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.