The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

The Ginsberg Center engages with schools and teachers in a variety of ways through our K-12 literacy initiatives. This month, we spent some time with Ms. Ellis from Ann Arbor's Logan Elementary to hear more about her work and how UM students can get involved.

1. Tell us more about the work you are doing around literacy.

Literacy is defined as “the ability to read and write.”  Literacy actually encompasses all of the following skills: listening and speaking, phonics and spelling, writing, as well as reading with comprehension and fluency.  Literacy skills are integrated throughout the day into all subject areas, such as science, social studies and mathematics.   Because strong reading skills form the basis for learning in all subjects, it is important to identify those who struggle with reading as early as possible. Children who have been read to at home come to school with important early literacy skills. They are prepared to learn to read and write. Children who have not had many experiences listening to books read aloud or talking about books typically start school with limited early literacy skills.  These are the students that benefit most from additional adult support in the classroom setting.

2. How have UM students/staff supported your work around literacy?

I have had the good fortune of having several U of M students volunteering in my classroom this year.  These students are working with students who need support and/or clarification on assignments.  This may include helping with reading skills, phonics or writing skills.  These additional adults in the classroom are an important resource for the children.  It allows each child to have more one on one time with an adult that can help the student remain motivated and achieve success. 

Sometimes our volunteers have taken groups for reading when time restraints would otherwise have reduced the possibility.  Other times they are helping children complete assignments who may need some “hurdle help” with reading directions or completing activities.  Oftentimes just that additional adult spending a few extra minutes with a student is all that is needed for a child to continue working and achieving.

3. Why is literacy development important to our community?

The ability to read and write is the basis for all other education.  Literacy is necessary for an individual to understand information whether written or verbal. Literacy is essential so that all of our children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.