Engaging Literacy for Informal Learning Environments

Hands-on Strategies to Incorporate Literacy Outside of School


We are excited about your interest in taking this online course for After School Professionals. Below you will find a brief course description and video, information about your instructor, and additional course information. We estimate that this course will take 3 hours to complete. Once you have completed it, you may request the 3 hours towards your teacher licensure re-certification.

We know you will find this course valuable and enjoyable. If you have any questions please email us at courses@ssww.com.

Do you believe that literacy development should be fun?

Would your children be more engaged if literacy was incorporated into their favorite existing activities rather than trying an entirely new curriculum or traditional reading and writing activities that may not work?

Experienced educators and researchers agree that a rich literacy approach focuses on fun, engaging activities children want to participate in.
Effective literacy development goes well beyond traditional independent reading and writing time to include a mix of literacy elements like speaking and listening. For the last 7 years we've led a literacy initiative at 27 after school and summer programs. This training is focused on literacy integration across all types of after school activities, and not just specifically physical education. So whether you're looking for a few literacy activities or to design your entire program's focus this course will meet your needs.

In this 4 hour course we make literacy easy by showing you creative ways to make literacy fun outside of traditional literacy environments.
We explore the aspects of literacy, what makes up oral language, how to modify and design curriculum, and other relevant topics. Best of all, you hear from both trainers and real programs that are in our literacy program. This course focuses on strategies for children in kindergarten through 5th grade.

Course Details:

Course Goals:

  1. Understand the importance of oral language to literacy development. Apply the key aspects of oral languages (Sounds, syntax, word parts, social context, and vocabulary).
  2. Integrate literacy in existing activities at the educators program. Plan and apply intentional literacy elements into children’s favorite activities.
  3. Modify an existing literacy lesson plan to fit educator’s program.
  4. Create effective literacy displays, directed towards a specific objective such as family engagement or child motivation.

Course Description:

The course is divided into 6 areas:

Introduction to literacy and oral language: Adopting a broad definition of literacy and the key aspects of oral language, based on research done by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Take a focus on a single literacy aspect at your program.

Social Context of Literacy and Vocabulary: Explore the difference between language types; how does Academic Language vary from the language children use in more informal contexts? Establish a nuanced understanding of vocabulary words that encourages a deep understanding of fewer words rather than a shallow understanding of many words.

A Literacy Starting Point at Your Program: Determining how ‘much’ literacy to start at with your program. Distinguish between passive and active literacy. Learn from actual after school programs on their approach to literacy integration. Work to establish your literacy focus with guided questions.

Visual Displays and Family Engagement: Review common elements of effective literacy displays with examples. Create a plan for a literacy display at your program.

Creating a Literacy Culture: Moving beyond individual literacy activities and creating a literacy culture. Our brains love stories and almost every activity can include a literacy element through a story frame.

The Power of the Read Aloud: The read aloud is the most powerful and engaging literacy vehicle for younger children. Hear from award winning educators and programs on their read aloud strategies. See how a program uses children’s ideas to expand a read aloud activity into so much more.

Need to get your Professional Development Credits approved by administration? Download the course description to provide them here.

Your Instructor

Allison Wootan
Allison Wootan

Allison Wootan is the Director of Professional Development at BOSTnet, a former Boys & Girls Club Site Director, and has a degree in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University. She trains hundreds of educators each year in areas including behavior, engagement, and literacy.

Check out Frequently Asked Questions Here!

(You will be prompted to enroll for free in the S&S Online School)

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