The International Reading Association’s “Invent Your Future” International Literacy Day theme inspired many teachers around the world to create projects to motivate their students to read and to dream. We are excited to announce the three winners of the “Invent Your Future” contest, who will receive Sony Xperia tablets.
Second Grade Scholars Say “Reading Rocks”
When Hope Valley Elementary School teacher Elisha Cliette discussed the many places and adventures literacy could lead her “second grade scholars,” International Literacy Day morphed into International Literacy Week. The events in this North Carolina school included “Invent Your Future Day,” where students dressed up to show what career they wanted to have when they grew up and “Get Lost in a Book Day,” where students dressed up as a character in one of their favorite books. Then they held “Read to Me Day,” where their principal and assistant principal read aloud to them followed by “Partner Reading Day,” where the students were assigned different partners to read with throughout the day. They finished the week with a “Reading Rocks, Dance Party!” Cliette played some of their favorite songs, and they danced along with their favorite book in hand!
Marching on Washington to Celebrate Literacy
In September 2013, The Sheridan School’s third year celebrating International Literacy Day, the sixth grade students collaborated with teachers Noel Sheppard and Susie Baker-Lapp (sixth grade teachers), Emilie Greene and Ilva Olinto (art teachers), and Vicki Masson (world language teacher) to create an assembly based on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The students in this Washington, DC school reenacted the march, focusing on the importance of literacy for the future, 21st century literacies, and literacy is a tool to help us invent our own futures.
Students created march placards and chants to inspire the marchers, and speakers made clear the meaning of literacy. Also, each sixth grade student was responsible for a “family-style” group of students from across the school. The silhouette of a kindergarten student was traced around on black paper, and then each group brainstormed all the ways in which literacy facilitates inventing the future—all the careers and qualities, benefits and advantages of a future informed by literacy. Approximately 180 children worked in 26 groups, each led by a sixth grade student, and then shared their ideas at the end of the assembly. The visions were many and varied, including “go to Belgium,” “be a dermatologist,” “become a doctor,” “wisdom,” “hope,” “teacher,” “scientist,” “build buildings,” “Lego creator,” “make skateboards,” and “be an author.” After the presentations, the silhouettes were arranged on a wall of the lunch room, with samples of the placards above, as a reminder of the assembly and as a protest installation.
Breaking News in Massachusetts
To celebrate International Literacy Day at Horace Mann Middle School in Franklin, Massachussetts, Reading Specialist Erin O’Leary and 8th Grade ELA teacher Mary Cotillo invited students to invent their future by pondering, envisioning, and writing headlines featuring their future accomplishments.
They began by researching headlines from history and sharing positive examples with their students. They introduced the idea to students on the morning video news on the Friday before International Literacy Day on September 9. Cotillo reminded students of the project via Instagram and offered extra credit.
At lunch on Friday the teachers placed models and headline writing templates on the tables (so teachers didn’t have to pass out anything). Due date flyers posted on the cafeteria doors were coupled with strategically placed extra templates as students exited the building, and the teachers decorated the area around the collection boxes in the lobby with balloons and streamers. When only a few headlines trickled in, they circulated among tables shouting, "Write your headlines! Grab a friend! I have extras! I have markers! GO! GO! GO!!"
By the end of the day, they had about seventy headlines which they proudly displayed in the HMMS lobby. Other teachers in their building put their own spin on the idea of helping students invent their futures. One eighth grade social studies teacher showed an inspirational YouTube video about high school students who are changing the world with their ideas. A seventh-grade social studies teacher read a UN article talking about literacy's role in preventing poverty. His seventh grade counterpart and the administrators tweeting their headlines.
To learn more about International Literacy Day or to view our event kit with lesson and activity ideas, visit our International Literacy Day webpage.
Sara Long is an editor/content manager at the International Reading Association.