Sunday, January 29, 2012

“Every Mark on the Page” has a purpose.

The article listed above has great insight and explanations into the mind of young children who are learning to write. For those guardians who worry about their child’s pace of writing progression, this article may help.

One of the first things a teacher should know before stepping into a classroom is to never underestimate a child. Many times the children have the ability to handle progression the guardians may think is too fast for them and they also may have specific reasons for why they write a certain way. Here are a couple of examples.
·      Drawings Followed by Writing- A lot of early writers will have drawings that precedes their writing. This helps children see what they want to write. This is their “planning” stage.
·      Backward, Forward, Upside-Down- I still remember when I would get my “b’s” and “d’s” mixed up while writing. A reason why an “s” may be backward or a “q” will replace a “d” is because they experiment or “explore the limits” with letters.
·      Same Letters, Different Arrangement- When children experiment will letter arrangements they are showing signs of progression. It shows that they understand that 26 letters are arranged to make many words. Over time they will understand the limits of arranging.

What teachers and guardians can do is give support and positive feedback. This can give children confidence to keep writing and keep trying. Kate Foley Cusumano gives a few suggestions on how to do this. Some of these include resisting from correcting spelling mistakes, letting them see writing (texts, magazines) everyday, and thinking of fun writing activities such as providing captions to scrapbooks.

Thank you to Kate Foley Cusumano and her article. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Community Equals Recourses

            As a teacher I will be using many resources to give my students information and experiences. Some will be books, websites, and tools. However some of the resources that I think my students can get a lot out of are places within the community.

            The other day I went to my local Kroger and asked the manager if field trips were allowed and what might be included. Even though I let him know that I was only a student and did not have a class at the moment, he seemed happy to let me know what a field trip to the Kroger would include. He first explained what students could take away from here. I had known why I would pick a grocery store for a field trip but I did not think that he would start by saying what I had originally thought. He said a grocery store has a community and home feeling that children are used to but also has plenty of new things that could interest them as well. A tour here would be like finding a hidden room at your own home. He then told me what a tour would include. There would be a “behind the scenes tour, a trip to the office on the second floor, free samples with tasty foods, and also possible goody-bags for the students. Lastly he said that they also take suggestions and work with teachers in planning the tour.

            After talking to him I realized that a lot of stores and people within the community enjoy being able to help schools. If teachers are willing to ask around, the students can gain new meaningful experiences in their community.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Literacy ≠ Reading Words Completely

            A common misconception is in order to be literate a person must be able to comprehend words. Reading words is a big part of literacy and very important, however it is not the most essential aspect. I feel literacy is mainly about being able to attain and retain a message from a source (books, letters, text). There are other visual representations that can do this just as well.

            With Valentine’s Day coming up the message that a lot of people want to give to one another is “I love you” or “I care about you”. Writing these words on a Valentines card or something else will definitely give the message to the other person. However this message could possibly have the same or more meaning if say a child gives their guardians a drawing of their family on a paper heart. Or maybe an individual who is in another country can send the person they care about a picture of them self.  These messages can say something meaningful without using a single letter.

            The key is to use visuals that are meaningful to the reader in someway. For example the book Arrival by Shaun Tan is a wordless picture book could have easily had words to explicitly display meanings. Instead this story allows the reader to interpret the message that they find however they want to. There are some who see a man using his own special kind of literacy to communicate with his family. The message I take from this story is while loved ones may have to leave, they will always be with you and you will be able to see them again.

            This form of literacy is important and is also what a lot of children use before they can learn to read. What adults can do is continue to show children the importance of attaining meanings from visuals. Even as an adult a picture can say a thousand words.