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An aesthetic response is an affective response or reaction to a text. It reflects the reader's personal and emotional response based on background knowledge, attitudes, and experiences. Aesthetic responses to a text are student-initiated and will vary from reader to reader. (Adapted from Rosenblatt. The Reader, the Text, and the Poem.)
An anecdotal record documents an informal observation of what students are learning, their learning behaviors, social interactions, and academic performance. While anecdotal records may be brief recordings of single learning situations, they are most beneficial when they are gathered over time to reveal meaningful patterns that can guide the teacher's planning. (Harp and Brewer, 2000). When taking an anecdotal record, teachers should record only what they see and hear without making judgments or interpretations. Because of their informal nature, anecdotal records are often used while observing children in learning centers. These observations allow teachers to assess children's understanding of specific concepts as well as how children are using these concepts in reading and writing.
Assessment refers to specific practices that are informal, classroom-based, and reflect the curriculum and daily instructional routines. Assessments are developed and used by teachers to determine children's literacy needs and to plan appropriate instruction. Classroom assessments are authentic, multidimensional, collaborative, and ongoing. Often, teachers of young children will focus on one or two students each day to assess their literacy performance and behaviors throughout the day. Teachers assess both the process and products of learning during regular instructional times. This might include taking a Running Record during guided reading time, assessing comprehension with story retellings during class discussions, or completing a checklist for students in Writing Workshop.
The Author's Chair is a special place for students to sit as they share their finished writing with the class. This is a time to celebrate children's accomplishments and encourage peer interactions and response.
Automaticity is fast, effortless, and accurate word recognition that grows out ot repetition and practice. Automaticity does not refer to reading with expression or evidence of comprehension. Games and activities using lists of high-frequency words, personal word lists, and word walls help students develop automaticity. Automaticity allows students to concentrate more on other aspects of reading, such as comprehension. (Adapted from Armbruster, Lehr, and Osborn. Put Reading First, 22 and 24).
Background knowledge is the collection of ideas and concepts one has for a given topic or situation based on experiences and/or reading. The background knowledge of English Language Learners may differ from that of mainstream learners.
Someone who is bilingual knows two languages to different degrees and uses each language for different purposes. Someone who speaks more than two languages is referred to as "multilingual." The use of the languages can range from casual conversation to academic use.
The process of "arranging ideas to form a clear and unified impression and to create an effective message" is composition (Harris and Hodges. The Literacy Dictionary, 38). In the classrooms shown, teachers help young writers develop and write down their ideas to convey a message to an audience. Purposes for writing include describing, sharing feelings and thoughts, expressing opinions, and creating a story or narrative.
Finding and constructing meaning in a text is the reason for reading. If readers can read the words but do not understand what they are reading, they are not really reading. Comprehension comes from engaging with ideas and constructing a sense of the whole. Students who are good at monitoring their comprehension know when they understand what they read and when they do not. Research shows that instruction, even in the early grades, can help students become better at monitoring their comprehension and developing strategies to build understanding. Explicit modeling and instruction can help students be aware of what they do understand, identify what they do not understand, and use appropriate "fix-up" strategies to resolve problems in comprehension.
Teachers build students' comprehension by predicting, asking questions, helping students access background knowledge, and making connections during read-alouds, shared reading, or in guided-reading groups. (Adapted from Armbruster, Lehr, and Osborn. Put Reading First, 48-49.)
Concepts About Print
Coined by New Zealand educator Marie Clay, concepts about print (CAP) refers to what emergent readers need to understand about how printed language works and how it represents language. Successful beginning readers develop concepts about print at an early age, building on emergent literacy that starts before formal schooling.
- Print carries a message. Even when children "play read" text using pictures and memory, they demonstrate an understanding of this concept, even if they cannot read the words, or read them backwards or front to back.
- Books are organized, with a cover, title, and author, and reading in English flows in a particular and consistent direction, left to right and top to bottom. When young students successfully point to or otherwise track the print as someone reads aloud, they demonstrate their understanding of orientation and directionality.
- Printed language consists of letters, words, and sentences. Emergent readers gradually learn to distinguish between these forms, learn the concepts of "beginning" and "end," and understand punctuation that marks text (e.g., period, comma, and question mark).
- Recognition of matching or upper- and lower-case letters, as well as some common spelling sequences, are slightly more complex concepts about print mastered by more experienced beginning readers.
Concepts about print can be taught using shared reading of Big Books, enlarged charts and poems, or other kinds of engaging texts. It can also be taught through interactive writing, language experience dictations, or exploring print in the classroom environment.
Many teachers use Clay's Concepts About Print assessment tool in late kindergarten or beginning first grade to assess students' concepts about print.
An efferent response is the reader's focus on what information will be learned and remembered. It emphasizes comprehension of text information and is supported by explicit instruction in comprehension strategies. It is frequently tied to curricular goals and response activities are frequently teacher-initiated. (Adapted from Rosenblatt. The Reader, the Text, and the Poem.)
Emergent literacy refers to the young child's developing knowledge of how print works before formal instruction begins. Once referred to as "reading readiness, emergent literacy supports the understanding that young children begin to develop knowledge about and use of literacy well before formal schooling begins. Children's emergent literacy behaviors are developed as a result of early experiences with print in the home, in preschool programs, and in kindergarten. Children may enter kindergarten with a wide range of experiences with print. The basic components of emergent literacy are oral language development, concepts about print, alphabet knowledge, and phonemic awareness.
English Language Learners
An English language learner (ELL) is a student who speaks one or more languages other than English, and who is just developing proficiency in English. In the Teaching Reading workshop and library, both dual language learning and careful scaffolding of literacy experiences in English enhance ELL students' learning of oral and written English.
Evaluation requires teachers to use the evidence collected during assessments to determine levels of student achievement and progress. Evaluation usually compares student performance with some predetermined standards to measure performance and plan subsequent instruction. While assessment is ongoing, evaluation takes place during specific times in the year. Evaluation might include aggregating data from multiple assessments or administering other performance measures.
Explicit instruction is carefully planned instruction in a skill or strategy that shifts the responsibility for learning from teacher to student. Explicit instruction begins with teacher modeling, demonstration, or explanation of the skill or strategy. This is often accomplished through "think-alouds" in which the teacher demonstrates the thinking involved in using the strategy. After sufficient modeling and demonstration, students then use the strategy in the context of "guided practice," with the assistance of the teacher or other students. When students have demonstrated effective use of the strategy, they apply it flexibly in individual reading and writing. Explicit instruction is especially useful when new strategies are introduced to students and in teaching struggling readers and writers.
Flexible grouping covers a range of instructional options for instruction including whole class, small group, and independent reading. Effective instruction includes a balance of these options throughout the day to address the needs of all students.
Fluency is the ability to read text accurately and quickly. During silent reading, fluent readers recognize words automatically and group them so they can understand what they read. Fluent readers do not concentrate on decoding words. Instead they focus their attention on what the text means. In short, fluent readers recognize and comprehend words at the same time and their reading is effortless and expressive. Shared reading with the teacher and classmates, and repeated readings of text as in Readers' Theater help beginning readers develop fluency. (Adapted from Armbruster, Lehr, and Osborn. Put Reading First, 22 and 24).
Funds of Knowledge
Coined by professor and researcher Luis Moll funds of knowledge refer to those historically developed and accumulated strategies (e.g., skills, abilities, ideas, and practices) or bodies of knowledge that are essential to a household's functioning and well-being. They are the inherent cultural resources found in communities, and are grounded in the networking that communities do in order to make the best use of those resources (Conner, 2002). In their studies of bilingual literacy with Latino families in Tucson, Arizona, Moll and colleagues demonstrated the importance of communities of learners within large cultural and familial networks. They suggest that the integration of these local funds of knowledge in education forges strong links between parents, educators, and children, and the validation of this knowledge allows families to bring more to their children's education.
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