created a lesson and review quiz for the rest of their class. This involved the entire class in a way that connected students through academic discourse.
Ms. McGray, an AP Government teacher, says, “I think it has helped, especially with AP Gov, because they got to share their opinions and see how the Supreme Court impacts their daily lives. They had more relevant conversations, especially with the NetRef discussion. With Honors World, we expanded more of what they received in class and also seeing historical perspectives about World War 1.”
Junior Rowen Aragon agreed, “We participated in a new Socratic seminar format that we designed as a class. It was great; we could have easily talked for 2 hours about The Things They Carried and whether or not the draft is justified. The discussion was great to the point where I annoyed my next period talking about the draft.”
However, some students felt it interrupted the flow of class and wasn’t related to their subject. Most of the time, the reactions were positive.
In my classroom, a focus on literacy happens regularly. Literacy Day or not, academic discourse in an integral aspect of my science instruction five days a week.”
— Kelsey Parent
Swapping books. Mr. and Mrs. McIlvan “shop” at the school’s book swap cart. Swap Mobile’s introduction to South Forsyth High School gives students an opportunity to find new stories to enjoy while also being able to donate old books they once loved, but no longer read. The Swap Mobile provides students with opportunities to expand their knowledge on reading by getting books for free. The cycle of giving and taking allows so many people to enjoy a book someone might not have been able to afford, or someone a chance to clean out their storage.
Literature lover. In the SFHS dining hall, Sharon Forks Library set up rows of popular books for students to look over, as well as a station to sign up for a free library card. Invited to represent Forsyth County Libraries, Page James joined SFHS during Literacy Day – a day devoted to inspiring students to become interested in reading.
INTERVIEW WITH SHARON FORKS LIBRARIAN, PAGE JAMES
Q: What does the Sharon Forks Library hope to accomplish here today?
A: We were invited to come and represent Sharon Forks, and we wanted to encourage teens to sign up for a library card. We are also giving out information about tutor.com, which is our online tutoring service. It is available for teenagers and younger kids, and you just need a library card. You can become in contact with tutors that specialize in whatever subject it is. We think it’s one of our really good services we supply for patrons of the library. We are hoping people sign up for the library card so they can also use tutor.com We want to promote literacy. As a library, that’s what we are about.
Q: What advice would you give to students who may not be open to reading more books?
A: I would try to find something that would interest the student, because you can tie in almost anything into a book. You can find a book for everything you are interested in.
Q: How can reading more books improve the lifestyle of students?
A: I think reading is relaxing. It’s a way to escape everything you have to deal in high school and life in general.
Through this single day at South, students are able to see the importance of literacy and understand the importance of meaningful academic discourse.