In the spotlight

Literacy learning that reflects culture

In 2006, The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network launched the President's Medal, a new award honouring excellence in research and innovation. At The Network's Annual General Meeting in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the inaugural prize was awarded to Dr. Janette Pelletier of the University of Toronto's Institute of Child Study.

Pelletier was awarded the President's Medal for her project Promoting Family Literacy in a Diverse Canadian Context, a researched-based program that sought to enhance home literacy activities and improve literacy scores for children entering school. The 3-year project began as a collaboration with Ontario's Region of Peel Children's Services, which had approached Pelletier to develop a family literacy program based on her earlier research model of parent involvement.

The ambitious project began with 24 schools in the first year and expanded to 72 schools in the Toronto region as well as Newfoundland by the third year. Pre- and post-testing of Pelletier's program showed measurable improvements in the children's literacy development as well as greater parent involvement in literacy activities at home following the conclusion of the 12-week program.

The project was also notable for the relationships that Pelletier developed with corporate and non-profit partners, such as Eastman Kodak and TVOntario, both of which contributed components to enhance the literacy program. Other partners assisted in providing enriched community programming, evaluating the impact of the programming, and conducting research. These included the Region of Peel Children's Services, the Peel-Halton-Dufferin Adult Learning Network, the Eastern School District of Newfoundland and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

The project's reach has been further broadened by Pelletier's presentations to scholarly and practitioner audiences in Toronto, Peel Region, Charlottetown and Edmonton. A DVD of the program is also being developed and will be available soon for distribution to schools, launching the next phase of Pelletier's research.

See feature article in Clarity magazine

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