Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pop Culture in Literacy

Many parents and teachers try to keep their children shielded from popular culture and the stories and characters that are prevalent in the media to try to protect them from negative signs and messages. Children often continue to gravitate toward these characters and topics even more when they are hidden from them. Incorporating popular culture and themes that children are interested in into the classroom is not always a bad thing. Using stories and movies that children are familiar with outside of school can be greatly beneficial because it will draw kids in to the lesson and what they are supposed to be practicing. If you give a child a book about Transformers or Disney princesses rather than some generic animal, they are often more likely to be interested in reading or doing math problems with those characters. Using things that children like to get them interested in learning is a great tool to use. Although, it is important to teach them the downfalls of their favorite popular media stories as well. Many characters and movies that are popular with children teach them to live up to stereotypes and negative messages. Teachers and parents must make sure that these ideas are addressed so that the children will recognize them and know to not follow them. As long as the children can see these downfalls in their favorite movies and TV shows, it can be greatly beneficial to use these topics in positive learning.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Partner Reading

Partner reading is a great idea in the classroom because it gives students practice reading aloud and to each other. It also gives them the opportunity to share stories and connections that they may have with the books. When children work together in pairs or in small groups they can use each other's ideas and help to take them further than they would have if they had only been working on their own. They can think together to answer questions about the stories and ask each other new questions to help them to critically think about the story more. Children may feel more free to discuss the story with a partner as opposed to a large group discussion as well, so this type of activity will allow the students to participate and learn through discussion when they may not normally have that chance or want to speak in front of the entire class.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Poetry is such an important aspect to bring to the classroom. Children can learn so much about literacy through reading and writing poetry because they are able to see how words can play and fit together to express different types of mood and emotions. Poetry should be introduced as early as possible so that children get the chance to become familiar with it. So many wonderful children's books are written using poetry. For example, Dr. Seuss books are a great way for children to start enjoy reading and learning about rhyming and putting words together in a fun and different way. Poetry is a way for children to express who they are and how they are feeling if regular writing might be a little too difficult to do. Poetry can bring out feelings and ideas that students might not otherwise be able to tap into.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Skills Mastery, Mastering Skills?

During the skills mastery discourse of writing correctly through practice, the teacher requires the student to complete their work in a very conventional and precise way. If the skill is not done in this particular way, it is considered wrong and is skilled and drilled until the student will perform the work in the "right" way. This view of teaching a skill is very black and white and is not necessarily the best way to teach something to a child. Learning how to correctly perform a skill can be done in a number of different ways. Some students are at different levels than other students and their learning styles may be different as well. Some children have opposing needs when it comes to learning and may not be able to come to the required conclusion when they are told to master a skill in only one way. I believe that teachers need to be more open when they are teaching children how to master a specific skill and they must be able to teach a child this skill in more than one precise way.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Comprehension is key

Teaching children how to read is a daunting task. Getting them to be able to recognize letters, know all of their sounds, what they create when they fit together and what those words mean as a whole is a lot to do. It's no wonder many children have a hard time learning how to read. The largest and most important part about learning how to read, however, is comprehension. Sure, if you can read the sounds and words that the letters make that's great, but if you do not understand what the writer is trying to say in their writing there really is no point in being able to read. Comprehending the messages in writing and books is one of the most influential parts of teaching how to read. There are a number of different strategies that can be implemented when teaching children how to read and using these strategies is key in ensuring comprehension in new readers. One of the most beneficial ideas to instill in children when they get lost and stop comprehending is asking them to try to remember when they stopped following the story or where they stopped comprehending. Getting children to realize when they are comprehending is important because later on they will be able to self correct when their mind starts to drift away from what they are reading.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Leveled Reading!

Many teachers rely on leveled books to correctly teach their students how to read and to keep them on the right track toward becoming a proficient reader. Although there are many good aspects of leveled books, there are also many negative traits as well. The original thought process behind the leveled books is to make reading easier for students and to make sure that the reading is at their particular level. However, reading only leveled books can hinder students' reading capabilities by not allowing them to try to read books that may be a bit harder than their teacher thinks would fit their reading level. This prevents children from being able to learn from their mistakes when trying to read more difficult books. Children can gain a lot from attempting to read books above their reading level. Also, placing children in a particular reading level can be a very subjective process because levels are not always the same for each child. Children have different needs in different areas and placing them all in the same group does not help each student individually to succeed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sounding it out or not?

I have always thought that if I did not know how to say a word that I should sound it out to find out what it is. According to some teachers, sounding words out is not a good idea. Some say that if a beginning reader sounds a word out they are only making the sounds of each letter individually instead of seeing the word as a whole. This will then hinder their reading because the child will not be able to figure out how the word is really supposed to be pronounced. During my field experience last week, the kindergarten teacher spent a majority of the day talking about "stretching out" the words that the children did not know. While I was observing the children reading individually, I noticed that many of them were trying to read books that were above their reading level and they spent a lot of time stretching out the words they did not know. Although this was helpful some of the time in decoding the words, I noticed that they would sound the word out letter by letter and although they made the noises of each letter they often did not put all of the sounds together to figure out the full word. They would simply move on through the book sounding out letter noises, but not reading the full words or comprehend anything that was happening in the story. I think that for beginning readers, sounding or stretching words out is not the best practice, but for more advanced readers, it can be a good tool to use.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Phonemic Awareness Is Not the Only Important Part of Literacy

Although phonemic awareness is extremely important in learning how to read and write and is also the most prevalent predictor of success in these areas, it is not the only thing to focus on when trying to help children in literacy. Teachers need to remember that children need a variety of different teaching practices and activities to help them learn literacy in the classroom. They also need concrete experiences to connect their learning to. Doing activities such as connecting literacy to writing words in shaving cream, rewriting well known songs and stories, drawing pictures along with writing and reading with older/younger paired reading buddies will help them to create memorable experiences. This way, the students will have an experience to connect their learning with and later on when they have to apply it to something new, they will be able to remember these activities and also remember the concepts that they were practicing during them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Literacy Dig at Kroger

This week I performed a part of a literacy dig at a grocery store in town. I attended Kroger at noon on a Sunday and took some videos of the types of things that would be found there that would be beneficial for students to learn about. I was actually able to find a lot of interesting things that I could apply to classroom learning and lots of great vocabulary words to use. I spent a lot of time video taping the fruits and vegetables section and I think that spending time talking about the words organic and processed would be great ideas for classroom plans in the future. I also spent a lot of time video taping the meats and deli sections because there were a lot of different types of foods there and many new eye catching foods for children to learn about and try. I think that attending a grocery store as a part of a literacy dig would be a great idea for any elementary classroom because it is something that children do on a regular basis with their parents and giving them the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective will really help students to create a strong third space connection between home and school.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Silent Literacy

            Many people believe that literacy only includes writing and reading with letters and words, however, literacy involves much more than that. Literacy is a means of expression and getting a message across to someone else. This can be done through reading and writing but also through drawing, singing, sculpture, painting and any other type of art medium. I think that art is definitely a part of literacy and literacy is also art. Art is a way for people to express themselves and get a message across to other people and that is exactly why people read, write and speak as well.
            Telling stories and expressing thoughts through art can be a great way to begin conversation and communication between children and teachers who do not speak the same language. Children can use this type of literacy to communicate and help in their journey of learning a new language. When children and teachers are able to communicate in this way it opens up a whole new world of story telling and expression. Children are sometimes able to tap into a part of their creativity that has a more difficult time coming through in writing or speaking. Art is a way of communicating literacy in a new and exciting way.