Tuesday, February 10, 2009

First, I have to say that I LOVED this week’s readings, primarily because this is the area that I am most comfortable in. Many of my personal examples come from my experience student teaching in a 21 month old classroom last semester, in addition to my teaching in other preschool classrooms for other Child Development Courses. This is my disclaimer.
In the Gibbon’s reading, I immediately thought of a child I had last semester. I will refer to him as S. S was a two year old child, whose parents moved from Pakistan years earlier. Although fluent in English, the parents speak Urdu in home. Unlike his classmates, S has not started using any English in the classroom yet. He hadn’t used any Urdu in home either. With S, when speaking, we had to accompany it with physical action. When S put his trash away after snack, I reflected, “You put trash away. That makes me happy (while pointing at my large smile).” At this point, he would smile back and nod. I had never dealt with an English Language Learner at such an early stage. The way we interacted with S was completely appropriate considering that he was so young. However, if interacted the same way with a fourth grader in the same situation, it would be inappropriate. Many of the strategies that Gibbons’ provided could be modified to be used in a developmentally appropriate way. Gibbons’ mentioned that you have to scaffold the English Language Learners understanding, following on Vgotsky’s theory. I feel like this is fairly obvious. All learners, regardless of age, ability, and prior knowledge, need information to be built up. You can’t hope that a house stands without a foundation. I wonder if it is problematic to make so many strategies up for ELL, perhaps making a distinction and setting a norm. I feel like many of the strategies used are similar to what we would do, just modified, similar to all instruction that we do.
As for the Tompkin’s reading, I have previously mentioned what I have done in my preschool placement for emergent literacy. For another paper, I argued the existence of a pre-emergent stage. This is the stage where I would see my younger children. At this point, it is mostly the adult’s responsibility to present a text-rich environment. There is no distinguishing characteristic between writing and drawing. Children are mostly getting experience developing their small motor skills, holding a pencil and making marks on paper. The foundation of the “pre-emergent stage” is EXPERIENCE with literacy. Unlike the younger children, the children in my TE placement class are all pretty much in the fluent stage of reading and writing. They are able to make their own paragraphs, while editing their spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. I feel like they are so knowledgeable, but understand that they have much farther to go. Therefore, I look forward to learning more about the fluent stage.

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