learning to "blum"

A blog about my time in the education department at Luther College.

Primary Language Arts Connections

on September 8, 2013

The chapter “Common Understandings” found in The Primary Program: Growing and Learning in the Heartland has given me much more insight as to what is important to understand about the language and development of all learners within the realm of language arts. In working toward becoming an educator, I found myself making many connections with this article that will be important for me to consider as an elementary school teacher. These connections are as follows:

1. Text to Self: The article discusses the importance of language in the early childhood years (birth to age 8). It is stated that this period is the most important for the development of literacy. As someone who is working toward an Early Childhood endorsement I have learned that much development takes place during this period. Not only are many physical changes taking place, but children are being more exposed to the world around them. As they age, they are seeing and hearing more words as well as watching and understanding more interactions that take place around them. As a teacher, I have to understand that I will need to help students develop aspects of language such as reading, writing, and spelling altogether rather than individually. They are related, and helping students to understand them must take place in a way that allows students to make connections between them.

2. Text to Self: The article also highlights several strategies that I have heard about and worked on implementing. In my Introduction to Reading course (EDUC 320), I learned about Read Alouds, Talk Alouds, and Think Alouds. One of the activities we did involved creating our own Read, Talk, and Think Alouds. For each of mine I focused on context clues and read a passage from Henry P. Baloney. This is a book about an Alien who is late to school and uses a different “language.” The clues that are given in the text, illustrations, and glossary allowed me to show how I used context clues and why they are important. Thus, I am familiar with these strategies. This caused me to wonder about the strategies listed that I had not heard of, however. I would be interested in working on my own implementation of some of these strategies to see which ones I feel I enjoy or do not enjoy.

3. Text to Self: The first quotation in this chapter really struck me. As mentioned in my previous post, I love to read. The fact that this article explains reading and writing are among the most powerful achievements in life made me smile. However, I realize that not all children have had the luxuries that I have had as a learner. It is important to note that this quote lists the responsibility of writing and reading as one to be shared between teachers, administrators, families, and communities. I am a firm believer of working together with students, their families, other teachers and administrators, and the community to help children achieve their full potential. This was a large part of my learning from my Diverse and Exceptional Learner course (EDUC 221). I found working together with those who are important to the child will help them to achieve in a way that is much more positive. A new aspect I can attach to this connection is that it is crucial not to blame one another when a child is struggling. It can be easy for the child to blame a teacher, parents to blame teachers, or even teachers to blame administrators or other teachers for a difficult time. However, when achievement and success are a shared responsibility those involved will be less likely to blame each other and more likely to come together to help the student.

4. Text to Text and Text to Self: I am all about getting to know my students as individuals. No one student is the same. Each student has their own way that they learn the best. They have different interests and come from different backgrounds. It is because of this that I could connect to the points made about assessment in language arts. The quote from Morrow about it being “apparent that one measure cannot be the main source for evaluating a child’s progress” resonated with me because of my feelings on individual learners. It highlights the fact that both informal and formal assessment are necessary. This made me think about a book we read in EDUC 221 that included various case studies about students. Students strengths and weaknesses can be overlooked if only one type of assessment is used. Different assessments are also needed in order to make sure they way in which I am teaching will be helpful to each student. With assessment, I will be able to create lessons that address each young learner. I also frequently overlook the importance of allowing children to monitor their own progress, so this was a great point for me to understand about assessment.

5. Text to Self: Finally, I really enjoyed the section on the Conditions of Learning. I could connect these ideas to the various theories we looked at in Educational Psychology as well as my learning in my Home, School, and Community class. These look at the value of working together with families and communities as well as allowing children to work toward facilitating their own learning. I learned a lot about child-centered classrooms and how learning cannot always be teacher-directed. Flexible grouping, allowing for discussion and conversation, centers, and the various other examples listed under each condition all allow for a shared responsibility of learning. I believe that these conditions of learning can be a strong foundation for me as I work toward developing my own lessons.

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