Building a LiterateEnvironment Greta Giglio Walden University August 10, 2012
Getting to Know Literacy Learners Who are my students?Investigate your students’ interests,motivations, and feelings about themselvesas readers. Recent research supports the notion thatsuccessful student readers are motivated,have a positive attitude, a good self-concept,and possess the ability to make accurateattributions for their performances(Afflerbach, 2012).
How do students perceive the importance of reading?Find out how confident children are asreaders and how useful they feel reading isin their daily lives. “Current theories suggest thatself-perceived competence andtask value are majordeterminations of motivationand task engagement”(Gambrell, Palmer, Codling, & Mazzoni, 1996, p.318).
What do I assess?Get to know students (and their parents and caregivers) in apersonal way. This is essential to understanding theirmotivations, interests, and attitudes surrounding literacydevelopment.In addition to cognitive assessments that help reveal studentsacademic strengths and weaknesses, assessments that surveystudents attitudes and motivation toward reading can helpteachers plan for more effective and individualized literacyinstruction.
Knowing Your Learners Strategy in Practice Researching my student’s interests, motivations, and attitudes about reading• enabled me to choose engaging texts that peaked their interest and were motivating for each individual child.• gave me insight into their thinking, so that I could plan authentic and meaningful lessons that would help show them how literacy can play an important role in their lives.• Allowed me to choose strategies strategically with the purpose of scaffolding individual students, in order to promote the maximum student growth.
Selecting Texts Why do I need additional texts? Teachers should use information gathered in motivational surveys to supplement basal programs with additional reading materials including trade books (both fiction and non-fiction) that match student interest, giving students important opportunities to interact with text that is not provided by the basal series.Tompkins (2010) contends thatit is unrealistic to assume a basal reading series alone could constitutea complete reading program.
How do I choose these texts?Choose a variety of textsusing the literacy matrix as Being intentional aboutdescribed by Hartman the texts we choose helps(Laureate Education, Inc., to ensure a balance of2011c). This matrix helps literature in theteachers to strike a balance classroom.in the classroom betweennarrative and informationaltexts and linguistic andsemiotic texts. The matrixaddresses the level of textdifficulty as well, making itpossible to tailor lessons forindividual students andtheir diverse interests.
Is technology an important source of text?Use the internet and othertechnology to supplementcurrent reading materials,increase student “When we use the internet inmotivation, give access to our classrooms for teachingcurrent information, and to and learning, we extendgive students practice with opportunities for all studentsthe “new literacies” as to acquire [new literacy] skillsdescribed by Castek, and strategies” (Castek, etBevans-Mangelson, andGoldstone,(2006). al., 2006, p. 715). Leu, Leu and Coiro (2004) suggest that “these skills increase opportunities for all students to participate in a growing high-tech work force” (as cited in Castek, et al., pp.721-722).
“Teachers who useAre non-fiction texts fiction and nonfiction trade books together may be rewarded withimportant in the early students who are excited about learning” (Camp,years? 2000, p. 400).Use text sets (paired fiction and non-fiction textsthat explore a common element), to enrichstudents literacy experiences and to teachmultiple subjects. The strategic mix ofinformational and narrative text is an effectiveand efficient way to get students motivated,excited about learning, and thinking criticallyand responsively about text. This practice alsoprepares students for the heavy reliance oninformational text they will experience in thelater grades.
The Text Selection Strategy in Practice The strategic selecting of texts has• positively affected my ability to make strategic decisions about supplemental reading materials and how to strike a balance using the literacy matrix model.• helped me to increase student motivation and given meaning and purpose to the lessons I designed for specific students.• helped me to understand the importance of the “new literacies” and has been beneficial in facilitating student’s use of technology as a 21st century source of text and motivation.• increased my understanding of the importance of non-fiction and informational texts. These texts are instrumental in assisting even very young children in building interest and essential background knowledge where very little may exist.
Interactive Perspective: How do I teach children to be strategic processors and thinkers?Teaching students “how to be literate learners who cannavigate the textual world independently” (LaureateEducation, Inc., 2011d) is the ultimate goal of literacyinstruction. Strickland (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011d) states thatliteracy is cultivated and nurtured by responsive adults. Thisstatement is at the heart of the interactive perspective.Teachers must scaffold students in their attempts to read and writeaccurately, fluently, and with comprehension by usinginstructional methods such as guided reading, that address thosestudents individual cognitive and affective needs and help them tobecome metacognitive thinkers as well as independent, skilledusers of an assortment of reading strategies.
How can I support the interactive perspective?Scaffold students in their attemptto read and write accurately,fluently, and with comprehensionby using instructional methodssuch as guided reading, thataddress those students needs andhelp them to become “I thought about it and I think thatmetacognitive thinkers and since snakes are cold blooded, itindependent users of reading would be easier to catch one in thestrategies and skills. winter, because it would be slower!”Afflerbach, Pearson, and Paris (2010) report that guided reading “provide[s] opportunities for teachers to assess students’ strategies” (p. 371).
How does guided reading support students metacognitive and independent use of strategies?There are many effective, research basedstrategies that can be used to help studentsbecome critical thinkers, including teachers useof higher order thinking questions, think-a-louds,read-a-louds, guided reading, and graphicorganizers. The strategies that I have found tobe most helpful are guided reading and graphicorganizers. Guided reading requires students toread texts at their instructional level on theirown in a small group. This method scaffolds studentsas they try out strategies independently while theteacher is there to support their efforts andmonitor independent use of specific strategies and skills.
How do I monitor students as they interact with the text?It is not enough to simply teach strategies,but teachers must assess whether thestudents are able to use those strategiesappropriately and independently. Alongwith questioning and informal observation,the use of graphic organizers such asThinking Maps (Hyerle & Yeager, 2007)can facilitate students metacognitive growthas they explain their thinking out loud. Tompkins (2011) contends that it is importantfor students to be metacognitive, explainingtheir thinking during or after reading in orderfor teachers to be able to get an insight intowhat is going on inside their heads.
The Interactive Strategy in Practice Teaching with the interactive perspective in mind has taught me that• teachers need to be strategic as they select texts that will motivate their students in a meaningful way and are at the students appropriate difficulty level.• students need opportunities to practice specific skills and strategies in context so that they become automatic and fluent in their use.• teachers must guide students to be metacognitive about the strategies that they choose while becoming more fluent readers who are able to understand and the whole of what they read.• teachers need to develop a variety of assessment methods in order to find out what their students comprehend about what they read and how they know they know it, as well as to use for planning of future instruction to address areas of need.
The Critical and Responsive PerspectivesHow do I teach children to be critical thinkers and responders to text in a meaningful way? Choose teaching techniques that help unlock students ability to see text in a unique way; using student’s background knowledge as a foundation upon which to build understanding. Give students the opportunity to make judgments about the author’s purpose and to think about and evaluate the text in a critical manner. Almasi (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011b) describes student’s interaction with text at this level as a transaction” between reader and text in which the text, as well as the reader, are marked by the experience in such a way that both are permanently transformed by the event., like clay billiard balls that collide are changed forever.
How can I facilitate student’s transaction with the text?The very effective subtext strategy (Clyde, 2003) helpsstudents step inside a character in the text, feel what theyfeel, say what they would say, and articulate aloud thethoughts of a given character, thus revealing student’s under-standing of the story and making it possible for them to thinkmore critically and responsively about the text. Through thisstrategy, students are given an authentic opportunity toexplore the text and the author’s purpose in telling the story. Clyde (2003) reveals that, “Drama activities help transform school from a place where wetell students what to think to a place wherewe help them experience thinking” (p. 152).After playing Ruby Bridges, one student remarked, “When I was beingRuby, I felt like I was her, and I didn’t like people yelling at me. I wantedthem to stop but, I couldn’t do anything. I was kind of mad and scared.”
How can I support the critical and responsive perspectives?Teach students to read to determine the authors purpose.“When children are encouraged to read analytically, they uncover hidden values in the stories they read” (Lamme, as cited in Durand, Howell, Schumacher, Sutton, 2008, p. 24). Explore key vocabulary in order to help students make sense of a text and use metacognitive strategies like graphic organizers to scaffold students efforts to do so.
How can I support the critical and responsive perspectives?Use the read-a-loud and think-a-loud strategies to modelcognitive strategies and ask a variety of higher level questions. “Read-a-louds give students a vehicle for talking andthinking about the literature and helps students bring theirown meaning to the text”(Newton, Stegemeire,& Padak, ascited in Durand, et. al., 2008, p. 25). “Substantial evidence indicates that teacher questioning canplay a key role in enhancing student comprehension”(Stahl, 2004, p. 599). “What is the author trying to tell ushere?”
How can I support the critical and responsive perspectives?Use reading logs to record students’ responses toliterature in writing, as a source of reference, and tobuild schema about a theme. Vacca (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011e) reminds usthat writing helps us learn more about what we readand offers students a unique interpretation of thetext.Use strategies like think-pair-share to getstudents thinking critically about the textand talking about their feelings withothers.
The Critical and Response Perspective Strategy in Practice Teaching with the critical and response perspective has required me to• choose socially and culturally provocative literature that provides an opportunity to think critically about a topic and that evokes a strong response.• ask well thought out probing questions that require students to use cognitive and metacognitive skills.• consider students schema and help them build background knowledge about the text and the vocabulary involved.• use and teach strategies such as subtext, think-pair- share, read-a-loud, think-a-loud, and reading logs in order to get students to think deeply and critically about the text and to respond to it in a personal way.
Summary Three essential instructional components prove vital in teaching students to think metacognitively, critically, and affectively about text that teachers need to keep in mind when planning for instruction:1. Know your students and develop assessments to help you do that.2. Be able to select a variety of quality literature based on what you have learned about your students academically as well as non- cognitively.3. Teach with the interactive, critical, and responsive perspectives in mind, so that students are taught to think deeply, analyze, judge, and respond to text in a meaningful and authentic way. “Teachers therefore do not lead classes carefully along to foreseen conclusions, sustained by critical authority, about literary works. Instead, they face the difficult but interesting task of acknowledging the differences, and crafting out of that material, significant discussion” (Probst, 1987, p. 2).
References• Afflerbach, P. (2012). Understanding and using reading assessment, K–12 (2nd ed). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.• Afflerbach, P., Pearson, P. D., & Paris, S. G. (2008). Clarifying differences between reading skills and reading strategies. Reading Teacher, 61(5), 364–373.• Bridges, R. (2003). Ruby Bridges goes to school: my true story. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.• Camp, D. (2000). It takes two: teaching with twin texts. The Reading Teacher, 53(5), 400-409.• Castek, J., Bevans-Mangelson, J., & Goldstone, B. (2006). Reading adventures online: Five ways to introduce the new literacies of the Internet through childrens literature. The Reading Teacher, 59(7), 714–728.• Clyde, J. A. (2003). Stepping inside the story world: The subtext strategy—a tool for connecting and comprehending. The Reading Teacher, 57(2), 150–160.• Durand, C., Howell, R., Schumacher, L. A., & Sutton, J. (2008). Using interactive read-alouds and reader response to shape students concept of care. Illinois Reading Council Journal, 36(1), 22–29.• Gambrell, L. B., Palmer, B. M., Codling, R. M., & Mazzoni, S. A. (1996). Assessing motivation to read. The ReadingTeacher, 49(7), 518--533.• Hyerle, D., & Yeager, C., (2007). Thinking Maps: A language for learning. Retrieved from http://www.thinkingmaps.com
References, cont.• Tompkins, G. E. (2010). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.• LaLaureate Education, Inc. (Almasi, J.) (2011a). Critical perspective. [DVD]. The Beginning Reader. Baltimore, MD: Almasi.• Laureate Education, Inc. (Almasi, J.) (2011b). Responsive perspective. [DVD]. The Beginning Reader. Baltimore, MD: Almasi.• Laureate Education, Inc. (Hartman, D., & Almasi, J.) (2011c). Analyzing and selecting text. [DVD]. The Beginning Reader. Baltimore, MD: Hartman & Almasi.• Laureate Education, Inc. (Strickland, D.) (2011d). Perspectives on Early Literacy. [DVD]. The Beginning Reader. Baltimore, MD: Strickland.• Laureate Education, Inc. (Vacca, R.) (2011e). Responsive perspective: reading- writing connection. [DVD]. The Beginning Reader. Baltimore, MD: Almasi.• Probst, R. E. (1987). Transactional theory in the teaching of literature. Resources in Education, 22(12).• Stahl, K. (2004). Proof, practice, and promise: comprehension strategy instruction in the primary grades. International Reading Association, 57(7), 598-609.