Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ALEA Conference

On the weekend I attended the ALEA Conference for Literacy and Numeracy Week. I try to get there every year as I find it so inspiring. When I walk away I have a whole new set of things to try out and absorb into my teacher toolkit.

Recently I have been trying to use author studies and commercial picture books to teach my English content. In previous years, my focus has been more on the use of Reading Scheme materials. I have felt really excited about teaching through commercial picture books, but have been a bit worried about the lack of reading on the part of my students – generally I have been reading to them, as the writing in the book has been too small for the kids to read along.

At the conference on the weekend, we thought through a few options for overcoming this hiccup. I’ve decided I can scan or photograph the pages and display them on the Smart Board for the class to read along with. I also popped into my school library and found multiple copies of some of the titles I am interested in. This means I can use these texts for guided reading rather than being limited to reading scheme materials.

I was also challenged to give more specific feedback to my students, and to ensure that writing tasks that I set have a purpose and an audience. So…this week I got my class to design posters to remind students to respect our classroom environment, and a booklet on respecting others for students to read when they are sent to the thinking spot.

I found some great books I’d like to use later on: “Zen Ties” by Jon J Muth, “Woolbur” by Leslie Helakoski, and “Sunday Chutney” by Aaron Blabey. I’m thinking that I will use “Sunday Chutney” to help students consider what it feels like for the new kid at school and as a lead in to students writing letters for the new student who arrives.

I’m excited about all the possibilities with the use of quality children’s literature and am now looking with fresh sight at children’s picture books.

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