Stories, Songs, and Poetry to Teach Reading and Writing: Literacy Through Language

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Portage & Main Press, 1987 - Education - 157 pages
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From the Introduction: This book is about literacy as a natural process of language acquisition. It is based upon our experiences in teaching young children. The metamorphosis of larva to butterfly is complex, even though it may appear simple to an observer. The metamorphosis of illiterate to literate is equally complex. Unlike a butterfly's development, the metamorphosis to literacy is not inevitable: The environment is not right for most children, and, of course, we are not genetically programmed to read and write. But almost all of us are genetically capable of literacy if we are raised in a truly literate environment. Dorothy Butler's Cusia and Her Books evidences this irrefutably. To learn how to read and write, to become literate, children need to be taught, and then they must practice until the acts of literacy are as natural as breathing. This book is about the necessary acts of teaching, and the demands for practice if a child is to grow into literacy in a natural way. This book is also about a teacher-controlled classroom in which the teacher assumes the professional responsibility of deciding how to teach and how to demand that each child practice. Currently teachers exercise little or no control over how they teach or how the children will practice. Classrooms are dominated by legislative accountability that results in the mandating of materials and methods, and by textbook series and workbooks built to meet either their own accountability tests or those of legislators. To develop literacy, teachers must work in ways that permit children to learn effectively; they must teach so that individualization is possible through the practices prescribed. This approach needs a professional teacher-one who knows 1: What to teach; 2: How to teach efficiently; 3: How to get out of the way as the child practices in orders to learn. Part of teaching efficiently is knowing how to assign practices through which children learn. One of the most effective practices for learning to read is the act of reading. However, children in American schools spend most of their reading time completing Ditto sheets and workbooks and very little in the act of reading itself. Studies indicate that less than 10 percent of reading time is spent in the act of reading. A second effective practice in learning to read is to reread known material. Children who have "taught" themselves to read have all spent endless hours rereading known books. Rereading known books is rarely assigned as a task for any child.

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Literacy as Natural Learning
Reading ReadinessExtending the Lap
Reading as Apprehension and Prediction
Beginning Reading from the Pocket Chart
Beginning Writing
Poetry and Song
Paragraph Writing
For Parents and Nonteachers

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