The Golden Oldies are still important. Resurrecting the tools from long ago happened at our last session on April 8, 2013. The session ‘Building a Bridge ~Linking Reading and Writing’ was well attended by passionate Primary educators. Lillah and I began our teaching using the ‘Ann Ingham’ tool sounds and their stories. We noticed that somewhere along the journey, these valuable tools have disappeared or are often hidden in classrooms. One teacher commented on how she felt relieved that she “doesn’t have to feel bad about using the tools with the stories” with her students. Somehow she felt that these ‘tools and their stories’ were not seen as ‘best teaching practices’. We revived and recreated the tools to be more appealing and updated for today’s classrooms.
Students need to make connections and learn to apply ‘phonetic tools’ to their reading and writing. Explicitly teaching these tools and allowing the students to explore, discover and make inquiries with them is required. Our role as a teacher is to fill the students’ lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences that are both playful and purposeful. Asking students to fill in worksheets does not meet the criteria. Searching for words, applying the tools, and authentic practice ways allows students to make connections.
Research supports that reading and writing are different processes that share a reciprocal relationship. Understanding this will allow us to scaffold and differentiate our instruction for our learners. By providing them with the right ‘tools’ they will ensure what they read and write makes sense, sounds read and looks right.
Our Safari into Literacy continues. Today Lillah Martin and I facilitated the next session focused on sight words with over 80 wonderful teachers. We always admire the dedication of these teachers to attend an after school workshop to network, share ideas and take back ideas to support their students. Sight words are one of the keys to fluency in reading and writing. By giving children the opportunity to internalize sight words through explicit teaching and meaningful, engaging practice you are giving them the gift of reading with confidence. With that confidence, comes the excitement of discovering the meaning of the text and the joy that books can bring. Reading sight words with fluency and ease allows our brains to ponder the more challenging words, make meaning from the text, and feel like a “reader”. Refer to the ‘Sight Word Safari’ page to explore ideas to help your students learn sight words.
Today Lillah Martin (Early Literacy Helping Teacher) and I went on an ‘Alphabet Adventure’ with over 80 Surrey teachers. This is the first of a series of workshops focusing on emphasizing ‘play’ as an important part of classrooms.
Somewhere along the line, the word ‘play’ was replaced with ‘work’. There seems to be pressure for teachers to teach students how to ‘read’ at an earlier age. The focus on letter names and sounds, as well as words, has changed. It is far too common to see students sitting at desks completing worksheets rather than playfully discovering the joys of sound-symbol relationships.
Our students need to be curious, engaged and have a love of learning that will support literacy development for a lifetime. Research supports that students know about, and participate in, the functions of literacy long before they learn about alphabet letters and sounds.
Early learning experiences must provide a balance of play–based learning and explicit instruction. An effective program is structured in such a way to respect the learning processes for all students and to help them reach their full potential.
Our role as a teacher is to fill the students’ lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences that are both playful and purposeful. It is time to put the ‘purposeful play’ back into our classrooms. There are so many possible ways to fill our young learners’ literate lives with engaging, interactive and developmentally appropriate experiences with letters and words. Many of the ideas presented at the workshop are located on the ‘Alphabet Adventures’ page.