Thursday, October 23, 2008

Incorporating Reading Books and Novels into All Classroom Subjects AND Interactive Websites

I have always loved, and still love, reading, and I want to be able to incorporate them into all different types of subject areas. Books can be such a fun, motivating, and informative tools for all subjects. I want to be able to have a massive classroom library with all types of varieties and genres. I've already started collecting and I have around a hundred to one hundred and fifty books, mostly upper elementary chapter books. I'm constantly on the lookout for great nonfiction picture books, science books, biographical and autobiographical books, etc. The Busy Teacher's Website - Elementary has a variety of great lesson plan links and interactive website links, including science lessons. There is a link to the Cool Science for Curious Kids website which the Busy Teacher Website describes as"Excellent science site explores animal classification, air quality, metamorphosis, and other science topics in a graphical and easy to read format. Includes experiments. Designed by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute." The website combines reading and literature with a variety of scientific ideas. The CyberKids website has a reading room, puzzles and games, a launchpad, and a free online magazine. The Kids National Geographic website has a ton of great interactive links, and although it isn't geared toward reading and literature, it is full of exciting text for children to read and relate to real life. I also found a competition called ThinkQuest Junior that allows submission by grade of an educational website, which my future classes could create some type of reading/literature website. It could be interactive poems or stories, the possibilities for the website ideas are endless even when narrowed down to the reading genre. I just want to be able to provide a fun, fresh place to read and incorporate new ideas to get the children more excited about reading. I also searched the web for history related lesson plans that include a variety of literatures. Through that search I found a great lesson unit called Literature Circles for World Theme unit. The unit uses a wide variety of literature to meet the standards for social studies with learning about various cultures. You could follow the lesson exactly, or I would prefer to research all the countries I will be using and choose my own books, although that is a lot of work. However, I think doing it myself is better in the long run when it comes to teaching the subject matter. I'll know the subject inside and out having researched and read all the material instead of having just read an already prepared lesson plan with a select group of books. I also like the idea of personalizing it to the needs of my classroom.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Word Walls

I think the general idea of a word wall is a great idea, especially for early elementary classrooms where there is a variety of levels of emergent literacy. In fact, the grade level doesn't really matter because a word wall can be adapted to any educaional level. Word walls also have the ability to be extremely creative and to allow the students to help create the word wall itself. As a class, you can decide what kind of theme you want the word wall to have. What color do you want the background, the border, the background of the words, and the words themselves. Word walls can be used to gain general vocabulary or can be applied to specific books or units. You can create a 'name' word wall at the beginning of the year for a number of great reasons such as simply learning everyone's name in the classroom, to choose the helper of the day, disciplinary measures, etc. I definitely want to have a word wall in my classroom, and a name wall as well. I really want to come up with some creative ideas for a word wall that goes along with an unit or a book. I think that a word wall would be extremely helpful for helping students learn words from particular periods of time, cultures, and specific jargon (i.e. scientific terms). I found a website that is made by a retired California teacher who taught for thirty-two years. She has all kinds of lesson plans and ideas on her website to help teachers. She has a great link to word wall ideas with weeklt word wall ideas and a main word wall and a secondary (smaller) word wall. The idea is to put the general vocabulary building words on the main word wall and have words dealing with a certain book or subject on the secondary word wall. Also, the Teacher's Network website has explicit directions for their version of a word wall. The website gives you step-by-step directions on how to create a word wall (including specific ideas), ideas for practicing the words on the word wall, teacher guided clues to help students find a specific word, and ways to be a 'mind reader.'

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Emergent Literacy

Emergent literacy is something that I was aware of before, but on a very vague level. Now, I feel like I have a real understanding of what emergent literacy is. Children's daily life has everything to do with the knowledge that they bring with them into the classroom. Some children may not see the importance of reading and writing because it is not a part of their life until then. Some children may have evident characteristics that someone reads to them: turning the pages from left to right, pointing at the words, pointing from left to right, telling the story from the pictures, etc. These emergent literacy characteristics are vital to the way the teacher should plan the lessons around the students. Clearly not every student is going to enter into school with the same level of emergent literacy. Therefore, your lesson plans will need to be individualized to the students needs and be flexible. One way to help students who have fewer emergent literacy skills is to pair them with students that have many more emergent literacy skills. Hopefully, the child with more skills will help the other child to pick up and understand certain concepts. On the other side, the student who is helping teach will benefit as well as his or her emergent literacy skills become more concrete. Another way to help students build their emergent literacy skills is to do daily interactive readings. Other ideas that could help are singing the alphabet song, asking comprehension questions during daily readings, creating your own ending to a story, creating some kind of rhyming game with what you're reading, simply talking about what a book is and all the parts to it, etc. The ProTeacher website has some great ideas for helping create emergent literacy skills, some of the ideas above came from this website.