The Lake was placid, but a momentary commotion caused by a pair of loons who swooped down to breach the glass surface sent a wave of mirrored ripples across the lake. After the loons silent glide, they dove under the water for food, and all was calm again. Serenity.

Despite the distraction of the amazing view out the window, I can assure you that my attention was completely focused on the matter at hand – community literacy! It may have been the view, the beautiful spring weather, or perhaps the impending promise of an incredible school year to come, but excitement was in the air at CLiF’s 4th annual Community Literacy Conference at Lake Morey Resort on Wednesday (one might say, we were “twitterpated” with reading!).

Over seventy teachers, principals, librarians, and other past, present, and future CLiF Year of the Book (YOB) partners throughout New Hampshire and Vermont joined CLiF staff and board members, presenters, Susanna Olson and Stacy Raphael of the Flynn Center in Burlington, VT, and members of CLiF’s Board of Advisors, to share ideas about maximizing resources within communities in an effort to inspire a love of reading and writing amongst children. 

The first of many topics of conversation that morning was the life cycle of a YOB grant and what struggles and/or realizations happen along the way. In smaller groups, attendees chatted about scheduling logistics, creating advisory boards, engaging teachers, organizing book giveaways, parent nights, and what CLiF events drew the most excitement that their schools.

While we at CLiF hope to become regarded as a valued resource for all of our grant recipients, we realize that the experts are the ones working directly on the ground with children on a daily basis. For this reason, we asked participants to share with one another about what has worked or not, to pick each other’s brains, and in doing so hopefully walk away with perhaps a new perspective, or an idea to put into use in their own classrooms or schools.

In the afternoon, the tables turned as educators were asked to become the students and be led through a series of exercises by visiting artist Susanna Olson of the Flynn Center. Dramatic Activities focused around Audrey Wood’s “King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub” included running commentary, open-ended inquiry, and echo expansion/elaboration. While it took some time for participants to warm up, it wasn’t long before you could hear shouts and declarations echoing through the halls as the power of using drama to extend and expand on the reading experience was realized. The take away was to encourage creative self-expression, reinforce vocabulary acquisition, and connect literacy learning to embodied cognition through the integration of gestures and movement. But most importantly – to have FUN!

Here is some of the feedback received from participants:

“Fantastic! You opened my eyes to a new way of teaching my students! They’ll be moving tomorrow, for sure!” -Melissa Ryan, Ludlow Elementary School

“Soooo helpful–a great way to use universal design and meet all learners’ needs.” – Stephanie Sherman, Lothrop Elementary

“It was great to experience all of these different ways to dig into one book–so rich!” – Kristin Urie, Albany Community School

Thank you to all who joined us yesterday and inspired us with your ideas!

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CLiF has served over 350,000 children since 1998.

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