Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Love of Literacy

How can a teacher foster the love of literacy within a child?

I once had a student who transferred to my classroom from another school within my district. In my first interaction with him, he told me he hated reading and couldn’t read. Smiling, he said both things with a matter-of-fact attitude. This child wasn’t being difficult- he was very innocently trying to help me get to know him. Honestly I can’t remember my exact response, but I’m sure I said something like, “Of course you can read!” (This is what I always say to any student, ever, who tells me that they can’t read! After all, if you put a McDonald’s sign in front of her, won’t she likely say, “McDonald’s”? Is that not reading, in its simplest form?)  He then began to learn what we do for literacy instruction in my classroom: balanced literacy centers, explicit phonics instruction, writing workshop, and reading workshop. The keys to these models of instruction which I have chosen to implement in my classroom are independence, choice, and differentiation. One by one he learned each of our independent centers, which in summary reinforces previously taught skills at each child’s level. He began to write during the writing workshop, creating books and projects of his choice with individualized conferences to help him understand his strengths and implement the newly introduced craft or mechanic of writing. He learned spelling patterns for reading and writing, with exposure to “grade level” patterns as well as small group work with phonics at his level. He enjoyed fiction and nonfiction stories with our class, subtly absorbing comprehension and decoding skills through modeling, partnerships, and work with appropriately leveled, self-selected books in his very own book-basket.

And so, at the end of the year, this boy came to me and told me that our school was his favorite school of all. I asked him why he felt that way. His response: “Because we have so many books!” I credit his amazing transformation to the keys of literacy instruction: independence, choice, and differentiation.

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