By Elena Alonzo
As a teacher of 3 year old children, I am responsible of setting the reading foundation in my students in order for them to become successful readers as they grow up. I used to think that reading aloud was not that important, but oh God… how mistaken I was! After becoming a mother and taking the first couple of courses in the master program, I have learned about the benefits of reading aloud to children. I implement the reading aloud routine every day. I use my reading aloud chart, which includes: title, author, illustrator or photographer and vocabulary. First I try to select literature that it is related with our theme and also literature which students are able to identify themselves in some aspect. Through reading aloud young children can get the knowledge of books. They also learn about print concepts, such as, print is spoken words written down, letters in a word are written in certain order, and separated by spaces. Also a very good outcome of reading aloud is the building of their vocabulary. According to research, the size of a child’s vocabulary is a key predictor of reading success. I try to include three words from the story and put it in the reading aloud chart. We discuss about the words previous to reading and then during the reading I try to explain the meaning of the word. I enjoy looking at my students in the library center. After I have read a book several times, I place it in the library center for students to read. Even though they cannot decode yet, they are showing the reading behavior. They are able to hold a book correctly, they read it in the right direction (left-to-right), and they are discussing the book using the words they learned.
The introduction of new technology has changed the world drastically, but if you look into many of today’s K-12 classrooms you will see lessons, activities and room arrangements that look almost identical to what you would have seen 50 and even 100 years ago. This is a problem.
In a world of instant communication and ever-increasing ways to create and disseminate information, schools need to take a critical look at their practices. Are we preparing children for today’s reality? What about the reality of the future? New technologies aren’t eliminating the basic literacy that we’ve taught for generations, but adding to it. “Basic” literacy is now greatly expanded from what it was 100 years ago.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has created a framework for 21st century learning. In this series of blog posts, I will be sharing resources and websites that might be used to implement this learning framework. Each post will be a fairly brief introduction to a different technological tool that literacy teachers can experiment with. I encourage readers to use the comments section to add their own ideas. I know there are teachers using these resources in incredible ways!
By: Mari Contreras
I am a 2nd grade teacher in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and it was a pleasure being able to read “Friends from the Other Side / Amigos del Otro Lado” by Gloria Anzaldua to my students. The reaction of my students was the same as mine when I read the story. Many of my students were able to relate to the Prietita and Joaquin the two main characters of the story. With every page that I turned my students made a connection to the text, but especially to the illustrations. This story was about a brave young Mexican American girl who becomes good friends with a boy who crosses the Rio Grande River to Texas to live a better life with his mother. My student’s eyes wear glued to the pages and anxious for each next page. With each turn of the page they got more interested with the climax of Joaquin confronting the neighborhood boys who were being mean to him to seeing the condition of how Joaquin lived. Towards the middle until the end of the story is where all of the enjoyment of reading this story to my students happened. The student’s got very excited to see and hear my change of voice when I said “La migra!” My class got very excited and waiting in anticipation to find out if Joaquin and his mother would get caught and be taken back to Mexico. I needed to stop my reading and allow students to share their stories that they knew and some that who had experienced it. Once the discussion was done I continued and many of the students shared the same feelings as I had when we reach the end of the story. The end of the store reaches to where Prietita was ready to pick and learn how to choose the right herbs to heal her new friend’s hand that was bruised and cut from maybe his trip crossing the river or his hard work labor that he did. These were questions that my students had during and at the end of the story:
- What happened to his hands?
- How is Prietita going to make the paste to heal Joaquin’s hands?
- Did Prietita and Joaquin become best friends?
- Did Joaquin have any more trouble with the neighborhood boys?
In the end, all of these questions were good ways of my students using their schema and creative minds to add on to the story or change the ending of the story to their likely, which they all did the next day of school. They all come up with different endings that, I just had to allow them to read or discuss their drawings. Over all, this is a great book to read to children of Mexican ethnicity and those who live close to the borderlands.
My contributions to this blog have been spotty so far this semester, but expect more regular posts in the coming weeks. First of all, my students are beginning to turn in posts that I’ll be putting up soon. These will mostly be focused on children’s and young adult literature. Secondly, I’m planning to write a series of posts about technological resources for literacy teachers. I’ll try to put up at least a post a week beginning this Monday.
October 2o is the National Day on Writing! NCTE says:
Whether we call it texting, IMing, jotting a note, writing a letter, posting an email, blogging, making a video, building an electronic presentation, composing a memo, keeping a diary, or just pulling together a report, Americans are writing like never before. Recent research suggests that writing, in its many forms, has become a daily practice for millions of Americans. It may be the quintessential 21st century skill. By collecting a cross-section of everyday writing through a National Gallery of Writing, we will better understand what matters to writers today—and when writing really counts. Understanding who writes, when, how, to whom, and for what purposes will lead to production of improved resources for writers, better strategies to nurture and celebrate writers, and improved policy to support writing.
What can your school do to celebrate the National Day on Writing? How can you contribute to the National Gallery of Writing? One borderlands child wrote a piece about visiting the Donna Corn Maze. What could your students submit?
I know there are a lot of creative literacy educators in the borderlands…and a lot of creative students! Here’s an opportunity to let some of that creativity shine. Random House is having a “Ham It Up” contest to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Green Eggs and Ham. Create a video that somehow celebrates the book, post it on the Random House website, and get your school to vote for it. The video with the most votes will win $2000.00 and some other nice prizes.