PBS Utah’s Family Literacy Nights and Educator Workshops

Academic Enrichment Grant 2021-2022 Project Summary

Pama Bermudez

PBS Utah • Salt Lake City, UT

Ready To Learn (RTL) uses PBS children’s television programs as a springboard to bolster at-home learning. For over two decades, PBS Utah has provided direct early learning programs to Utah’s children and their families under the station’s RTL initiative. RTL provides resources and services to 50,000+ parents, teachers, and caregivers annually. Partnering organizations in our work include Granite School District Title I elementary schools, United Way programs, and Head Start preschools. RTL’s signature portfolio program, Family Nights, reaches 17,000+ low-income children and their families.

Until recently, this program operated as an afterschool open-house event. Families enjoyed dinner, engaged in hands-on learning activities, and took home a book and resources to encourage continued learning in the home. The pandemic paused in-person activities in March of 2020. In lieu of in-person events, the station distributed At-Home Family Night educational take-home kits (books, a family educational game, literacy BINGO, and resources for parents/caregivers). 12,000+ kits were distributed through partnering Title I schools. PBS Utah did not receive the data impact of these kits as families did not complete the included survey. To ensure PBS Utah meets the needs of the schools, families, and station’s mission, we are redesigning the Family Night model. The requested grant will support a three-year pilot of this redesign.

New Family Literacy Night Model PBS Utah will focus on the enhanced literacy development of 2nd graders at partnering schools. PBS Utah will create, implement, and revise as necessary a plan to bring critical literacy to 2nd-grade educators, students, and families through its Family Night network. The station is interested in a redesign of a high-impact program that allows for statewide distribution. Kristi Jones, Ph.D., School of Education, Westminster College will be working in partnership with the station. Jones’ expertise is in Cultural Foundations of Education with a focus on Critical Literacy. Utilizing her critical literacy research, PBS Utah will redesign the Family Night model to incorporate critical literacy sessions. Family Literacy Nights invite 2nd graders and their families to participate in a program that includes the reading of a selected book, directed critical literacy discussions, a coordinating themed activity, and a family dinner.

Parents participating in the project will be provided with guides/resources on leading critical literacy discussions to continue engaged learning in the home. For a virtual option, we will assemble and distribute Family Literacy Nights kits to participating families in advance and include a book, discussion questions, a game/activity for the family to play, and a voucher for a family dinner.

PBS Utah plans on rolling out this program in five schools the first year and scale each year, adding additional partnering schools into its portfolio. Educator Workshops PBS Utah hosts workshops with educators throughout Utah on implementation and resources available from the vast library of PBS LearningMedia and PBS Utah. The station will be designing workshops with educators on the implementation of the critical literacy sessions in the classroom as well as the rollout to student families.

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