Literate Environment Analysis Padmaja Naidu Walden University Instructor: Dr. Davenna Williams The Beginning Reader (Pre K-3 EDUC – 6706G -9) February 19th, 2012
Creating a Literate Environment A rich classroom environment has print rich walls and a well-stocked library and a variety of other classroom materials to support children’s literacy growth. However, to translate a physically rich classroom environment into a truly literate environment, I need to understand my learners, select appropriate and engaging texts and use research-based instructional practices. The following presentation examines the ‘Framework for Literacy’, as outlined by Dr. Douglas Hartman (Laureate Education Inc., 2009). The framework enables teachers to understand the cognitive and noncognitive aspects of learners that influence their literacy growth. It also assists teachers to select texts and choose appropriate literacy strategies across the three literacy perspectives: interactive, critical, and response.
Getting to Know Literacy LearnersUnderstanding students as unique individuals who come with their share of life and literacy experiences enables us to become effective teachers of literacy. Formal and informal assessments whether in the form of observations, conferences, student work samples or published reading inventories give us valuable insights into a learner’s profile. The use of cognitive and noncognitive assessments help teachers to understand the learners better so that teachers can make correct instructional choices. By linking assessment and instruction, teacher’s improve student’s learning and their teaching (Tompkins, 2010).Cognitive assessments focuses on the skills and strategies used by students as they develop as readers ( Afflerbach, 2007).They help us understand and appreciate the challenges and growth that students experience as literacy learners.Noncognitive assessments help us understand the ‘other’ factors that contribute to a reader’s successful literacy growth beyond the mastery of skills and strategies of reading. They include reader’s motivation, self-concepts, interests, attitudes etc (Afflerbach, 2007).
Getting to Know Literacy LearnersExamples of Cognitive Assessments: Running records (Clay, 2006) Writing Samples Dynamic Indicators of Basic early Literacy Skills (DIEBELS; Good & Kaminski, 2005) The Observation Survey of early Literacy Achievement (OSELA; Clay, 2002)Examples of Noncognitive Assessments: Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS; McKenna &Kear 1990) Motivation to Read Profile Me-Stew (an informal assessment activity)
Getting to Know Literacy Learners AnalysisBy taking running records and examining the students’ writing samples I was able to assess my students’ reading and writing levels, their strengths and weaknesses. Running records helped me determine instructional reading level so I could plan guided reading lessons for them. The writing samples showed their ability to use invented spellings and their knowledge of high-frequency words so I could plan further activities to promote their writing skills. Administering the Elementary Reading Attitude survey and interviewing students to understand their personal interests and collecting their family’s background information helped me understand the noncognitive factors that were affecting their literacy learning.
Selecting Texts Once we get to know our students, the next important step is to select texts that not only engage them but provide Linguistic them with a balance in the type of texts. Dr. Douglas Hartman provides us with a handy tool for analyzing and evaluating texts as falling into one of the quadrants based on certain dimensions (Laureate Education Inc., 2011a). Narrative Literacy Informat- Matrix ional Texts can also be analyzed based on text difficulty. We could analyze the text for difficulty considerations based on readability, length of text and text structure, size of print, presence of singletons etc (Laureate Education Semiotic Inc., 2011a).
Selecting TextsEvaluating and analyzing texts so students get to engage with a wide variety of texts like narrative, informational, linguistic and semiotic types is very important. As students move to upper elementary grades (grade 3-4), the shift from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’ takes place.Engaging students in informational texts early on may prevent ‘fourth grade slump’ (Chall, 2003) that some seemingly promising readers experience apart from most struggling readers. With the increasing use of digital texts that are electronic and interactive that contain still and moving images, students may also benefit from experiences on this alternative interface. So, it is important for me choose a variety of texts in terms of genre, text structures as well as media.
Selecting Texts Analysis: For our unit of study on ‘solar system’ with grade 2 children, I chose books from the narrative, semiotic quadrant as well as books with informational, semiotic content. Further, children were also given access to reliable websites that contained valuable information with rich still and moving images. Providing students with a variety of texts not only actively engaged them but exposed them to a variety of text factors. The knowledge about text factors served as a scaffold, making comprehension easier (Meyer &Poon, 2004; Sweet & Snow, 2003). The writing activities involved synthesizing information from various texts and summarizing it in few lines which was a very valuable lesson in literacy. This activity involved not only choosing a variety of texts but integrating reading and writing with content areas and hence was very valuable and meaningful to my students.
Interactive Perspective The ultimate goal of the interactive perspective is to teach children how to be literate learners who can navigate the textual world independently (Laureate Education Inc., 2009) which not only means teaching children to become independent readers but also teach them comprehension strategies. After all, comprehension is the goal of reading; it’s the reason why people read (Tompkins,2010). Children can be taught to become independent readers by teaching them strategic processing and thinking. Strategic processing means being metacognitive about strategy use. The use of metacognitive strategies help readers to think about the best and most efficient strategy before, during and after reading. It teaches them to use different strategies for narrative and informational texts(Laureate Education Inc., 2009). Strategic processing must be threaded through all the five pillars of literacy development : phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension (Laureate Education Inc., 2009).
Interactive Perspective Analysis:How did Interactive perspective help me in creating literate environment ?Teaching metacognitive strategies like activating background knowledge and taking note of gaps in their knowledge helped my students to actively engage with the text seeking answers for the unknown. Students displayed metacognitive awareness by monitoring what they were listening to and actively seeking answers along the way.I also learned several other ways to promote metacognition and strategic thinkingamong my students. Students use these strategies while reading, listening to booksread aloud and when they are writing. I discovered that preparing a KWL chart is oneof the powerful ways to promote interactive perspective in my classroom. Thisprocedure helps students activate background knowledge, combine new informationwith prior knowledge, and learn technical vocabulary related to a thematic unit(Tompkins, 2010).
Critical & Response PerspectivesWith a wide range of information that we encounter in a variety of forms like print, electronic and digital media, it is becoming an essential skill to be able to evaluate the texts for their quality, credibility and accuracy. Further, critical literacy allows the students to look at and evaluate texts from multiple perspectives and be able to judge the validity and veracity of texts (laureate Education Inc., 2009a). Critical perspective provides students with a lens to look at text critically, to understand the purpose and intent of the text and author, and to get a deeper meaning of the text.Response perspective enables readers to actively negotiate meaning much after reading so they can connect to the text in significant and powerful ways (Tompkins, 2010). The Response perspective allows teachers to provide literacy experiences that affect students at personal and emotional level (Laureate Education Inc., 2009b).The onus is on the teachers to provide a safe and supportive environment that allows students to respond personally to a text. Response perspective encourages students to respect and examine their responses- emotions, associations, memories, images and ideas (Probst, 1987).
Critical & Response Perspectives Analysis:How did Critical and Response perspectives help me in creating a literate environment ? Exposing children to multiple versions of a classic story like ‘The three pigs and the wolf’ narrated from the perspective of both the pigs and the wolf enabled them to understand multiple perspectives. Also, discussing the author’s intent and purpose especially while reading persuasive texts helped my students to learn to evaluate the texts from the author’s perspective. Response perspective is a very powerful way to connect with the text and negotiate its meaning. Classic children’s literature like ‘The boy who cried wolf’, ‘Jack and the beanstalk’ served as springboards for rich discussions that enabled children to respond personally to the texts in a safe and supportive environment. In future, I would like to use grand conversations and reader’s theatre to explore response perspective in my classroom.
Summary To create a literate environment in my classroom, I need to understand and assess my learners. Cognitive and noncognitive assessments help me understand my students’ needs, strengths , challenges, interests and motivations. By selecting a variety of texts from genres like narrative, informational, linguistic and semiotic teachers will be providing students with a balance in the texts. This gives students skills to handle a variety of texts, especially informational texts which is essential as they move up the grades. To be effective teachers, we need to balance the literacy instruction in our classrooms with interactive, critical and response perspectives. While the interactive perspective focuses on teaching children how to read and comprehend texts, the critical and response perspectives lend a new meaning to the text by teaching students essential skills to examine and evaluate texts in multiple perspectives and by allowing children to respond personally to the text in a safe and supportive environment.
ReferencesAfflerbach, P. (2007). Understanding and using reading assessment, K–12. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2011a). Analyzing and selecting text [Videocast]. In The beginning reader, PreK–3. Baltimore, MD: Author. Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2011b). Informational text in the early years [Videocast]. In The beginning reader, PreK–3. Baltimore, MD: Author.Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009c). 13: Interactive perspective: Strategic processing [DVD]. The beginning reader, PreK–3. Baltimore, MD: Author.Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2011a). Critical perspective. [Videocast]. In The beginning reader, PreK–3. Baltimore, MD: Author.Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2011b). Perspective on literacy learning. [Videocast]. In The beginning reader, PreK–3. Baltimore, MD: Author.
ReferencesMcKenna, M. C., &Kear, D. J. (1990). Measuring attitude toward reading: A new tool for teachers. The Reading Teacher, 43(9)Probst, R. E. (1987). Transactional theory in the teaching of literature. Resources in Education, 22(12).Tompkins, G. E. (2010). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn& Bacon.