In the following discussion I will draw on tutorial tasks 'A' and 'B' and further readings, as I reflect on the knowledge I have gained from my work and the work of others in this subject. The topics, such as 'Language and Literacy in the Classroom' and 'how children can be supported with their Language and Literacy Development' are of great interest to me. Therefore I will reflect on new knowledge I have gained about these topics when sharing with peers and ideas I already had that have now been reaffirmed. For most children, the classroom is the first environment for formal literacy learning, where reading and writing are generally presented as a set of de contextualized discrete skills to be mastered separately from content in other curricular areas. Language and Literacy used in the classroom by teachers and students determines what is learned and how learning takes place. The classroom is a unique context for learning and exerts a profound effect on students' development of language and literacy skills, particularly in the early years.
The classroom must be a place where the children feel comfortable. (Surman. L, 2003) Teachers need to be open-minded as they open their classroom to many different students. We don't all follow the same religions or cultures. We don't all dress the same or wear the same size clothes. We aren't all fabulous readers or writers, and many children struggle with spelling or co-ordination with sport.
The teacher must learn as much as they possibly can about the children in their class and therefore work within each child's ability level and learning style, even if this means different activities for different children for language and literacy in the classroom to be efficient. (Allamby. L, 2003), The traditional view of literacy is that it begins when children start school and are "ready" to learn to read and write. The notion of emergent literacy, in contrast, holds that children acquire knowledge about relationships among oral language, reading, and writing before entering school (Morrow & Smith, 1990). Learning to read and write is not a matter of readiness, but is integrated with and naturally embedded in the many routine social interactions with literate individuals that children experience from infancy onward (Stallman & Pearson, 1990).
A compelling example of how many young children are taught a literate perspective, even before they learn to read, is found in adults reading aloud to them. Young children are exposed to the forms and formats of literacy as they participate in such book readings; they experience increasingly complex meanings of language, acquire some familiarity with letter shapes and names, and some may even discover on their own that words consist of small sound segments (phonemes), which, in print, are represented by letters (Kami & Cats, 1999). Interaction and communication within the classroom may be difficult if there are cultural differences and no understandings of these on behalf of both teacher and student (Campbell, R. & Green, D, 2003, p 19) The literacy level and the way children act, their beliefs and values, are all reflecting upbringing. This may be their family, peers and the environment around them. I think that this is an interesting point because as I reflect on my experiences completing 6 months volunteer work as a teacher in a primary school I could see the differences of each child and the levels that they were at. (Allamby.
L, 2003), Language is not only a set of cognitive skills but behaviors that may take place in different contexts these are known as discourses. When a child is put into a classroom, discourse may be an issue. The child may not feel socially accepted into a group. If they are part of a group, the group may be shaping the learning of this particular child. If I reflect back on my younger sister's high school days, I remember that she was always friends with the girls and boys that weren't interested in doing their work in class and were the loud attention seekers in the classroom. I believed that this had an effect upon her learning.
When she had work to do at home, her work was at high standard. We knew she was intelligent enough, though at school she didn't get time to complete work and struggled at times. This was a peer pressure example that ties in with being part of a 'group'. (Allamby.
L, 2003) Learning may be a two-way experiment. According to what we have revealed in tutorial discussions, many of us have got a parent or family member who is a teacher. This leads me to discuss 'insiders and outsiders'. Children who have parents within the school system seem to feel that when they begun school they were insiders.
They understood the system, and were engaged with it before actually attending school for the first time. These children were well prepared before beginning school, as they knew what was ahead for them. Outsiders may be the children who weren't ever socially accepted at school or felt that they couldn't keep up with others. (Surman. L, 2003) When discussing in tutorial classes what language and literacy in the classroom is I have learnt that it is not only about the ability to read and write. It is socially and culturally constructed, meaning that it is determined on the people using language and literacy and the context in which they are using it.
Language and literacy is a lifetime of learning (Christie. F, 1995). As I reflect back on one of my younger brothers earliest language learning experiences, I remember that his first and only word for several months was 'up'. He knew that when he said this Mum or Dad would pick him up and cuddle him. This word showed his need for affection when he desired it.
Language and literacy within the classroom must be supported for learning to occur. I believe in two main approaches to classroom learning, the general classroom environment and the curriculum. The study environment includes organization, content, technology and classroom climate and management. Language, literacy and the curriculum include reading, writing instruction, oral language use, cultural sensitivity and assessment approaches. Supporting these parts of the curriculum is important for learning to take place. (Own thoughts taken from journal of practicum 2003) From just completing a 2-week period of teaching rounds I have gained important insights into how classrooms support children's learning.
Ms Jarvie of Karin gal Primary School supports her grade 5/6 class's learning throughout the day using varied vocabulary, challenging them to think, and stimulating their curiosity and imaginations. Teachers like Ms Jarvie need to be conscious of the important role that children play in supporting each other's language development. The classroom was set up accordingly so that all the tables were facing one another in 5 separate groups, this encouraged group work, discussion and friendships. (Journal from practicum) Children form different beliefs about language and literacy. Depending on the child, their own world may be filled with literature, television, technology, peer relationships, interactions with adults and siblings, art, music and play. These are all resources that may promote the child's own learning and understandings of literacy.
(Beecher, B & Arthur, L, 2001) Within tutorial classes we have been discussing Cambourne's conditions of learning. Immersion is one of the conditions, it's when young children need to be surrounded by an environment that is rich in spoken and written language. This may be their classroom and home environments and the people around them. Children need opportunities to observe models of the way written language is used in daily life. This is what Cambourne sees as demonstration. The teacher has a big role in this condition to support the children's learning of language and literacy.
Young children need opportunities to try reading and writing activities on their own. This is Engagement. (Campbell, R. & Green, D. 2003) Expectation is where children need to be in an environment where adults believe that they will acquire literacy skills. The teacher usually has some form of expectation of their students, as they are the one who judges their ability. Children must use reading and writing skills throughout their daily lives.
Use is another condition; once the child has learnt something new they must then put it to practice. Young children should be free to make attempts at written language that move closer and closer to conventional reading and writing. This is said to be Approximation. The child will learn from his or her mistakes.
Response is usually from either a teacher or older figure. Children need to receive feedback from knowledgeable people on their attempts a reading and writing. Cambourne's conditions support the learning of language and literacy for children in and out of the classroom. (Campbell, R. & Green, D. 2003) Childhood learning descriptors were reflected upon during tutorial class discussions.
These too related back to Cambourne's conditions of learning. I know that for me I was given no harsh expectations in the home environment when it came to schoolwork. I was given time to make approximations (guesses), these were praised for trying and then corrected and I was given another chance. Trying my best was all that was expected of me at home.
At school things were different, a more formal environment. School was based upon building on prior learning, which usually occurs at home. At school there was rights and wrongs, ticks and crosses. Approximations were seen as incorrect.
Though school does support the learning of language and literacy, with many different resources that you may not find at home that promote learning. From fine to gross motor skills, math, music, co-ordination, sport, the arts, language and literacy. Equipment to enhance development, such as: computers, art room, sports hall, books and many other sources for growth and learning. Another school has been set up in northern Italy as an educational project.
Reggio Emilia, the system of municipal early childhood development. Together the teachers and the parent's plan out what is to happen within the classroom, they work heavily together on their children's curriculum. The environment and its aesthetics are used as another teaching force. From lectures and tutorial discussions it is my understandings that the children are learning more about themselves as a person. Through creativity, play, communication and a free to roam environment the children's learning is dependent upon themselves, as they are trusted to do things that any other child of their age would not be in control of. They asses their own abilities at many different tasks, they have so many resources right at their finger tips, as the children choose what they want to work on in class.
As said earlier, children learn at different levels and paces, tis school may be the key to support different children and their particular talents. Reggio Emilia sees the children as a protagonist, a collaborator and a communicator. Children are strong, rich and capable. All children have the potential and interest in constructing their own learning. (Cadwell, L. B, 1997) The work of Vygotsky has received increasing attention over the last few years. It too supports learning of the young child.
Of most interest has been his concept of the "Zone of Proximal Development", or ZED. This concept is actually fairly simple, but putting it to use in the classroom requires a good deal of knowledge about how development occurs. Essentially, the concept is this: What a child can do with help today, he can do independently tomorrow. In other words, a student can perform a task under adult guidance or with peer collaboration that could not be achieved alone. The Zone of Proximal Development bridges that gap between what is known, and what can be known. Vygotsky claimed that learning occurred in this zone.
Where the child already is (that's too easy nothing is to be learnt) and the point where the child finds it too hard to complete independently is where the zone falls between these two that's "just right". This is the zone where the child knows enough so that she can learn with the help of someone more advanced who can explain things in terms the child can understand, but not so much that she could do it by herself. This is the zone, where true learning occurs; it is the zone of proximal development. (Vygotsky, L. S, 1978). Language and literacy is a social practice. Many resources, people, environments and approaches may support the learning and influence the language development of the child.