Connecting a Community through a Family Literacy Project and Virtual Writing Collaboration: University Students Facilitate Access to Literature during the Pandemic
The importance of accessing and sharing children’s literature took on new meaning as educators pivoted to remote and online learning models over the course of the past school year. In light of the pandemic, College of Education pre-service educators enrolled in a Fall 2020 Language and Literacy Development course (which is usually scheduled to meet face-to-face twice a week) was re-structured as hybrid, where a group of students were scheduled to meet partially face-to-face and partially online on a weekly basis. I planned to adapt my family literacy project collaboration with a local community center, an academic service learning assignment that I incorporate each semester as part of the course. A second community literacy project embedded in the course involved reading and discussing Look both ways: A tale told in ten blocks (Reynolds, 2019), short stories that detail experiences of middle school characters on their walk home from school. My original plan was for both middle school students and pre-service educators to draft personal place-based writing short stories- inspired by the mentor text- and participate in writing conferences. Instead, Zoom sessions were conducted in which both sets of students virtually conferenced about their writing pieces when schedules allowed. In this manner, authentic conversations about writing were being cultivated through a virtual approach.
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