Young Researchers: Informational Reading and Writing in the Early and Primary Years

Young Researchers: Informational Reading and Writing in the Early and Primary Years

Young Researchers: Informational Reading and Writing in the Early and Primary Years

Young Researchers: Informational Reading and Writing in the Early and Primary Years

Synopsis

Informational kinds of reading and writing are crucial in every lesson. This text looks at how we can encourage children from the very beginning to think of themselves as young researchers using skills and strategies for clear purposes.

Excerpt

Helping children both to benefit from and enjoy informational reading and writing is a considerable challenge for any practising teacher. We do not want children trapped in tightly structured and essentially sterile learning processes. Rather we want them to become avid and curious readers, intent on finding out, and confident writers, practised in communicating understanding and meaning. If teachers can achieve this in the primary years they will have laid the foundations for a successful transition to the information-based learning of the secondary years and for a lifetime in which there will always be a need to acquire knowledge and skills.

In building these foundations, teachers need to introduce children to the whole range of sources of information from traditional books and journals to material published on CD-ROM and available on the Internet. Children also need to be taught library and study skills but we must remember these are only tools that serve bigger purposes and intentions. The challenge is to teach children to take control over their learning by acting as young researchers formulating worthwhile and insightful questions to take to the mass of material now available. They will then be in the driving seat when it comes to their own writing, not merely mechanical reproducers of other people’s words but writing powerfully from within themselves, using the knowledge that they have obtained and assimilated.

Being in control is possible from the earliest stages. The nursery children learning about the topic ‘Babies’ (Chapter 2) were helped to look at the books and pictures to find out what babies eat and how they are cared for. But the teacher managed to create a learning context where they had not just acquired bits of information but became fascinated by the whole process of growth and development and their own stage within it. Heart, mind and imagination are involved in genuine learning. The Year 5 children studying ‘The Tudors’ bring their feelings as well as their intellect to their studies when they examine a sailor’s shoe, raised from the Mary Rose and showing where the leather has been stretched and worn by the shape of the foot. As one of them remarked: ‘This makes you realise they were real people that drowned using real things.’

This book addresses teachers, student teachers and all who are interested

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