Website for reading skills links G-C teachers with families

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Greenfield-Central teachers have videos online to help parents teach reading skills at home.

GREENFIELD – A new website from Greenfield-Central teachers is designed to empower parents to teach reading skills at home.

The Family Literacy Corner launched this fall as a way for teachers to give parents resources for reading, writing, rhyming and more.

“It’s not really meant to be a school-down website, but a community website and how we can — as a community — build a foundation in literacy,” said Mechelle Smith.

Smith, a fifth grade special education teacher with a dual license in general education, has worked more than 25 years at G-C schools. Smith was contacted by Robin LeClaire, director of student services, to create short videos focusing on helping families develop literacy skills.

Smith has been coordinating with several other teachers to create a website that connects the school with home.

“I think it begins with community; I think it’s important that the family and school work together because parents are the most important person in a child’s life, and our school community values our parents,” she said.

The new website has a few videos already. One teacher, for example, shares about how reading fluently can help children understand texts and gives tips on how to practice fluency at home.

Another video shares about rhyming and word families, and how those skills lead to reading and writing development.

So far, the website has been sent to parents through online newsletters. Smith is hoping to build both the content on the website and raise awareness.

Smith would like to add videos of families working together on reading and give additional tips that connect what G-C teachers are doing with parents or guardians at home.

“Reading crosses all boundaries – even if you’re doing a recipe, making cookies at home or banana bread, you can incorporate reading there. Like ‘Banana: what does banana start with?’” Smith said. “We have educators that have a lot of experience and have been professionally trained– they have insight and suggestions, quick tips for things they can do at home to help their kids.”

The team working on development of the website includes Lori Olin, Matt Davis, Corey Gilman, Amy Swartz, Amanda Leiber and Christine Sallee.

Leiber, a Maxwell Intermediate School teacher, gives parents quick tips for fluency on the website. She said there are resources for grades kindergarten to first who may be learning to read, and those in grades 3-6 who are “reading to learn.” Activities help families practice phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and more at home.

“I love that this website can give our G-C families short, easy and practical things that can be done at home to help improve reading skills for students,” she said via email. “My hope is that this website will help give families the resources to make reading practice fun.”

Amy Swartz, a GIS teacher, said the target audience is for families of children in grades kindergarten through sixth, but any student who may be struggling with reading could benefit.

“I am excited to offer this resource to families as a way to build and grow reading skills,” she said in an email. “I hope it will spark new, easy ideas of ways to work on skills at home.”

To view the website, visit sites.google.com/gcsc.k12.in.us/gcliteracycorner/home.