Discussing Common Texts on Literacy Instruction

In the past several weeks of class, I have developed a better understanding of different approaches to literacy instruction as a result of concepts explained in Flint’s Literate Lives, class lectures and discussions, as well as presentations on The Daily 5, The Book Whisperer, Mosaic of Thought, and Getting Beyond “I Like the Book”.  Flint laid out different literacy programs and approaches to literacy teaching which class presentations further built upon by sharing specific applications and use of various models to the classroom. The four different theories to literacy learning are identified as: (1) behaviorism, (2) psycholinguistics, (3) transactional, and (4) critical. The behaviorism theory is one I have personally observed during my work within the ESL classroom. This skills-based model focuses on guiding students to develop skills through age-level texts and phonics-oriented basals. As far as the psycholinguistics and transactional theories of literacy teaching, practices explained in The Daily 5, The Book Whisperer and Mosaic of Thought addressed the importance of whole language and reader response through comprehension and reader workshop strategies. Getting Beyond “I Like the Book” was most aligned with the critical theory to literacy teaching because it discussed developing critical thinking skills within students and fostering deeper thought and learning as a result of teachers challenging students to critically engage with and respond to the text.

In addition to these theories, we also learned about oral language learning and emergent literacy transitioning into beginning readers and writers. In Flint Chapter 2, learning about Halliday’s model of language acquisition allowed me to understand that the instrumental (language is used to meet needs), regulatory (language is used to control behavior), personal (language expresses thoughts and opinions), and interactional (language is used to form social relationships) functions of language are all aspects of language that build a foundation for literacy often times before academic teaching of reading or formal study of literature enters a child’s life. The development and use of cueing systems and phonemic awareness are two examples of the many ways learning happens through language to prepare students for literacy development. In regards to emergent literacy, the most helpful example in demonstrating the process of concepts about word, print, and phonemic awareness was watching the videos in class with Liam and the other children reading various texts and books. Our discussion on what they know and what they can do allowed me to reach the personal realization, aside from specific concepts explained in Flint Chapter 6, that emergent literacy and beginning stages of reading do not refer solely to competency and skill level but instead refer to the reader participating in the holistic process of comprehending all parts of a text and its meaning (i.e. pictures, word repetition, predictions, questions, etc).

In response to part of the reading on emergent readers, one issue that interested me that has not been directly discussed in class is the idea of concepts of screen. Flint defines this as “an assessment to determine children’s understandings of digital media” (p. 166) and explains how technology is also an area where beginning readers are interacting with texts and material that requires literacy development, decoding, and comprehension. Moving forward, I am wondering if technology literacy is a process or skill addressed explicitly within school or if it is a process teachers expect students to develop independently.

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