Thursday, July 26, 2012

Learning To Read is Not a Race


Children must be taught to read sequentially, using developmentally appropriate means.

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I've seen a lot of hubbub lately touting the teaching of reading at an increasingly early age. First, there was a commercial for a program claiming it could teach your baby to read. Then, I saw an ad for a school whose biggest selling point (according to the ad) was that their school can have your child reading before kindergarten. Apparently, learning to read has become some sort of derby and the children who are ridden there the fastest are the winners. And with the pressure to push academia on our children ever and ever earlier, I can't help but think that this is a pretty damaging attitude to have.

Learning to read is not a race. And the fact is, I could tell you right now how you can teach your baby or toddler to read,  but it won't make your child a life-long reader. This is what anybody who wants to push excessively early reading on your child is trying to sell you: flash cards.  It is a fact that a child can become a reader by memorizing words (teach your child to remember 100 common words such as the, like, and, and and they will appear to be a reader). Now, memorizing common words is important--the most common words in the English language are generally not easily decodable--but there are foundational skills that need to be in place for a child to be a successful reader, and if we push them to the end result to quickly without making sure the necessary skills are in place, there will be problems later on.

In fact, there is something known as the fourth grade slump (sometimes the third grade slump) in which children who were successful academically suddenly encounter problems in third or fourth grade where they are suddenly required to read to learn, instead of being required to learn to read. Children who do not have foundational reading skills will flounder at this requirement because they were shunted off quickly into the skill of reading without being taught how to be a reader.

Because of this, we should be more concerned with reading processes than the reading product. It's not about who's child reads first, it's about laying a good foundation for third grade content reading.  This is the strategy in Finland, where the literacy rate is higher than in the U.S. And we need to be aware that these foundational skills need time to develop. Some children are ready to read at 3 and some children aren't ready until they are 7. Learning to read is a kindergarten through third grade skill.


So if we shouldn't be trying to get our kids reading and reading quickly, then what should we be doing? The focus in the early childhood years should really be on oral language, not written language. In order to be, not just children who can read, but successful readers, children need to be masters of the spoken word. They should talk, they should ask questions, they should play games with the sounds of language, they should listen to rhymes, and they should play. Because learning to read may be challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, frustrating, exciting, daunting, invigorating, and a great many other things. But there is one thing that learning to read is not.

It's not a race.




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Learning Center Signs: Dress up the classroom & inform the observer!


Well the organization of my new classroom is coming along after weeks of pushing, pulling, unboxing, cleaning, and on and on.

I am about a week away from sharing some pictures! I have made some new center signs for my brand new start. I plan to mount each on construction paper, laminate and place prominently at the centers. If you are interested, they are now available at our online stores. Simply click on the link below.



ABC CenterArt CenterBlock CenterConstruction CenterComputer CenterDramatic Play CenterLibrary CenterListening CenterLiteracy CenterMath CenterMimio CenterMusic CenterOverhead CenterPocket Chart CenterPoetry CenterPhonics CenterPuzzle CenterReading CenterScience CenterSensory CenterSmartboard CenterSocial Studies CenterTechnology CenterWord Work CenterWriting Center



Friday, July 13, 2012

The Importance of Play


I'm in the process of getting ready for school to begin (because I'm starting to have nightmares about not being ready) and I took a field trip to the Alpine Surplus Warehouse. A wonderful place where teachers in our district send the thing they are no longer using for other teachers to snag (or for the district to sell). Sometimes you can find wonderful treasures there: like this student microscope. I tried it out with my three year old. We put a bug on it and it worked beautifully! We magnified the bugs multifaceted eyes and hairy body. I can't wait to put it in the science center!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes: Thematic Common Core Curriculum Essentials






This unit, Nursery Rhymes, is strategically linked to the Common Core Standards. It is divided into areas of literature, music, art, literacy, math, worksheets, science, creative writing, word wall, and guided reading. The activities are clearly written, easy to use, and need limited amounts of preparation. The lessons (games or activities) included are scripted. They are written in a format that can be easily taught by the teacher or readily handed off to a parent volunteer or a classroom aide with complete confidence that objectives of the lesson will be reached. 
Table of Contents:
Shared Reading Activities
Mother Goose Rhymes: Saying or Singing Nursery Rhymes
Nursery Rhymes: Sequencing Nursery Rhymes
Hey Diddle Diddle Pocket Chart Activity 
Scripted Literacy Lessons With Independent Options:
Mother Goose Mix-up: Building Working Memory
Humpty Dumpty Rhymes: Matching Rhymes
Blind Mice Chase: Identifying Letters
Mary Goes To School: Using Preposition Words
Independent Activities
Mary’s Letters: Tracing Letters A-Z
Little Lost Lambs: Hunting For Alphabet Letters
Scripted Math Lessons With Independent Options:
Little Bo Peep’s Sheep: Counting Objects to Match Numbers
Under The Haystack: Identifying Shapes
Nursery Rhyme Patterns: Naming and Creating Patterns 
Independent Activities
Hey Diddle Diddle Numbers: Identifying Number Names
Nursery Rhyme Puzzles: Developing Spatial Reasoning Skills
Fetch The Pail: Counting & Writing Numbers
Songs/Fingerplays
Humpty Dumpty
Three Blind Mice
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Little Bo Peep
Little Boy Blue
The Fly & The Bumblebee
Little Miss Muffet
Art Projects
Mary’s Schoolhouse: Construction Project
Mary’s School Portfolio Sample
Humpty Dumpty on a Wall
Writing
Hey Diddle Diddle Prewriting Practice 
My Favorite Nursery Rhyme
Science
Insects & Spiders: Making Comparisons
Guided Reading Books
Mother Goose Land
Class Made Books
Mother Goose Rhymes