Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bonding, Connecting, and Developing Through Text and Shows

    Thank you guardians. You have probably already gotten a thank you note from your child. (If you have not I implore that you ask you child about it before you continue reading this message.)
    The reason why I am thankful started when we were about to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory during circle time. I simply asked if anyone knew of this book and one student stood up and said that not only had he read the book, he and his father had adopted the book and original movie as their book/movie. He talked about how the both of them had watched and read “Charlie” ever since my student could remember. The both of them “play Willy Wonka” a lot. In fact we also found out that my student’s first memory of writing was of him writing and sending a letter to Willy Wonka asking if he and his dad could go to the factory. I can’t tell you parents how proud I was to hear that and I asked if there were any other students who had a family movie or had written a letter before. The answers and stories I got were amazing.
    These accounts have helped my students more than most can imagine. First of all by having a family book, movie, TV show, ect..  from early on, children learn how to make a connection and communicate before they even know the meaning of the words. They make a connection with people (ex. father and son having a commonality  due to a book).They also communicate by having a common interest as well. Connecting and communicating are an integral part of developing literacy. The reader has to connect with the characters and understand the communication going on in the story. The family interactions with books and media give children a head start into understanding literacy. Hearing about writing letters at an early age is just as beneficial. By having the guardians allow their young children to attempt to write, the children have a advantage in developing literacy, an excitement to practice writing any way they can, and the will to try/fail when it comes to forming words. My advice to guardians is to allow your children (who are trying to write) to mess up. Try to not correct them early on when writing unless they ask you for help. Mistakes are all right at this age. In fact I do not correct the spelling in my students journals because the point of journals is to experiment with expressing themselves on paper. They will learn how to spell correctly through time. Also encourage free writing at home  as early as possible.
    Lastly I want to encourage the guardians to keeping bonding and encouraging their children to read/write.  Thank You.

References: - i already know how to read by Prisca Martens (This is a very good book that includes an unfortunate example of what can happen if teachers do not encourage and appreciate free writing in chapter 5.)
- Children’s Language by Judith Wells Lindfors (This is very good as well.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recognizable Print

    I have got a question for parents. What dose the McDonald's double arches, the leprechaun from Lucky Charms, a Wii controller, and a stop light have in common? They were not only recognized by the students, but they were also elaborated upon. This afternoon in class I sat with my students in small groups, held up pictures of these items, and asked what they were. What I got were great descriptions ranging from "That M stands for hamburgers and Ronald McDonald" to "That guy that has cereal with a bunch of marshmallows in it and if you catch him you get a lot of that stuff" to more.
    Some of you might be wondering not only why I did this activity, but also why I was so glad to hear their responses. The reason is that by explaining what these things are I can see that the students are forming connections and gaining recognition with these symbols. These two tools are an instrumental part of literacy. I want them to form connections and recognize what they need. Seeing symbols or environmental print like these prepare them for using these tools with literature.
    In four days we will have an Environmental Print Day where we set up stations that will be used for recognition and explanation. What I would like the parents to do (I will be sending reminders home as well) is to:

  1. have you and your child practice pointing out these symbols throughout the day (I sent home a sheet with a description and examples of environmental print)
  2. bring in two examples of environmental print (one food related only) and
  3. have the child pick out his or her favorite environmental print design.
As always please feel free to contact me whenever you want.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pop Culture and Media Can be Beneficial

            Hello parents and students. I was in a daycare recently talking to a friend of mine when I noticed something. One of her 3 year olds was drawing himself as a super hero. The thing that caught my eye was above his drawing were the words "Super [child's names]". I couldn't help but ask my friend about the child knowing how to spell that word. She told me that he always watches a show with "super" in the title. She went on to say that although this boy is relatively shy and quiet, he will usually open up to talk about this show.
            This got me thinking about how instrumental the media can be. Before I go on I do have to say that I do not feel everything in the media is suited for students. That being said there are many benefits. Not only did the young boy add meaning to a word that he probably can not sound out yet, but he also gained the confidence to express himself through this medium because of this show. Expression is important in my class and I find that a lot of students are able to express thoughts about games or TV easier than other things. I use this to get my students to start thinking critically. For example, I might ask them to pick a character and jot down why, how, and what it is about them that they like. The answers might be short, however the students will still have to think critically to get the answers.
            I have also found this medium to be useful to teach my kids about different cultures. A few students in my class speak other languages. As an example I will sometimes play a song (ex. “Old McDonald”) in English, then play that same song in a different language. I feel that this will help them gain understanding of different types of cultures in the world.
            There is a lot of opportunity to use pop culture for a student’s benefit. There are educational TV shows, environmental print (such as Mcdonald’sã old slogan “We love to see you smile”) and more for children to gather knowledge. From expression, to understanding, to even recognizing/remembering words from a TV show; I feel that certain things in the media could be useful for education.

            As always please feel free to ask me any questions whenever you would like.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Students and Reading Before It Starts

            Hello parents and students. This is Mr. L and I just want to state that getting to meet my future students and their parents yesterday has already got me excited for this school year. I am sure it is going to be great.
            One thing I’d like to discuss before classes start is a concern I had from a few parents yesterday. There was some worry as to whether or not some of your children have practiced reading enough to be ready for the 1st grade. I would like to assure the parents that after talking with the students yesterday, I am very pleased to say that I truly think so.  One question that I made sure to ask everyone in my class was what were some things that they read this summer. Some answers that I heard were “I helped my mommy read”, to “I read all my birthday cards” to “I read the words [so and so] was saying on my video-game.” The opportunity to read is everywhere and I am glad to here that my students are taking advantage of it.
            To go more in depth with what I mean I’d like to quote Russian psychologist Vygotsky: “learning begins long before school.” This is indeed true. Becoming literate occurs at home and even out in public. Children not only experience reading through daily activities but also begin to understand literature as well.  When children are read to often, they not only begin to pick up learning how to read but also associate it with good things. Because of good experiences like this students tend to already enjoy and want to read before school even starts. This is all apart of the Transactional Theory, which is something that I hope you look up or ask me about. There is an article entitled “Remembering Critical Lessons in Early Literacy Research: A Transaction Perspective” which says, “children need to be value and be valued fro who they are…” What I believe this to mean is that story time at home, complex pretends play with friends, even storied invented by the child should be valued and condoned. From what I have seen and heard I am glad to say that I believe we are doing just fine already. We will continue to value reading the entire school year.
            Lastly, I’d like to say again that I encourage questions whenever there are some. I will always do my best to give good answers.