Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wow- Nichole, what an interesting experience you and Becca had.  I'm wondering what your colleagues think about this?  I agree that things were wrong with the experience you observed. Sometimes the folks we work alongside do not share our definition of literacy or learning... Sometimes parents don't share our definitions, either.  Remember your locus of control.  While you may not be able to control what happens when your students are away from your room, you can control the experience they have in your room, and whether or not they have additional trips to the library where you are supervising. Just thoughts for the future.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What does it mean to be 'literate?'

When my group was asked to define what it meant to be 'literate' we came up with several ideas:

  • First, we determined it meant being able to have a multicultural understanding of the world. The means being able to take into consideration other points of view from different cultures when making a decision. 
  • Next, we felt it was important to be an informed and participating citizen in society.   
  • Another portion to this definition is visual and audial reading and understanding. We feel that by including audial reading, this includes those with visual impairments or other cognitive impairments that limits them to only printed text. 
  • Comprehension and interpretation of a given subject matter is also vital for literacy. Not only is the 'traditional' idea of comprehension important, but being able to take in a given idea and make it into your own unique interpretation is also important in understanding. 
  • Oral communication – or visual communication is also an important part of being literate. Individuals need to share their ideas, and thoughts with their peers to help contribute to the future of literacy .  
  • Finally, in our ever developing world it is vital to understand and impliment use of the techonologies of our time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Entry #2

Similar to what Erin said, I broke up literacy into categories, which were broken up in my developmentally appropriate curriculum book. The categories are interrelated, but sequential at the same time. Literacy is listening, speaking, writing, reading, and viewing. After class today, I have changed my view on the topic. I think that some sort of technological category needs to be emphasized in literacy. The internet relates to every category of literacy and I feel that with today’s time, it needs to be emphasized more.
I hope to make my classroom somewhat of a literacy haven. I want print to be everywhere. Everyhing should be labeled with a word and a picture to help with word recognition. Familiar words, such as the children’s name, can be placed in many locations and be used to daily activity. Books should be anti-bias, and feature children of different cultures, genders, race, and abilities. Writing materials should be placed around the classroom for the children to use. In pretend play, items like grocery lists can be used to help develop of genre knowledge. Interactive prompts should be placed around the classroom. For example, in the book area I would place a poster that said, “What is your favorite book?” Then the children could respond. The playing of words will be everywhere. By clapping out names, singing songs, and having interactive rhymes like “Willoughby Wallaby” the children are getting more phonemic awareness. Literacy is also important when referring to the skills of the adults interacting with the children. Depending on the age, providing verbal prompts for the children to be able to communicate their thoughts will help extend their vocabulary.

Just a side note, slightly unrelated to the blog subject:
Becca and I visited our school’s library with our children this past week. We wanted to get an idea of what kind of books were available for the children. I wanted to check out the critical literacy that was in our urban, city school. Our children usually go on Friday, but due to an in-service day, the children were going to the library with another class on Thursday. Our second grade students were going with the neighboring kindergarten class. The teachers in the class usually drop off the students while the librarian works with them. This time, the librarian put in a movie about jellyfish. She had to speak with a parent, so she placed Becca and I in charge. The children, especially the kindergarten students, spoke to each other about the movie. The librarian walked towards the children and told them in a stern voice to stay quiet. We didn’t see a problem with the children talking, if it was related to the movie. Then each class got to choose books from a select assortment placed on a nearby table. The other students were to watch the movie in silence. The child in our class who is diagnosed with a learning disability, was left to wander around the classroom. Becca noted that the lack of structure was very problematic for him. When the children started talking, the librarian yelled, “Be quiet or I will make you write sentences.” Nearby, a pile of papers sat on a table with the words: “I will be quiet in the library,” written multiply times.
I felt like EVERYTHING was wrong with this experience. I understand that it is difficult to find qualified, trained staff but how is this appropriate? The kindergarten students may not even have their fine motor skills developed to even write their names. Plus, how could you expect four and five year old children to sit still and just watch a movie without any structure? The second grade students had trouble with the task. I feel like this experience could interfere with these young children’s interest in literacy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Shannon's Goals for 2009

In 2007-2008, I was placed in an upper- (to middle) income public school in Holt, Michigan. Upon entering the doors you were quickly greeted by the Principal's warm smile and a friendly hug from your teacher (in Kindergarten thru 1st grade). The classrooms were spacious and the teacher's had their own supply closet to store their classroom materials. Little did I know, that other schools in the same district were not a mirror image of the warming and cohesive school I had grown to love in Holt. 
This year (2008-2009), I am placed in a second grade classroom within the same county as Holt, Michigan - however the classroom setting is vastly different. In the Lansing Public schools, the student population is very diverse from that of Holt student's, and the school's overall feel is much different from that of of Holt. The administration and teacher's do not seem to have such open communication that I saw at the previous school district. My classroom consists of 25 young learners, congested into a smaller classroom. With students from all different cultural backgrounds, and learning backgrounds - my teacher is constantly striving to meet these various needs on her own. 
I have learned that this 'urban' school is drastically underfunded, and in desperate need of help in the classroom. With large class sizes, and shrinking budgets - many teacher's fear that their classrooms may grow still in 2009-2010. So, I ask, "How do we teach to such a large and vastly diverse group of learners?" That is, how do we reach all cultural backgrounds of students in literature, yet still maintain our 'task' of following the scheduled curriculum? In Holt, majority of the students were from a Caucasian background, with both parents involved in their child's progress in school. Therefor, their literature may not necessarily discuss the different cultural and economic backgrounds that many Americans come from. However, it is important in the more 'urban' setting to discuss and familiarize their students with the various backgrounds to help their learners understand their peers. 
I am beginning to learn how to base more of your lessons from the G.L.C.E.'s around literature and into other subject areas (Social Studies projects or assignments, Science and Mathematics). But why aren't more and more teachers following the same path? Teacher's struggle to connect all of their content in the classroom to each other (Ex: literature from a historic novel into science discoveries of that time period). I too, hope to find more fluid ways to connect my love for literature into all of my subject areas I will teach during my internship year and beyond. Besides, if a student doesn't particularly enjoy math - what better way to learn it than to present it in a different way that better suites their individual needs (story problems for those who enjoy literature or problem solving - or in a systematic way for students who like structure - as in science)?

Chelsea's Goals

I too, similar to Nichole, would like to learn about how to teach literacy in schools with limited resources. I also would like to learn more about developing curriculum with resources such as the book room, and how to connect the GLCEs to the books we read, and to be able to keep the students motivated throughout the school year.
As if that isn't enough, I am going to be a special education teacher and would like to develop a knowledge base of how to work with students in a general education setting with varying ability levels in both reading and writing. I also would like to develop a base of knowledge of materials and techniques to keep challenging students interested.
Basically, I hope to get a lot out of this class :) considering I am a special education major with language arts as my integrated major.

Nichole's Blog

One thing that I am interested in learning and experiencing is teaching in an environment with limited resources. The urban setting that I am currently in does not have many resources, whether quality anti-bias children’s literature or paraprofessionals to help guide struggling children. I have seen the “book rooms” that Erin spoke about during my original placement in a Holt School. I have also witnessed classrooms in which the only literacy instruction is done by using old, tattered, miscellaneous books that the teacher has accumulated over time. Our goal as teachers is to provide all children with equal education, regardless of socio-economic status, ability, gender, or race. However, it sounds much easier than it really is. I want to learn techniques to go about reaching that goal, regardless of what the school environment is.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Prompt for Week 1:

Read the syllabus and write about your goals for the course. Write specifically about your thoughts about your preparation for placement in an urban setting and with literacy instruction. How do you want to use this course to help aid you in that preparation? What do you want to learn about teaching in an urban setting and language arts instruction? How do you want to “bloom?”

And... GO!