To Read or Write: What’s important?
Over the past three weeks I have been teaching reading at the BVU summer reading program. I finally was able to get a taste of what teaching really looks like and feels like. I taught two groups of children. My first group were children ranging from 5-7 years and were going into the K-2nd grades. My second group were students going into the 3rd-5th grades. It was such an amazing experiences for me to be able to create lessons and teach students who all had different learning needs, abilities and styles of learning. It was awesome to see that my kids were engaged and enthusiastic learners. And each of them had unique perspectives which brought something fresh to the discussions. I really wanted them to take as much information and knowledge home with them as they could. Yet, at the same time I wanted to extend their vocabulary and get them to think at the next level (while having fun). This made me consider the Common Core State Standards and how little focus is put on writing to create and writing to think. In my opinion reading and writing provide an positive effect on learning. To understand one, you must be able understand the other. So, I incorporated an abundance of writing into my lessons plans. I also created my own work for kids to learn from (see below for example) I even wrote a short story for my K-2 group to read together then illustrate it (by drawing a specific thing for ex; Harry the Lionfish). I wanted to teach and model for my students the importance and creative energy that one can put into a piece of writing, and have them connect this to their reading. While teaching and making meaning of what is read.
I developed a lesson plan for my older group titled, “In the Wake Of Disaster”.
The standards in this lesson were as follows:
RL.3.1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
RL.3.3. Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
RL.3.6. Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
RL.4.1. Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
RL.4.3. Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
While researching poems to have students read for this lesson I found that the many I found online were lacking the ingredients I was looking for. Some told the reader everything (readers should think and inquire with poetry). Some were just inappropriate for students. I wanted my group to understand how words contribute to the emotion and conflict within a poem. So, I created my own. Thus, modeling and encouraging writing to my students. The piece that I created for this lesson:
Cereal Box House
I remember that little cereal box house near the canal
Where my sister Mary and I used to hopscotch,
And eat our popsicles after the sun melted them upon our fingertips.
Leaving us with nothing but a stick between our fingers,
Sticky sweet tongues and faces covered in purple and red.
Our clothes moth eaten and our shoes full of holes.
We didn’t have nuthin.
Knew nuthin about money or education.
But we loved each other so.
Our mama worked hard.
Well, he was gone before Mary.
I remember the smell of the water,
The smell of mama’s sweat,
And the taste of her salty tears.
I remember when the skies cried war.
Old Crazy Lady Maybel
Come crying crying’ crying’ cryin’ at our door,
Yelling that the skies are crying war.
But we didn’t have nuthin’.
Only arms to hold.
As that angry wind tore through our little cereal box house,
It left me with one small Popsicle stick remnant in my hand.
Taking with it Little Sweet Mary.
Who knew not how to swim.
I remember mama crying,
And the taste of the oceans salt on my lips.
The day the skies cried war.