I encouraged them to read all different genres to hopefully find a style/type they enjoyed to not only hook them into reading more but also to help them find a style of writing.
I remember challenging students to write like certain authors.
I remember smiling at the results.
But this week I saw and heard a connection between reading and writing …
My daughter really enjoys mystery books …
Her first grade teacher read aloud each day at school this year …
My husband and I have been reading aloud to her at bedtime …
Now she wants to read to us instead!
And many of the books have been mysteries.
One day this week, my daughter grabbed an empty notebook and said, “I am going to write my very own chapter book.”
I smiled and thought that would give her something to do for a little while …
It wasn’t until I heard her sounding out the words and dramatically reading aloud what she had written that I realized what was happening …
She was writing a mystery …
She knew phrases to use as well as how to make the story sound based on the books she had read and heard …
Here is an excerpt of what she has written:
Hi, my name is Katey and I’m a mystery girl. Last Thursday I found a tree house in the middle of nowhere and it had lots of books inside. Inside I found a medal that had the letter M on it and I know it belonged to someone, but who? I pointed to a picture and immediately went there. I saw a boy with red eyes and he walked over to me.
I know that is just a start but it makes this former reading and writing teacher very happy!
After she writes more, I could have her use the writing features on Big Universe Learning to create her own book!
What are some ways you encourage your students to connect reading and writing?
How can you use Big Universe Learning to help with that?
In the early days of using the internet as a research tool, to my shock and horror, I noticed that my Comp and Lit college students were doing something much worse than handing in pre-written and heavily circulated essays. What could be worse than purchasing or borrowing, a.k.a., cheating? Cutting and pasting random quotes from the internet into a Word program, heavily plagiarized as they were not attributed to sources, and not promoting a single, original thought. At least with a recycled paper, there would be a few stray thoughts from the “new” author. I sat down to a slew of these papers, hobbled together with no transitions, no structure or developed thesis. I googled some phrases from student papers and soon found the sources, and poor sources at that. I knew that my next lesson would be: what is plagiarism; what the school’s consequences for it is; and critical thinking skills about sources and, of course, defining a thesis.
What bothered me most, aside from their laziness, is that my students took opinions as fact. And I clearly am not alone. Johanna Llanos in Teaching Students Better Online Research Skills, writes of an elementary school teacher who realized that her students were submitting projects with misinformation and also began teaching online research skills. Llanos points out that teachers and librarians now teach how to “evaluate a website’s credibility, how to use precise keywords, and how to better mine search engines and databases.” It includes how to use search engines and how words, symbols, quotation marks and even minus signs help better focus research. These skills are often labeled digital-literacy skills, but knowing how to effectively research is only the first step in understanding the research, a part of critical thinking skills.
Old-school critical thinking expert, Edward Glaser has written much on this topic, which dates back to 1941. Especially with today’s Common Core push, teachers need to address critical thinking – who is the source, does the source have a bias, what is another perspective to the issue? To portray opinions (even some newspaper articles) as fact is a huge disservice to our children. A great example is the Wikipedia online encyclopedia. Although commonly regarded as factual, it is written by volunteers and may not be objective or accurate. And as my young son begins online research, I have taught him, just becuase it is in Wikipedia, or anywhere online, doesn’t mean it is accurate information.
In A Quick Guide to 21st Century Critical Thinking Skills for Educators includes a great schema to use to teach critical thinking skills, one that can be modified for younger students and used in parts or a whole for older students:
An infographic based on Enokson (above) is “a kind of road map containing all the major critical thinking skills we need to know.” I find the evaluation section most important as it is the first step toward owning an original thought, and without it, there would be no thesis in student essays.
“Cyberspace” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Those are the words I heard from my daughter the other night at bedtime after she read to me.
And those words made my heart smile!
My little one reads the stories again and again right now at her own choosing …
But what she doesn’t know is that Repeated Reading is an intervention strategy to increase fluency, confidence, comprehension, and word recognition.
Having used the Repeated Reading strategy as a teacher with struggling readers and now seeing my own daughter embrace this practice, I know that this practice does help even though I doubted it some in the beginning.
At the beginning of my teaching career, I remember sharing with students how it is always good to read something you have read before since you will get more out of it the second or third time and may even notice something you missed before.
I guess my comment was reflective of the reading enjoyment benefits of repeated reading.
The more I paid attention, the more I realized that readers, especially ones just starting out and ones that struggle, approach a story the first time using the lens of word recognition and practicing decoding skills. Many times those readers have to focus so much on picking apart the words that they tend to miss the meaning/flow of the story.
It is when they go back to the same story with new confidence that the words flow somewhat easier and the story becomes the focus …
There are lots of great stories on Big Universe that would be great for reading again and again!
Just try to stop technology in the classroom, and you might have better luck trying to stop a freight train. Harry Keller, Editor of Science Education and Literacy for ETC Journal (educational technology & change), writes in Technological Literacy: The Key to Education Reform that by combining technology with literacy can we reform education. Much more than simply “one of the latest buzz phrases in education,” technological literacy is not isolated technologies such as interactive white boards and iPads that surface in classrooms followed up by literacy lessons. The concept is about knowing how to effectively use technology, hands-on, in the classroom.
But knowing how to use technology is the first step, and knowing how to effectively use it is the second step. I know an “old-school” elementary-level teacher who is not technologically savvy. For the most part, she doesn’t respond to parent emails with emails. She asks students and support staff how to use the classroom ipads. This doesn’t make her a bad teacher, she is simply “technologically illiterate” in a district that is becoming heavily technologically literate. But what Keller would say in this case is “the solution [to our current education crisis] is at hand, but without technological literacy in our schools right down to the classroom teacher, it won’t be implemented, and we’ll continue down the slope to increasing failure.” That kind of implication makes me want to meet with her to gently show how these things work.
Just having technology available in a school system is not the answer – Keller argues that we now need “the ability to understand and evaluate technology” – both from a teacher perspective and district perspective. He writes that “anyone in the implementation chain must also be able to understand the implications of the decision to use a particular technology.”
Yet even our young students are technologically savvy, often referred to a “digital natives” – and we know that we can reach students this way. With the increase in online literacy programs like Big Universe and the multitude of learning apps for typical and special needs students, we need to use technology effectively, otherwise it becomes simply a replacement for a chalkboard.
Tonya Wright in Technology and Literacy in the Early Childhood Classroom, writes that “the early childhood community has been slower to catch when it comes to technology. A recent survey of early childhood professionals by Child Care Information Exchange revealed that among child care centers, most that use technology only do so for administrative purposes such as accounting or record-keeping; and classroom use is often limited to educational software.” Yet “technology can positively impact classroom practices” – from “lesson plan ideas, recipes, and classroom themes,” even by preschool students.
She suggests using digital images (in a slide show), e-pal sites, create student electronic portfolios, and Word-processing and desktop publishing software. Her suggestions are great as the real-life applications to these includes technological literacy, a basic skill set for many of today’s jobs, and includes capabilities such as creating slide show presentations, interacting with others through digital means, and before even getting the job, creating a visual portfolio on a leave-behind CD after an interview.
This doesn’t mean the old school teacher I referred to has to throw out the chalk with the chalkboard. Clearly our district is pushing a current technology, and I’d like to see them be held accountable for teaching her how to use it. She’d be surprised how quickly it would become just another tool to effectively teach. Is your district pushing a particular technology that others seems to be struggling to use?
Image courtesy of M – Pics at FreeDigitalPhotos.net