At the beginning of this year, I volunteered myself to take our habitat's emergent readers on. It was a challenge I really wanted, and I really needed it to prove to myself my literary abilities. It wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. I think almost everyday I initiated a conversation with our school literacy expert, gathering little tidbits of information and help where I could.
I'm feeling a little bit more confident now, and six months later I can see the progress in the children. More important than just noticing reading levels increase, I am noticing changes in their oral language, alphabet knowledge, phonics, concepts about print (that was something I had never considered before with older students!), listening, writing, the list goes on! More than that, I had taken it for granted for so long that children would know how to spell their first and last name (let alone what their last name actually was!), and would know about concepts such as beginning/end, opposites and that things had to make sense! It really has been huge learning for me.
I have been fortunate enough to extend myself through some professional development as well:
- A Ready to Read course (provided by Otago Literacy Association)
- Observation of teachers in our other habitat
- Observation at another local school in their NE-Y1 block
- Observation of our literacy leader working with my students
- In-house Teacher Meeting looking at ELPs Dimensions of Effective Practice
- Being observed with formal written feedback
The final one was a great way to finish the term and see some affirmation. It was great to see that:
- I'm doing a great job of introducing and de-bugging the book
- This children (but I think most/all) are really keen to read
- I'm encouraging correction through use of visual and meaning clues
- I step in at the appropriate time (this particular child can get quite stressed), but not too early to encourage learned helplessness
What does this mean for me now?
I need to allow the child to read on further (than I am allowing) to see if they can correct themselves and I need to show less hinting on my face.
With the guided reading coming along reasonably well, my focus for next term is working on shared reading.