Leading the Way on Literacy

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Right before the beginning of the school year, I had a chance to meet with a small group of teachers gathered at Kate Sullivan Elementary School in Tallahassee for a workshop on effective classroom instruction. After an engaging conversation with the participants, I noticed an intriguing question written on the facilitator’s flip chart: “What are the learning goals of the unit?” The question was the first step in encouraging attendees to start thinking about what they wanted their students to achieve and then working backwards to determine what objectives would accomplish their goals.

We recently applied this concept at the department in anticipation of Florida’s 2015 Celebrate Literacy Week – January 26 – 30. During this special week, thousands of schools from across the state participate in activities that promote and encourage daily reading. I shared with our team that one of my goals for this annual celebration is to set a great example for Florida’s schools, districts and other state agencies by participating in literacy-building activities throughout the month of January.

To accomplish our goal, we’ve came up with a few fun activities any organization can implement to cultivate literacy skills both inside the classroom and the workplace.

FMy Today's Readers are Tomorrow's Leaders Door Posteravorite Book Door Posters – This a great way to demonstrate your passion for reading while also sharing book suggestions with your colleagues. You may be surprised to find which of your co-workers enjoy the same books as you. You can download a copy of the poster we created here.

Book Drive –We encouraged department staff to bring in new and gently used young adult/children’s books to donation boxes located throughout our building.

Reading Challenge – One of the key events of each Celebrate Literacy Week is the Million Minute Marathon, where more than 1.2 million students take time out of their day to read. To mirror the marathon’s success, we are hosting our own reading competition, where each employee will log the number of pages they read each week.

Regardless of your job, literacy is critical to lifelong success, and I believe that children and adults need to make reading a part of their everyday routine. Let us know how your families, classrooms and offices are making literacy a priority by emailing us at CommunicationsOffice@fldoe.org.

You can also add your voice to our literacy conversation, by using the 2015 Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! hashtag #CLW2015.

About the author: Commissioner Pam Stewart leads the Florida Department of Education, which supports Florida’s Pre-K-12 education system, serving more than 2.7 million students and 192,000 educators. She is a former teacher, principal and deputy superintendent.

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