• Stephanie Yewdell

A trip down memory lane: Part four

Thanks to Facebook memories, I was reintroduced to my first literacy blog I created for a grad school assignment. I am going to be reposting my old posts here. They are a reminder of why I became a teacher. They are a reminder of how I developed my teaching style. They are a reminder of my pedagogical philosophy. Many of the posts I have reread, still ring true to me and are embedded in my daily practice as a teacher.

Originally Posted on I'm Making Readers & Writers For Life December 5, 2011.

"When the Stars Align"

So I have spent the semester learning how to teach students how to read and write. Did you think I that I would not take a course on how to choose what to use when teaching? It seems beneficial that I would take them side by side. I was asked to answer the question below and felt it was appropriate to share with y'all. I have spent so much time analyzing children's literature that it has impacted how I want to teach my students to learn how to love reading and writing.

How will the material you have collected, texts you have read, and information you have gathered impact your role as a future teacher selecting books for young readers. Do you see yourself as guide or gatekeeper or both when if comes to the books children read?

This maybe a bold statement, but I do not want to consider myself gatekeeper when it comes to books. I would hate to deny someone the opportunity to read. If a student independently wants to read a book that aligns strongly with their interests I would allow for them to attempt to read it. I see myself as the guide to my student, opening up their opportunities to increase their love of reading. Over the course of the semester we have been exposed to so many books and have revisited old classics and favorites. For someone like me who four months ago was the furthest thing from education focused this has been a valuable exposure and starting point to help me examine “just right texts” for my students.

While I do not want to limit my student’s choices, I know the value of finding a just right text for my student. By me spending the semester discussing and reading these books I am better able to analyze what suggestions to give my students. The just right text will be engaging and a page turner for my students, but it will also challenge their literacy development. A student who is challenged just enough will start to develop excellent comprehension skills, a wide vocabulary, fluency when manipulating texts. These just right texts are not found by turning to the back cover and finding the reading level, but by deep analyzation of the text. Using the high quality texts from a variety of genres that we have examined this semester has helped lay the foundation for the library I plan (hope) to amass (Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G.S., 2006). In an upper elementary class, I know how a picture book can be used as a tool to help introduce and supplement the materials being taught in class. A picture book with no or few words can help a child use interpretation to what the images mean and how they tell a story. It gives a young reader the creative liberty to make up the words in their own head. As a teacher it can be a great tool to teach students how to use images in a picture book to enhance the experience and meaning of a book.

I know that I have been greatly impacted by this course. I plan on spending the month off reading, and not catching up on the reality TV I thought I would be doing. I just want to sit on the couch curled up with hot cocoa and read book after book. I want to read children’s literature because I have fallen in love the voice of the child protagonist. It reminds me of my childhood. Additionally, it will help me to relate to my students. During practicum, the books my students have been reading are the books I have been reading. We have had great conversations about the characters and how we think the plot will develop. I have come to realize that a good children’s book is marketed to a child but in reality should and can be loved by all. The themes, struggles, characters, language use is the same as those I find in my “adult” novels. As I devour these books, I will be able to see if I want to bring them into my future classroom. I want to create future readers, and put the books in their hands that will keep pages turning and book logs filling up.

Not only do the books we examine influence how reading instruction will unfold in my class, it will help with writing instruction as well. Reading excellent literature helps inspire our students to be better writers. It shows them writing takes many shapes and forms. It helps to show students the conformity in certain situations as well how being creative with words can result in humorous works of fiction. Reading can enlighten students to that writing is life’s work (Caulkins, 1994) and it can be done for our whole entire life and help us provide for a family. Reading shows the writer in all us there is an audience to read our story. That audience maybe yourself, eager readers at the bookstore, or followers on the internet.

The books I have read over the semester have also given me ideas outside of pure reading instruction. If there is a topic I need to teach there is a book to use. Books will become integral parts of my social studies instruction, it will become integral in my math instruction, it will become integral in my science instruction. The power of books is insane. Why doesn’t a superhero ever use that power?

#Teaching #ChildrensLiterature #TBT

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