Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Exploring Writing in the Classroom

Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarden by Lilian G. Katz discusses the importance of having a well rounded literacy experience. It especially delves into the topic of read alouds. Children today often read books in their childcare settings, but what they aren't learning is who wrote the book and who drew the pictures. It is important for teachers and caregivers to introduce who the author and illustrator are of a book. It helps children relate to the book and to know that someone wrote the book and maybe they might want to be writers or illustrators too. As teachers it is important for us to talk about all the components of a books for instance the people who make books, what makes a picture book, a picture book, talk about different kinds of books, the purpose for books, and the decisions writers and illustrators make. When children are learning about these components they are learning about new opportunities for themselves.

Another great book that talks about developing literacy with children is Castle in the Classroom: A Story as a Springboard for Early Literacy by Georgia Heard talks about developing certain characteristics of a story for example plot, setting, characters, etc. In the book it talks about a teacher who converted her one classroom into a literacy experiment. The children broke off into groups and chose certain scenes to depict such as a castle, forest, and a beanstalk. Through this real life experience the children explored the setting, developing the characters, and writing the plot for their stories. The children learned about all these aspects through a hands on experience. I think this is very doable in a preschool setting. Children are learning through play and developing literacy and writing skills in a fun and unique way.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Children and Technology

In this day and age technology is everywhere and children are starting to use technology from a very young age. Toddlers are using Ipads and computers to play games, draw, and talk to grandma. Some are wondering, is it too early for children to use Ipads and computers at such a young age? Is it appropriate?

It depends on the reasons behind it. If teachers and parents are using technology as a replacement for interaction then yes it is inappropriate. But if they are using it as a learning tool, then it may be okay. While computers and Ipads don't take the place of the teacher or hands-on learning it is an alternative to conventional methods of teaching. There are so many applications and programs for children that are age appropriate and geared toward learning that children and teachers can use in the classroom and parents can use at home. There are programs for letter recognition, letter sounds, colors, numbers, math, science, social studies, art, etc. The uses of technology are endless.

There has to be a balance. Children learn so much through play with their peers and their environment. Children can also learn a lot through technology. Teachers and parents have to find that balance between the two. Technology can be use to extend a child's learning experience or to present material in a new way. Children also need to get out there and get their hands dirty and learn through doing.

So parents and teachers get out there and find that happy medium and learn with your kids!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Literacy- Enriched Play Centers

Literacy-enriched play centers are an important part of the classroom and to children's development. Creating literacy- enriched centers is simple. Below are several ways you can incorporate them into your classroom.

                                                         Art Gallery
     - Invite an artistic person into the classroom. This could be a parent, family members,
       museum curators, exhibit designers.        
     - Tour an art gallery or museum.
     - Share literature that focuses on art and artists from multiple cultural backgrounds.
     - Create an area that the children can use to showcase their art.
     - Have children present multiple works of art.

                                                       Construction Site

     - Tour home-improvement stores
     - Visit construction sites
     - Invite architects, designers, construction workers., plumbers, electricians, etc to come speak
     - Create an area for children to role play
     - Provide hard hats, tool belts, safety glasses, toy trucks, bull dozers, dump trucks, tools, boxes
       to use to build, writing utensils and paper for blueprints
     - Books about construction

                                                        Space Station

     - Visit websites about space stations
     - Share books about space, pictures
     - Provide items to make telescopes (paper towel rolls, cylindrical items)
     - PIctures of outer space, starts, planets, galaxies, etc
     - Boxes for making space ships, tin foil, paint, stickers, etc.
     - Paper and pencils for the children to draw maps, plans diagrams

                                                      Weather Station

     - View weather programs, videos
     - Listen to weather reports, radio
     - Provide students with websites to visit to view weather, record weather, observe weather
       around the world
     - Place a table and a magnetic white board or chalkboard near a window
     - Provide maps, video cameras, magnets and pictures of weather with weather words
     - Books about weather
     - Paper and pencils to observe and record the weather

Literacy is all around us in different forms. We use literacy in our daily lives, to do our jobs, to imagine, remember, and to function in general. Why not incorporate them in new inviting ways for children. Literacy-enriched centers provide children with a new opportunity to explore literature.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Discovery Through Read Alouds

Reading aloud to children is so important for their literacy development. During read alouds you are modeling so much. For instance, you are modeling how to hold a book, how to read from left to right, how to read with inflection, how to ask questions and reflect on what you have read etc. There are countless things children pick up on before, during, and after reading a book. Here are a few things to consider when reading with a child.

Before Reading:

Look at the Cover: What do you see on the cover? What do you think the story is going to be about? How can you tell?

Talk About the Pictures and the Text: Flip through the pages and have the children tell you what they see. How is the text arranged? Do you think this will be a long story or a short story? Are there any words that you don't know?

During Reading:

Make Predictions: After reading a few pages, stop and see if the students can predict what happens next. See if the students recognize a pattern.

Synthesize and Summarize: Ask the children what has happened so far? This will help with comprehension. If some students are having trouble remembering, pair them up with another student.

After Reading:

Making Personal Connections: Have you heard a story like this before? Has something like this happened to you? What part of the story did you like? How did you feel during a certain part?

So pick up a book and start reading to your children and see what they discover!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Voices in Early Literacy

Continuing on from last week, in order for children to develop a love of reading they need to be interested in the books they read and be able to relate to them. Freedom of choice is the most important aspect of developing literacy. A great way to introduce new books and create interests in children is having read-alouds. When teachers read aloud to their students, students can develop connections to the readings.
Children respond to texts in a variety of ways. For example:
Personal Connections: Children draw from their personal experiences. If you are reading book about animals in a zoo, a child might chime in saying, “I went to the zoo with my mommy and we saw the penguins and tigers!”
Predictions: Children can expect what is going to happen next in a story if they can find a pattern. Take for instance the story of The Three Little Pigs, after the wolf visits the house of straw and is able to blow it down he goes to the house made out of sticks. The children can predict that the house isn’t sturdy enough and the wolf will be able to blow the house down.
Evaluations of Books: Children know if they like a book or not and they often express their views. A child may really like the story of The Three Little Pigs while another child does not.
Play with Language: Young children often take things literally. For instance an example given by Judith Wells Lindfors in her book Children’s Language stated that a child mentioned a book should be heavy
Acting Out/ Dramatizing: Children can take a book or story to a whole new level by acting it out. Children can create the story of The Three Little Pigs by making houses out of items found in the classroom such as blocks. By acting it out children gain a different perspective on the story.
These are just a few of the ways children respond to texts. So pick a book and read it aloud and see what your child can discover!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

YES, It's Just That Easy!

This past we visited the public library. The library is filled with so many resources for parents and teachers as well as children. Many libraries offer special events for children such as a story hour. Children and their families are welcome to come and enjoy the festivities. At our public library, books are projected on a screen so that all children can see them and enjoy the story. There are many activities throughout the short program to keep the young children entertained such as music and interactive story telling where children can help tell the story through art. This is a wonderful experience for children because it opens up new opportunities for developing literacy. There are other specialized events that are more geared toward individual age groups that would be beneficial for all learners. The library is a great place for children to explore and chose books that interest them instead have to read what was chosen for them in the classroom. This helps children become active engaged learners because they have chance to develop the love of reading on their own.

Renowned author James Patterson provided CNN with some insight on getting children to read. He states, "The best way to get kids reading more is to give them books that they'll gobble up -- and that will make them ask for another. Yes, it's that simple. 1 + 1 = 2. Kids say the No. 1 reason they don't read more is that they can't find books they like. Freedom of choice is a key to getting them motivated and excited. Vampire sagas, comics, manga, books of sports statistics -- terrific! -- as long as kids are reading. Should they read on e-tablets? Sure, why not? How about rereading a book? Definitely. And don't tell them a book is too hard or too easy. "Great Expectations"? Absolutely. "Finnegans Wake"? Well, maybe not. And remember, books can be borrowed free at libraries." 

Getting children to read is simple. Let them choose books that interest them. Let your children get out there and READ and EXPLORE literature!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Language Interpretation

According to Judith Wells Lindfors author of Children’s Language, oral language is the child’s first expressive system in these early years, so most of the findings relate to oral language. Children have been immersed in a sea of language that has provided literally millions of opportunities to observe how competent speakers use language and to engage in doing it themselves, however they are able to – through facial expression, gesture, word, word-combinations. Children observe and notice patterns in language.
Whether it’s an infant and mother having a conversation about their day or a five year old and his teacher reading books, they are using language to express themselves and communicate with others. Language is everywhere and children are listening, learning, dissecting, interpreting, and figuring out how they will use it themselves. The way children use language is unique and personal to them.  So if you think you child is making nonsense sounds such as babbling, think again. They have been watching and listening to you use language and they are trying to use it with you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interpreting Environmental Print

Hello Parents! A new topic for discussion this week is environmental print. It is everywhere. How many times have you been driving down the road with your child and they see a McDonald’s sign and scream, “I want a happy meal! Please, please, please can we go?” You didn’t mention McDonald’s or anything it serves, but somehow your child knows that you have driven by there. This is environmental print. They are reading the environment around them and interpreting it in many ways. They see the sign and know that it has something they like. Whether they may not know how to read yet, but there are many signs and symbols that your child can read and know what it says without knowing how to spell it or even what letters it contains. This is another aspect to understanding that your children know more about language than we think they do. Before your children entered my classroom they already knew a whole lot reading, writing and language. They read street signs, labels on cans and cereal boxes, advertisements, buildings, etc.  Before your children learn the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make, your children can read and interpret language. Before they can understand the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make, they need to understand the abstract. They need to analyze objects and interpret them in their own ways first to be able to understand apple starts with the letter “a” and makes a long “a” sound. Throughout the year we are going to be focusing on interpreting what we already know in order to better understand written language and learn how to read and write like adults. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Creating a home away from home

Hello Parents! I hope you all enjoyed the first week back with your children. I loved getting to know each and everyone of your children and I think we are going to have a fabulous year together.  I want to encourage parents to communicate with me about anything throughout the year, whether it is about your child or concerns in general.  I want to establish good relationships with all my parents, so please feel free to contact me anytime. Together we can create the best learning environment for your children.
            Another piece of information I would like to share with you is about your child’s cultural background. If your child is fluent in another language I encourage you to share with the rest of the class some words that might be helpful for not only your child, but other classmates as well. We can post words around our classroom on our everyday objects to enrich the student’s lives about other cultures. It’s a way to bring your child’s home life into the classroom. It may make them feel more comfortable to see that they can share the way they communicate at home with others. If you have books at home in your native language please feel free to share them with the class as well. I cannot stress enough how much we are going to read, read, read this year!
Your children are smart, unique little individuals eager to learn and grow. Read tons of books with your child everyday! Children love to hear their favorite stories over and over again. Nothing is more beneficial than creating a nightly ritual of sharing bedtime stories with your child. This sweet and intimate time will foster a love of reading and literacy that is shared between you and your child. Before long, you will no longer be doing the reading! What a wonderful time to experience together with your child.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Remembering Critical Lessons in Early Literacy Research: A Transactional Perspective

Welcome parents! I hope everyone enjoyed their summers. Let’s leap into the new school year together. Your child will be spending tons of time in our room. We will call it our “home away from home.” I hope our days inside the classroom are filled with lots of new, exciting adventures and laughter. We will learn through play. We will be heavily focused on reading. Early literacy development is a very part of a child’s learning journey.  Learning begins long before a child enters the classroom. A research article entitled “Remember Critical Lessons in Early Literacy Research: A Transactional Perspective” discusses three main aspects of early literacy of young children. The main aspects are literacy is individual, literacy is social and literacy is a cultural practice.
Children create their own form of literacy at a very young age based on what they hear and learn from adults, peers, family, etc... Children have their own language and form of communication that is individual and unique to them that contributes to their literacy development. Children learn and grow through a community of peers and family. They communicate with symbols and multiple means of representation to get their point across. Play is a huge part of children growth and development. Children's cultural experiences play a part in their literacy development. Family stories and cultural upbringings are an important part in how children develop language and learn how to read.
While working in a daycare, I have watched many infant and toddlers recite in their own way a story that has been read to them over and over again. They know what comes next in a story; they can repeat moments of suspense, and events that they found hilarious. They point, they draw, and they make noises, and act. Literacy is a part of children’s lives from an early age.
I can’t wait to meet your children and start a great year together. I look forward to learning their unique personalities and learning styles.