Thursday, July 16, 2009

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Article Summary: ECE Literacy New Pathways

Makin, L & Jones Diaz, C (2002) , New pathways for literacy in ECE, in L Makin & C Jones (eds), Literacies in early childhood: changing views, challenging practice, Maclennon & Petty Pty Limited, Eastgardens, pp.325-35.

The article states that two important changes in society need to influence literacy education are:

* Globalization of communications and competitive labour markets has an impact on linguistic diversity.
* Growth of technology which changes the way people can make meaning and literacy is becoming increasingly multi-modal. Increasing globalization is a factor to why bilingual education may be essential in the long term, both to survive culturally, and for people to remain competitive in the international business world.

Funding from government bodies act as:

o as a method of encouraging compliance
o linked to performance
o linked to program alignment with government directions.

Funding cuts has meant that early childhood services now find themselves under more pressure to prepare children for school literacy (book and print based) and move from child centred orientation. These skills largely ignore techno-literacy, authentic assessment and languages other than English.

* Narratives of popular culture offer a “way into” literacy, such as children who use drawing and model making, rather than words, and that if these activities are regarded primarily as design rather than as communication, then children’s literacy will be undervalued.

* Finally popular culture provide children with a lingua france through which they share other meanings about their worlds.

* A rejection by educators of popular culture merely locks out the potential exchange of ‘cultural’ and ‘social capital’ and connection to literacy beyond that which is provided at the setting.

I believe that popular culture provides many good sources and ideas in developing children’s literacy skills to think critically as well as broadly. Yet, this too entirely depends on the context of which the class the children are situated at.

The teacher in class may have many ideas in wanting to link and bring popular culture into the classroom, but if the context (school and parents) feel that it is not relevant to what they want for both the centre and the parents, the work is fruitless unless the teacher is able to advocate for what s/he wants.
Linning, L (1999), “Children’s literature: resources for literacy development ‘, in R Campbell & D Green (eds) Literacies and learners : current perspectives, Prentice Hall Australia, French Forest NSW, pp.105-10.

The article discusses the role and value of children’s literature in the literacy program, whereby it can assist in the development of literary appreciation. Printed texts in different forms can introduce children to the recurrent structures, conventions and allusions in English literature which attune to their experience, knowledge and stages of reading development.

The different modes of responding to literature vary according to the purposes and natures of the texts. They range from

* Enjoyment of language & story, understanding that print is meaningful.
* Learning to decode- beginning independent reading and practicing skills.
* Losing oneself in books-where readers read their favourite popular series and develop fluency and confidence.
* Finding oneself in books-where readers recognize characters and settings which relate to their own lives.
* Making ethical applications (Personal & social), where books stimulate readers to think about other times, places, cultures, ideas & personal circumstances, in a light hearted but perceptive way accessible to young readers.
* Wide reading- which gives readers a context for approaching and responding to texts new to them and developing their inter-textuality skills.
* Aesthetic response- where readers notice how authors use language effectively and enjoy literary criticism.

I would agree that readers respond to books in a variety of ways. Ways which are relevant to themselves in different contexts and situations. Coming from a context where bilingualism is the norm, yet fluency of mastery of a few languages is barely achievable, I believe that I would not have been able to attain the standard of fluency in English were it not my interest as a young child in reading books such as those by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl or Lucy Maud Montgomery.
These books enabled me to lose myself in the stories, as well as finding characters similar to my situation, and at the same time develop the vocabulary to express my intents and wants in ways I would not have been able to deem possible.

Literates As Social Practice (Article Summary)

Jones, Diaz, C. & Makin, L. (2002) ‘Literates as social practice’ in L. Makin & C. Jones Diaz (eds), Literates in early childhood: changing views, changing practice, Maclennon & Petty Pty Limited, Eastgardens, pp.7-13.
Literacy is defined as including talking, listening, visual literacies and critical thinking. Traditional perspectives situate literacy in the individual rather than in social worlds in which the individuals actively participate.

The focus was previously on skills on decoding meanings in paper-based texts, devoid of the social influences within which texts are constructed, as it will limit understandings about literacy and about the diverse ways in which children learn.
The 3 so called misleading misconceptions of literacy is:

* That it is a unitary object, but the fact is that literacy is not the same for everyone. It is more of how “technology is used to pursue social goals’ which is intrinsic to literacy.
* That it is neutral, and functions independently of specific social contexts, but the fact is that literacy has been made use to achieve social objectives and used to market to different contexts.
* Finally, the misconception that is responsible for high order thinking & cognitive processes, detached from other social processes, as an independent variable, but the fact is that it has to take into account the connectedness of other literacy factors, i.e. ethnicity, race, age, class, occupation, gender or geographic location.

I agree with the authors whereby literacy does not just mean knowing how to read and write, and decode words, but using it in context of the student’s environment, and context. I feel that many Malaysian as well focus too much on learning how to read and write, and neglect the importance of developing social skills where their literacy skills could be employed to communicate their needs & wants.

Literacy: Shared or Interactive Writing Teaching.

Learning activity 5.8: Develop a series of steps to teach students how to recognize and write a sentence. Consider that you would teach this during shared or interactive writing. Refer to SR 5.14: Pinnell & Fountas, page 203 for strategies to assist you.

According to Pinnell & Fountas (1998), “interactive writing is a teacher-guided group activity designed to teach children about the writing process and about how written language works.”
A series of steps to teach students how to recognize and write a sentence:

* The teacher gathers children around an easel/ blackboard/ a vertical plane on

which the teacher will be writing. All children should be able to see the writing.

* Together the teacher and children co-construct a message/text, i.e children write

word parts/whole words, teachers fill in the rest. These words for the children would be new or unfamiliar words, a challenging word, whereas the teacher will write in the simple familiar word. The reason for this is to spend more time focusing and learning the difficult word. This may take a series of days, if the sentence is a long one.

* Other ways include having word lists, word wall, name charts, referring to books

that children can refer to.

Demonstrating Writing:

* An example of interactive writing piece of work where the class students and

teacher can co-construct as part of an integrated science unit experiment incorporating other Key Learning Areas, for example a plant growing project.

The children with the teacher prior to experimenting would predict the outcomes, and the teacher would scribe down their predictions. After the experiment has been completed, the teacher and children would come together to discuss and write out their findings. Pinnell & Fountas (1998) suggests a strategy, whereby before composing, children reread some of the sentences they have written before proceeding further. They further suggest that these worksheets can be collected and be part of a big book, or it could go into the children’s individual folders for assessment.

Learning activity 5.9: Consider management issues such as size of groups, moving to next activity, behaviour, time issues and learning content of activities. Write a brief explanation describing how you would address the following:

Management issues – size and dynamics of groups, transition and rotation of groups, behaviour guidance.

Size and dynamics of groups:
To have effective management of student’s behaviour, each group should have about 6-7 children in a group in order that they could receive adequate attention from the teacher or adult who is working with them. The classroom teacher would enlist the assistance of teacher aides and parent helpers to assist in rotation learning groups. Parent helpers would help best in activities that do not require use of formal instruction or tools.

Transition and rotation of groups:
A task chart or something similar works as an effective visual behaviour management to guide to the learning centres they have been assigned to. The students would also be reminded to keep away the activities they have worked with for their rotation learning centre for the next group, and wait quietly to go into the next activity as

An egg timer is also an effective way of informing all groups that it is time for transitions. During rotations, the main teacher could also ring a bell for a similar effect. The main classroom teacher should also go from one group to another to observe how the students fare or work in each learning centre.

Behaviour Guidance:

The use of behaviour charts on the wall serves as an effective visual reminder and behaviour management tool. The teacher also reminds the students of the behaviour expected of each student together as she explains the activities being implemented for that learning centre

Literacy: Modelled Writing & Strategies

Learning activity 5.7: Read SR 5.13: Hoyt, Mooney & Parkes and describe and explain the purpose of modeled writing and strategies a teacher could use when modelling and verbalizing the ‘thinking in their head’.

The purposes of modeled writing include that students understand the similarities and differences between reading and writing, and between fiction and non-fiction.

This enables students to creatively and effectively use each type of literacy practice, irregardless whether reading or writing for a variety of purposes and with a variety of audiences.

The purposes of modeled writing include

§ Watching the teacher use phrasing in sentences or paragraphs.

§ Observations of leaving a space between each word to make it more coherent and understandable.

§ The use of correct punctuation.

§ Become familiar with the different types of genres.

§ Know that the words that a speaker says can be translated into symbols and signs and written down on the blackboard/whiteboard/ or paper.

§ Understand that words that are written down can be broken into parts and is a combination of different letters (of sounds) put together.

Strategies that a teacher can use:

§ Provide explicit and frequent models and demonstrations in shared reading and writing.

An example is the modeling of writing an invitation card to a friend for a birthday party. The teacher takes out an old invitation card and shows it to the students. She then asks the students questions about the invitation card, and lists down on a chart or the blackboard what is needed to be written down on their invitation. The students can work on creating their own invitation cards during individual work time based on these criteria.

§ Inviting and supporting dialogue about the writer’s craft during informational book read aloud.

As a continuation of work for the invitation card that the children have written, the teacher can take out an informational book such as a recipe book. She will then read out the recipe and ask the students what they require from the recipe. The teacher then scribes down on the blackboard or paper as the students state their observations. The teacher can plan for the implementation of a cooking activity based on the recipe book used during the informational book read

§ Continuing the demonstrations and dialogue with the expectancy of increased involvement and understanding during shared reading and writing.

Finally, when the making of the invitation is completed, the teacher can present in a subsequent lesson, on how the envelope can be used to send a letter and what information is needed on the envelope. For this, the teacher will show and model the children a sample of used envelopes and stamps. She will frame the questions in context of the envelope, and scribe down the children’s answers. The students can then be provided each with an envelope, or create one of their own, and write in the information on their envelopes and post it into the “classroom post box”. If there is not a classroom post box, one can be made in lieu of this unit.

§ Providing further demonstrations and increasing the expectancy of independent use during guided reading and writing.

Finally, the teacher can implement the use of journals to write down their reflections on their feelings and findings through out the implementation of this unit of work. The teacher will revise some of these terms and new words that they have acquired throughout the week, or the unit and this would be used as part of the children’s work assessment.

The use of old invitation cards, used envelopes and recipe books are real-life examples that can be presented to the children. It not only provides real life examples of the literacy practices of people in society, but it provides a pre-made genre which the children can relate to as they would have seen these as familiar objects in their own daily lives.

Literacy: Guided Reading (Year 1)

Learning Activity 5.3
A lesson overview for a Guided Reading lesson for a Year 1 class is as follows:

Before Reading: Key Learning Area/ Subject: English
Year Level: 1
1. Learning Objective: To read texts with students in Blue Group.(Beginning readers).
2. Resources: What is it? ( text for Beginning Readers).

Students are each given a copy of the book.
3. Prior Knowledge:

* Students make use of visual cues to help in their reading.
* Students have some knowledge of the animals in the pictures in the book.

The Guided Reading Lesson:
4. Introduction:

* Teacher introduces book and title of book with students.
* Teacher discusses the illustration of the cover with students

5. Body:

* Teacher points to the word and reads it.
* Students follow the reading aloud in their little books.
* Teacher asks students questions of the pictures

-What can you see from the picture?

* Teacher relates objects in the pictures to student’s life

- Where have you seen this before? What did you think of it

- What colour was it? How did it look like?

- Were you scared/happy/sad? Why were you scared/happy/sad?

- What did you do?

6. Conclusion:

- Teacher read and summarizes with the students what they have just read.

- What is this? This is a ______

- Children look at the picture and give the answers.

After Reading:7. Extension activities:

* Teacher revisits this text with children using other activities such as using cloze activities and asking children to find missing words and match.
* Teacher makes matching strips and asks children to match sentence strips to word with pictures covered.

Literacy: Modelled reading (Early Years Level)

Learning Activity 5.1:
Develop a list of suitable literature for reading to/modelled reading in the early years. Choose a variety of texts and complete the table below.


Text type/ Genre


Who sank the boat?
(Pamela Allen)

The Potato People
(Pamela Allen)

Can You Keep a Secret?
(Pamela Allen)

Bears on Wheels
(Stan and Jan Berenstain)

Sleepytime ABC

Three Billy Goats Gruff

Mrs. Wishy Washy.

Elliot the Piglet. Q2

Fiction- Picture Book

Fiction – Picture Book

Fiction- Picture Book

Fiction- Picture Book

Non-Fiction: Picture Book

Fiction- Big Book

Fiction- Big Book

Non Fiction- Picture Book

Humourous story-to develop prediction skills.

To discuss about relationships between families, grandparents.

Discusses about crowns, kings and rulers and prepositions.

Discusses about acrobatics, numbers and bicycles.

Introduces letters of the alphabet.
Introduces concepts of big, small, middle sized.
Talks about familiar animals on the farm.

Discusses about a pig who feel secluded due to his size.

Literacy: Kindergarten activity review.

Task 4: Implementation of a Finger Rhyme activity.

Lesson plan: Finger Rhyme (5 little Lady Bugs) and reading of a story.
Purpose of activity: Do a finger rhyme with children (on an insect the children are familiar with): The lady bug.

- Illustrations will give the children contextual clues to what the rhyme is trying to communicate.

- Finger Rhyme poster (5 Little Lady Bugs) by Rita Galloway.

Five Little Lady Bugs:

Five little lady bugs sitting in a tree, (hold up five fingers)
The first one said, “ I’m glad I’m me”.(wiggle thumb).
The second one said, “I feel great too”.(wiggle pointer finger).
The third one said, “How about you?” (wiggle middle finger).
The fourth one said “It’s time to fly away”. (wiggle ring finger).
The fifth one said, “We’ll talk another day”. (wiggle little finger.)

Evaluation: I shared this activity with a group of 3 year old children in a childcare centre. The children responded quite well where they showed this by following along and imitating the finger movements. I read the rhyme to them three times. The children were very familiar with ladybugs, as the classroom’s name was LadyBeetles!

I personalized the poem by adding the children’s names after holding up each finger, and the children giggled when they heard their names being mentioned.

Task 5: Evaluation of a computer learning program.

Title: JumpStart Kindergarten: Teaches Essential Skills for School.

Age Appropriateness: Good

  • Only appropriate for pre-school age children (4 years and above as per the target age group of this program).

Multi-Cultural: Good

  • Dolls: Rearrange dolls from smallest to biggest. (multi-cultural dolls )
  • Has toys and manipulatives from other cultures. A calendar that shows the different seasons and festivals, i.e, Chanukah according to the computer calendar.

Interactive: Satisfactory

  • It requires a lot of reliance on audio instructions, which may not be appropriate for deaf children.
  • Cupboard: Which has random objects on the shelves. When the cursor clicks on it, it will say the name of the object as well as the label of the object in capital letters.

Child-Friendly Functionality: Excellent

  • Only needs the mouse to work and click on the activity.

Literacy: Good

  • Chalkboard activity: A sentence will be said out and the child has to click on the corresponding pictures. The name of the object will be said out when it is clicked on and its labels will appear. Introduces names of objects with the label.
  • Rhyming: Introduces rhyming of objects in a visual manner.
  • Aquarium with a hamster: To look for hamster in the room. The hamster will give verbal instructions. Children learn to develop listening skills.
  • Introduces the letters of the alphabet
  • Matching of shapes.

Classification: Good

  • Colouring paints activity: To find the “odd man out” and then colour, or paint the pictures.
  • Outdoors: Take pictures with a camera for painting/ colouring purposes
  • Sequencing: From the smallest to the largest doll.
  • Counting skills: 1-20 (on the mat).
  • Classification skills: Extends and practices classification skills: shapes in the right box, “odd man out”,

Different modes of language: Very Good

  • Radio: Singing and dancing on the mat. Click on the pictures to start the music
  • Music: Songs from the radio as well as the letters of the alphabet which is fun, and the ABC song is something familiar to a lot of children.

Children’s Interests: Satisfactory

The activities provided are fairly interesting, but could be better.

Related links:

Literacy Tasks (2nd Year Studies: Part 2)

Letter to a Malaysian Education Publisher: Penerbitan Pelangi

Recently, I wrote a letter to a malaysian publisher, Penerbitan Pelangi. It was the 7th of July when I forwarded the email to both their Headquarters (in Johore), and Marketing Office (in Kuala Lumpur).

My Letter To Them:
My name: xxx

To: Penerbitan Pelangi

Re: "Hutan Berhantu" in- Bijak Baru 4 Text. (Haunted Forest)

I write here related to the subject above. It was brought to my attention from a Principal & Owner of a Kindergarten in Kuala Lumpur of the story above, published by Penerbitan XX in your Bijak Baca 4- "Belajar Membaca dengan Sukukata" text by Aliza Ali.

The story published in the book depicts the tale of animals in the jungle taking revenge on the wood loggers that were cutting down the trees, which were the animals home.

The story may be a fascinating one to much older readers, but in moral terms & values, it does not provide the right values that teachers should inculcate to children, as it does not teach the right way to pursue justice- which is through exacting revenge on others who have wronged us.

This is not the appropriate kind of values that should be passed on to our children, or the next generation, where everyone would 'go tit for tat', which would create a never-ending vicious cycle.

Second, I bring to your attention the picture of the "figurine with long fingernails & dark shaggy hair" on page 30 of the same text. It has come to my hearing on certain reports of numerous children having sleepless nights after looking at the drawing of the figurine in the story.

As this text is targeted towards children aged between five to six years, the publisher MUST take into consideration the psyche of the children's mental & emotional development of that stage.

The report given by the Principal was the children "had the impression that ghosts had "long fingernails and shaggy hair", and some had trouble sleeping for days.

The "Hutan Berhantu" (Haunted Forest) story is not appropriate to be included in a learning resource, which should instead be focusing on teaching & creating better strategies to pursue justice than the use of revenge.

The text should also not include stories of the supernatural, which has incited fear in the children's hearts, as has been demonstrated from the reports given. This is of utmost important to not do so, especially in the early developmental up to the teenage years, where children are at the impressionable stage, and will internalise these images. Having fearful fits is not what parents want happening to their own children.

To end this, I ask that the Publisher seriously take what has been reported, to understand that young minds are not a matter that is to be played with, as it will not only affect the children for the rest of their growing years, but ultimately the rest of their lives.


Bach. Early Childhood (Uni. SQ)
Int. Dipl. Montessori Pedagogy (UK-MCI)

Their VERY SHORT but careless reply to Me:
Dear Ms XX,
Thank you very much for your email. We will definitely take note of your comments in our future publications.
Once again, our sincerest thanks.
Yours sincerely,
Jan Giam
Penerbitan XX Sdn. Bhd
It has since been a week at the time of this writing. I am still waiting for a response.

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