Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Supporting Writing Through Read-Aloud/Story Writing

     Many adults may think that teaching young children how to write does not have a large connection with reading and speaking, but they are all truly intertwined. When trying to support young writers, reading aloud to them is one of the best ways to help develop their skills. Giving children the opportunity to listen to a story being read aloud has a number of positives. They are able to really think about the story and discuss their opinions and ideas about it with the rest of the classroom. Teachers can incorporate a number of different types of discussions to stem off of read alouds as well. Story time can turn into meaningful talks about authors and illustrators, connections between different story lines, and life lessons that can accompany a story in a book. These types of skills will help children to become better writers because they will be able to think more critically about the types of stories that they are writing and to create a distinction between different levels and types of books/stories as well.
     Story writing is another activity that really allows children to get out of their writing comfort zone and create something new and original while also working on their literacy skills. There are many components to writing a good story and going through the process of creating a quality story in the classroom can assist children in critically looking at their own writing in the future. Helping children to create a strong story structure that includes solid characters and plot development will teach them to look for this in the stories that they read and give them the tools they need in order to critique someone elses story. Teaching children the various parts of stories such as setting, problems and solutions create more independent students and higher level writers. Giving students the task of describing all of the components of their stories is extremely helping in skill practice of literacy as well. It broadens their vocabulary and strengthens their imagination.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Children and Technology

Although children these days are completely surrounded by new and exciting forms of technology, they still need time to learn through nature and reality. So many children are stuck in front of a television all day instead of really interacting with the world around them and this is a travesty. Children need the time outdoors to explore animals, plants and the real world in itself. Sure, technology brings great things to learning and shows children things that they may not otherwise have the chance to see and experience, however, teachers and parents cannot solely rely on technology to teach their children everything they need to know. Creating a happy medium between real world teachings and using technology in the classroom is the best thing we can do for children. Technology should be used as a supplement in the classroom and at home instead of the main focus.
Using technology like Leap Pad and other educational video games are good sometimes because it gets children interested in learning and playing education games, but it should only be used sometimes. These games should be treated like any other video game in a child's life. They can be learning so much more through real life experiences with friends and family. Parents and teachers should be more focused on creating opportunities for children to visit new places and see new people rather than trying to recreate these experiences through technology.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sociodramatic Play and Literacy

Sociodramatic play is a very important part of literacy in a preschool classroom. Having the opportunity to use the imagination to create new and original stories is essential for a young person. In the sociodramatic play area in the classroom, children are able to use their creativity and imagination to be whoever they want to be and make new and exciting games for themselves and their friends. Many children fall into the trap of sticking to societal stereotypes and reenacting the same types of scenes in every classroom. Teachers should take the opportunity to show their classrooms the different types of play scenes that they may not be able to think of on their own. Taking children to different places such as a construction site or an art gallery will give the children new ideas to act out during play. Teachers should also give them different kinds of props for the play area to spark their interest and guide them in a new direction. Providing children with differing ideas and new vocabulary words to use during sociodramatic play can be a great help to them and will scaffold their thinking in a new direction!

Take Home Literature Packs

Take home literature packs are a great idea for students and families in the younger grades. These packs are full of activities for children and parents to do at home together! Completing these activities will allow children to learn and practice their literacy skills at home while getting the chance to spend more quality time with parents and siblings. These packs can be about anything from poetry to bed time to the rain. Each one that the teacher sends home with the student will focus on one topic and provide a booklist of books that associate with the given topic. Families are able to read these books together, either alone or aloud to one another and use them to discuss the topic afterwards. These packs are useful for all ages of children because the topics associate with things that they may be interested in. For teachers, they are an easy and non expensive way to get families more involved in the classroom!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Phonological Awareness in Play

Phonological awareness is when children are able to understand the structure of the sounds that letters and words make. This is an extremely important step in the process of learning how to read and children are exposed to it very often throughout the day. Children who are able to separate words and sounds into syllables and recognize that they have different sounds and parts are likely to be phonemically aware.
One of the best ways to work on phonological awareness with young children is by reading books that manipulate sounds and words. Using books that include a lot of onomatopoeia (which are words that make the sounds of a noise) or rhyming words allows children to really look at the break down of the letters and try to figure out what makes them sound the way that they do. Children can be asked to pick apart the words of a poem and find the ones that rhyme. They could then pick apart each rhyming word and try to discover which letters and sounds cause these certain words to rhyme. Phonological awareness is an essential part of moving forward for early readers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Kidwatching is an eye opening experience that anyone who wants to be a teacher must to. Kidwatching is learning about children by watching how they learn. Adults, especially teachers and parents, can learn so much from their children every day by simply observing them and looking to see the ways in which they teach themselves things. Because children are so new to the world, they have not yet learned the ways in which we adults have grown to do things. Everything becomes a way of simply going through the motions, and learning becomes one of these things as well. Children learn by exploring and discovering new things in all the ways that they can come up with in their imaginations. They are able to experience something new and teach themselves a new skill just by thinking about new ways to look at it.
By watching children learn and asking them to explain their thought processes, adults are able to see things from new perspectives and are also able to understand their children better. If we know more about how they think and process things, then the better we are at helping them to understand the world around them.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Meaning Orientation

When children are learning how to read, they must teach themselves how to decode the jumble of letters and spaces on the page. This means taking abstract things like sounds and letters and turning them into full words that mean something. Doing this successfully is not always an easy task. After learning how to read, decoding the sounds becomes automatic and does not require or produce any thought. The words are words and we, as adults, have made connections between that mix of letters and the thing that this word stands for. Children who are just learning how to read have not yet set this automatic response, so every new word that they encounter is a new puzzle that they must decode. Once they have mastered the decoding of this new word, they must learn the meaning behind it and remember it for next time.
Some children can pick up the decoding much easier than others because as they are going through the process, they realize that they must look for meaning behind the words. They know that they have to make sense of the letters that they are putting together to form a complete thought. When children can learn how to do this, learning to read will come much easier. For the children that do not understand this concept yet, reading is difficult because each letter and sound is a separate entity. Their decoding skills look at the sounds as different things and do not automatically put them together to form something completely new. Teaching children to decode correctly is an essential part of literacy learning.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Authentic and Inauthentic Texts

When children are learning how to read, the types of things that they are reading are very important in the process. When a child is genuinely interested in what they are trying to read about, they are much more likely to try harder to decode the text and try to make meaning from the words on the page. They are entranced by the story and the characters which allows for them to take more chances while trying to read. When children take more chances, they are more likely to figure things out on their own rather than having to ask an adult how to say every other word on the page. This is what some would consider an authentic text; A text that a child can read with purpose and interest. When children and adults read authentic text, they add life and emotion to the words that they are reading. It creates a very rich and strong experience when children are able to do this for the first time and they can develop a love for reading.

When children are learning how to read in school it is very common that they are taught with inauthentic texts. Stories and books that have no meaning or emotion behind the words. They are merely letters jumbled together meant to be decoded by children in hopes that they will soon understand the inner workings of reading and writing. When children are presented with these types of texts, they are uninterested and are more likely to find reading dull or difficult to learn. If we want to make reading fun and exciting for children, adults and teachers must remember to try to incorporate authentic text into the process as much as possible. This will make for much easier and enjoyable learning for everyone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Literacy at home vs. school

In chapter 5 of "I Already Know How To Read" Martens discusses the fact that literacy at home is much different than literacy that children work on at school. She talks about her daughter Sarah's experiences with reading and writing at home in contrast with what she works on in the classroom every day at school. Martens discovers that at home, literacy is a great and meaningful experience where Sarah is able to express herself in any way she wants, whereas literacy at school is very unexciting and meaningless. At home, children are able to express themselves through drawing or writing or any way that they can think of. There are no boundaries or rules for what they must accomplish or talk about. Children can use their imagination to create stories or words and take risks with their thinking through literacy. In many schools, like in this situation with Sarah, the students are tied down by many guidelines and specifics to where they are unable to express their own original ideas or meanings. Children are required to only write about certain things that may not even interest them. This lack of freedom in literacy at school can easily bring negative connotations to reading and writing for many children and later on stress that they do not enjoy it at all. This occurance does not necessarily happen because of poor teachers, but it often simply happens because of all of the standards that students and teachers are required to meet. Schooling should ideally be more open for children to express themselves so that they can learn to enjoy discovering new things rather than being forced to.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Third Space

      Making the transition from always being at home with family to spending a large part of the day at school can be tough for many children. It is a big change and requires a lot of adaptation to new people and different ways of doing things. Each child in the different case studies had some form of literacy learning at home which they had to reform when entering the classroom. This was hard for some of them, but not quite as much of a challenge for others. Blending home and school experiences introduces the idea of “the third space”, where the two different ways of learning must coincide and create a completely new learning environment. This idea is very important because it is one of the first times children must combine two different worlds and find a way to make them fit together. If children are unable to do this, it could lead to a number of different issues in the future where they must step out of one role and create a new appropriate one. This is a part of growing up and being able to lead a balanced life. Sports, school, social activities and jobs must all somehow fit together and taking lessons that we learn in each aspect and applying them to another one is essential. Learning how to do this during school is a valuable talent because it also pertains to making connections between different subjects which strengthens learning and retention. Being able to create a solid third space in the early years is a key goal to reach in order to produce a strong learning base.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Literacy and Self In the Early Years

Literacy is not only important for children to learn how to read and write as they get older, but it is also important for them to be able to learn about who they are and what they believe in. When children hear stories being read aloud or just made up along the way, they are relating the characters and the story lines to the happenings of their own lives. They are following what is happening in the story, but they are also using the events to learn about what different scenerios mean in their environment.
Children who are read to regularly at an early age, are more likely to enjoy reading later in life and are also more likely to have an easier time learning how to read. This shows the importance of exposing children to reading and storytelling even before they actually know how to read. Whenever a child hears a story or is encouraged to share a story of his or her own, they are learning who they are and what they believe in. They are shaping their values and beliefs through the process of analyzing the characters and events in the stories they hear. Reading and telling stories to children as they grow is vital for them to be able to learn and form their own opinions.