At the end of the night, third grade students were able to take a copy home of Harry Allard’s “Miss Nelson is Missing!” the book of focus for their activities at Literacy Night.
Reminder Publishing photo by Laura Mason

MONSON — Families waited in a line out the door for Granite Valley’s grade 1-3 Literacy Night on March 14. Each visited the various activities while students excitedly showed off their literacy skills and work.

This was Granite Valley’s second year hosting a Literacy Night for grades 1-3, Principal Joseph Trivisonno told Reminder Publishing. The event is part of the school’s new model to encourage greater family engagement based on the student’s grade level. Grades 1-3 participated in the Literacy Night, while grades 4-6 attended a STEAM Night in February. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. This model is a change from the previous Curriculum Expo, which was hosted for pre-kindergarten to fourth grade, Trivisonno said.

At the Literacy Night, each grade had specific activities based in the students’ homerooms. For first graders, students read Ezra Jack Keats’ “The Snowy Day” to their family before completing three related activities, first grade teacher Karon Paulhus said. These activities were scrambling the book’s title to find other words, placing images from the book in order and labeling an image from the book with proper terms.

Second grade students focused on sight words, or words that are spelled differently than they sound, second grade teacher Kathryn Royce said. Their activities included creating bookmarks and sight word bingo. Students also had the chance to show off the foreign country projects and sight word posters they completed in class.

For third grade, students moved between themed stations related to their book, Harry Allard’s “Miss Nelson is Missing!” third grade teacher Allison Carrington said. Stations were divided into small groups across the room. At one station, students had to match vocabulary words from the book to their correct definitions. At another station, students matched ideas from “Miss Nelson is Missing!” with Granite Valley’s core values: R.O.C.K.S. or respect, ownership, communication, kindness and scholarship. Students also got to take a copy of the grade’s book home at the end of the night, Carrington stated.

Since moving from the Curriculum Expo to the Literacy Night model, the administration has “seen real growth” in students’ literacy abilities, Trivisonno said. This year’s event welcomed about 50 families; a slight decline from last year, which saw around 180 people attend. Trivisonno suggested this may be connected to the 2024 event’s earlier timing in the school year.

He explained that the Literacy Night and STEAM Night pair were designed to involve more of the community in student events, as well as to focus on the areas of need for each grade. Trivisonno emphasized the importance of early grade literacy and stated that the events align with Granite Valley’s core values.

Other events that focus on family engagement are the school’s parent conferences and upcoming grade 1-6 R.O.C.K.S. Night in May. Granite Valley also uses a program called Appleseeds to monitor students’ literacy growth and provide targeted lessons, Trivisonno stated.

Granite Valley’s special education teachers also opened their doors to students for Literacy Night, allowing families to stop in and see students’ activities in a typical day, grade 1-3 special education teacher Melissa Stello told Reminder Publishing. Activities focused on learning sounds and vowels, she said.

In addition to each grade’s unique activities, the Literacy Night also included the annual Book Fair, which takes place in three sessions throughout a school year, Trivisonno said. At the fair, students can browse books as well as posters and other school supplies for purchase.

For $10, families could also purchase pizza for dinner in the cafeteria.
Another component of Literacy Night were the resource tables set up in Granite Valley’s hallways. Resources included pamphlets on summer reading from the school’s reading intervention team, information on Monson Parent Teacher Student Association’s upcoming teacher appreciation luncheon in May, and information about the Monson Free Library. A fourth table also encouraged families to write letters of encouragement to third grade students. These letters will be opened just before the students take the MCAS test for the first time, Trivisonno said.

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