Monday, May 28, 2012

Opening Doors to Literacy in New York City Public Libraries

Last fall I conducted a literacy training for literacy and English as a Second Language teachers and tutors in the Bronx. (See my post about it here.) I recently returned to New York City where I helped conduct a follow-up literacy training, this time for five of the previous attendees who supervise the literacy teachers and tutors throughout the city at New York City Public Libraries. The purpose of this training was to train the supervisors on how to become certified Reading Horizons trainers. The training was held at the Bronx Library Center (down the street from one of Edgar Allen Poe's homes). This three-day training consisted of method review, explicit strategy instruction in decoding and spelling skills, as well as instruction on conducting consistent, teacher-directed practice. The attendees also had an opportunity to participate in peer coaching as they each took a turn teaching a skill and receiving feedback from the group. I am impressed with these individuals' competence, as well as their passion and drive to help teach literacy and English to speakers of other languages.

Aside from the training itself, I witnessed something magical going on within the walls of this library. Each day as I walked out of the training, I saw kids from the Bronx gathered around computers after school. I saw parents and children checking out books together. I saw middle school and high school kids meeting at the library to collaborate. I saw adults standing next to book shelves, books open and eyes scanning the pages, taking in the words like they were a refreshing drink of water. Libraries are magical places. I am grateful to be able to participate (in a very small way) in the amazing literacy programs offered throughout New York City. I am aware that there are several other libraries throughout the country doing similar things, whose efforts I applaud, as well. Libraries are magical places. They open the doors to education like no other.

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