Artifact #3

The Importance of Literature in the Classroom

ED 911 Advanced Foundations of Reading

Taken: Fall 2012

ED 970 Author's Institute

Taken: 2013 Summer Session I

ED 971 Balanced Literacy in the 21st Century

Taken: Winter Intersession 2014


I have always had a love of learning. So when I first started teaching, there was a piece of me that was baffled that some students would rather choose their free time to do other things than pick up a book and read. My favorite piece of teaching is when a child discovers that one book. That book that hooks them. Recently I had been working with a child that found "that" book. He was required to explore the genre of mysteries. He knew the terminology and the general plot of what a mystery "looks" like. He found the A to Z mystery series, choose one that looked "pretty good," cracked the spine, and started to read. And he was hooked. It was that love of the story that made me feel at home. He was astonished when I showed up one day with the complete series. His eyes got so wide I thought that they were going to pop out of his head. You could see how excited he was, how eager he was to get his hands on them. That one moment is why I love teaching literature. The appreciation of a good story and a great author.

Competency 1: Knowledge of significant theories, practices, and programs for developing reading skills and reading comprehension

Reading is a skill that many take for granted as many of us use it thoughtlessly everyday. Even when we come across something that we do not know, we decode words, use context, and move on without a thought as to how or why we were able to work through the difficulty. But it is important, especially for teachers, to understand the process of reading and why many students struggle with it. Students may be having trouble with word recognition, comprehension, fluency, motivation, or have a disability that affects how thy process text. If students are not identified as having difficulty with a specific area of reading or learning, then this "issue" may be left untreated and create more learning issues as their learning progresses.

Educators must be familiar with the appropriate theories that are associated with the various reading difficulties. Along with those theories, it is important that teachers look into the research-based practices and programs that other have used and have proven useful for students. This knowledge for the teacher will better support the student's learning, as well as help develop necessary skills. We cannot take for granted that many skills that make up a reader and we must develop and nurture their learning to support their literacy skills.

Literacy skills are unique to each individual learner- what works for one student may not work for another. By educators acquiring knowledge about literacy, the process of reading and writing, and how learners learn, they are better able to assess the best way to help students succeed. They can find tools to model and implement within their classroom and foster and environment that promotes literacy success. Each student deserves the right to learn in the manner in which they can be successful.

Competency 5: Selection & use of appropriate programs, materials, and technology for reading instruction

While taking ED 911 Advanced Foundations of Reading, it was required of graduate students to research and present on various strategies, resources, and programs that were research- based in terms of instructional practices. The created presentations were based off of areas of literacy, such as fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, phonemic awareness, leveled reading programs, writing, etc. This class was a fantastic opportunity to view and sample testing and instructional strategies that other schools and educators have used and the opportunity to pick their brain on their experience with their presented materials.

There were a number of great materials presented, such as the website story starters. This website was great for students to explore different genres of writing, getting their creative juices flowing. They could create a story based off of the prompt that was presented to them. Another great website that I have utilized is Reading A to Z. This website is great for whole class instruction, small group instruction, or for individual practice. I love to use this for whole class instruction by projecting the book onto the SmartBoard and allowing all students to see the text. I can model how to look back to answer questions, highlight important information, use text features for comprehension purposes, and so much more. There is the option of reading fiction books as well as nonfiction books, and selecting which level to read certain books at. If a child is reading at a different level than his or her peers, they can reading books within the program that suit their reading level without frustrating them.

Competency 6: Knowledge of, and selection criteria for literature, and informational books for children and adolescents

One of the best classes that I have taken within my graduate studies is the author's institute. I have recommended that so many of my colleagues look into taking it because I got so much out of this one week of class. The opportunity to meet five fantastic authors and learn how they created their works of art and what influences them was truly an experience as a literacy professional that I would do over and over again. I have a special place in my library within my classroom just for those books that I got signed during the Author's Institute, so that I can show students how valuable their knowledge is to me. I get to explain how Jack Gantos wrote Joey Pigza Swallows a Key and how many times he rewrote and perfected his writing before being able to publish it. I show students how Robert Casilla illustrates a picture book by coming up with his own kind of graphic organizer and using key details from the story to create an image for the pages that they are written on. Each presentation and book that I had the chance to observe and read holds special meaning for me as a reader and as an educator and being able to share that with my students makes it all invaluable.

The best part of the Author's Institute was all of the ideas that we were asked to create at the end of each day and how we could use them in our classroom. Creating such an educational list, I was able to plan some great lessons to implement within my literacy blocks. I was able to use Jalepeno Bagels which was written by Natasha Wing but illustrated by Robert Casilla within my immigration unit, showing how each individual has unique cultural qualities from their families. I was able to use the Everest book series written by Gordon Korman to connect our nonfiction Everest unit to a great read aloud and comprehension questions. Being able to find great reading materials and learning about the process behind each one is a fantastic opportunity.

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