Monday, January 19, 2015

Literacy Learning Update #2

If you've been following my blog you will know that I am on a journey, one of many this year. You can read about my literacy journey here and take a glimpse into my classroom here.

So todays post is an update...

What's happened?
SUCCESSES/BREAKTHROUGHS - Evaluation of how and why?
There are ample opportunities to read, write and talk in my classroom. Children are encouraged to talk to each other all day every day - except for when I'm reading (although questioning is encouraged).  I'm not a teacher who asks children to be quiet while walking to single subject classes or while 'lining' up to head outside or morning moves. Talking in my opinion is a vital way of learning a language - we've got to use it! 

We sing and i make up funny rhymes when I am instructing children to do things. The classroom routines have been established so there is little guidance or direction from me - I mention to the children we have morning moves and they organise themselves to get to the shared space where morning moves is held. I say "let's do some journal writing" and they get their journal, pens, pencils etc. I do little to no explicit teaching of writing/reading or talking. Instead I provide lots of opportunities to engage with resources (emergent literacy) and make many attempts in a day to personally have conversations with children.

What's not happening?
I have come across a range of interesting ideas about literacy on Twitter, Blogs and Facebook. Perhaps the most profound that pops up time and time again is the importance and impact of reading on children's academic success. The image below has come through on my Twitter feed numerous times. 

I can (and do) advocate to families the importance of reading at home. However, I would like to take responsibility for this in my classroom too. My assistant teacher and I read on average 1-2 books a day (to the whole class, maybe more to individual children), sometimes I don't prioritise reading instead I tidy or arrange things in the classroom, or I play group games or when children are having a snack instead of reading to them I complete administrative tasks (emails and attendance). While these are all important, I'm starting to realise that most of these can be achieved in other ways or at a different time of the day.

So what's not happening? I am not prioritising reading aloud to children EVERYDAY.

The other thing that doesn't happen as much as I would like it to is the motivation of boys engaging in literacy-rich experiences. My class (boys) happily do the routine type activities - sign their name in, journal writing, identifying names etc. But generally they do not want to self-regulate reading and writing in the classroom.

So what's not happening? The boys in my class are not engaging in self-regulated literacy experiences or the boys in my class are not motivated to engage in emergent literacy opportunities.

What am I going to do to influence what is not happening? (Over the next one week I will)

Reading Aloud to Children
Based on what I now know about reading and the importance of reading TO children I am inspired to complete a February challenge. Every day I will find an opportunity to read 3 books to my class and record these on my calendar. This will keep me accountable and make me prioritise reading in our day. Of course some of these stories will be repeated depending on the interest of the class but my hope is that reading to children frequently will become a habit in our classroom. My awesome Assistant teacher will continue to contribute by reading in English and Arabic to our group of learners as well.

Motivating Boys
I read this article - Brilliant ideas for your writing area and was inspired to change a few things in my classroom. The article suggests that we get rid of writing areas and create writing provocations everywhere. As a result of reading this I set up a reading tent outside in the playground, I placed a mat, cushions and books and waited for an invitation to read to kids. On the first day of setting this area up in the outdoor area, one of my most active boys in the class sat and listened to 8 stories - yes 8. Fantastic result. Now I need to explore ways to have other children involve themselves and enjoy emergent reading and writing in all curriculum areas.

How many books do you read to your whole class in a day? Please comment below.

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