18 December 2014

Literacy practice in the Early Years - The Journey Begins Update #1

I'm about to embark on a journey of discovery (actually I'm always on a journey of discovery). I'm pretty excited about this particular journey though. But before I set off I need to check a few things. This year we are submitting two goals to explore/critique/inquire and reflect on through the year. This is part of our appraisal system. I referred to these a few times before and each time there have been changes - I've always set goals, so this is not something new to me. However, a recent presentation by Tony Burkin (notes here) got me thinking. It got me thinking alot...

Reflection is not the same as taking ACTION. He referred to 3 fence post questions that Hal Moore used in his courageous battles.

* What's happening?
* What's not happening?
* How can I influence what's not happening?

One of the goals I chose to explore is based on my current interest in English Language Learners/ALL learners and literacy practices that support them to be successful in their learning journey, the goal is/was:

Explore and engage in action-research that uncovers optimal literacy learning practices for children in Early Years education.

However, having listened to Tony talk over the past few weeks I am beginning to realise that perhaps this goal is not the RIGHT goal. In fact, its so broad and fluffy I am guaranteed little progress at all. So, in my quest to explore the RIGHT goal, here is my new focus for the year.

What literacy practices best support ALL learners academic success?

Okays so here is is in black and white - I do not like drill and skill worksheets, I loathe and detest coloring in pages and I really don't see the point in making children learn sight words. I'm not sure if I totally agree with 'early readers' either. For the longest time I haven't had to justify or rationalise this. In my teaching practice at home in NZ this just wasn't the done thing in early childhood, in fact it was frowned upon by Ministry of Education and Education Review Office. So why am I challenging and investigating this now? Well in International Teaching teachers come from all over the world - literally and with them they bring their own philosophical values and beliefs. No one point of view is right or wrong but I am finding myself question my own values when it comes to literacy practices that best support children.So here I am, at the start of a very exciting journey.

Tony suggested in his presentation that we move from a professional diary to a professional journal and offered some advice for guiding questions. We are about to head into Winter Break and I will be away from school for some time so will make a start to the journaling process here.

How by choosing this inquiry do I hope to influence student outcomes?

I will make informed decisions about literacy practices that are grounded in recent research that support good literacy practices for ALL children's academic success.

What will be my first steps?
  • Stocktake my current literacy practices (what am I currently doing to support oral, written and visual language - PYP Language Arts Scope and Sequence?)
  • Look at my environment and note how this supports literacy
  • Compile data on English Language Learners - what languages do we speak in our class?
Stay posted for more updates...it's sure to be a bumpy road.

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