Paige Schadek Cole

My education up to this point has prepared me for many things but unfortunately it has not informed my understanding of early literacy skills and how to address the needs of children learning to read. As I look back on my stated goals from the beginning of this semester I realize how much I have learned about literacy by taking this course. For starters, I have begun to address some of my deficiencies and gain a greater understanding of the literacy framework K-12. I have also forged relationships with other teacher practitioners that have been invaluable for me, as they have allowed me to question, relate and share experiences working with students from all grades and walks of life. I found this course to be fulfilling on so many levels and I only hope that I will be able to retain what I learned as well as continue to grow in my knowledge.

My first stated goal for this course was as follows:
I would like to learn more about the early acquisition of reading skills to be able to understand what skills students miss before arriving in high school.

This goal has not only been addressed but was the primary focus for much of the course. The assigned readings for the modules as well as the experience of working with a diverse group of educators with experiences from the elementary grades to high school has allowed me to better understand the shifts and overall flow of literacy instruction from pre-kinder to high school. Before taking this course I had no knowledge of concepts like phonemic awareness and little understanding of phonics. I can honestly say that I still have little understanding of what phonics is but am better versed than I was. I found the course as a whole fascinating and even though I work in the secondary grades was intrigued by word identification, fluency, vocabulary acquisition, and reading comprehension. Though the focus for much of the discussion on the aforementioned concepts dealt with younger readers I saw where my own students had either mastered or where they were “tangled” as Janet Allen would say. I must point out that I always felt that the course was meaningful and helpful to me as a classroom teacher but I felt that Janet Allen’s Yellow Brick Roads was particularly relevant for my current needs. Allen’s book addressed so many of my teaching concerns and questions that I have suggested it to just about everyone in my school! My love of this book ties loosely into my second goal, which is below.

I would also like to learn more about development of reading skills such as the kinds of skills necessary to decode irony, satire, etc. as well to read for bias. I also want students to use less traditional texts like graphic novels, etc. to understand content.

Allen’s work on tangled readers and reading comprehension were very helpful to me as I thought about working with texts like graphic novels and more satirical reading selections in my classroom. I began to not only fully see the importance of how I structure and aid students in their reading of a text but how to go about it. For example, I began to use a number of Allen’s text supports and strategies in my own classroom this semester and was amazed at the difference it made in student engagement and understanding. Before this course I had not scaffolded student learning to the extent that I needed to but by learning how to help students with inference, questioning, and making meaning while they read I saw that students were not necessarily reluctant to read but needed a teacher that could make reading more accessible.