Elementary Literacy Lessons: Cases and Commentaries from the Field

Elementary Literacy Lessons: Cases and Commentaries from the Field

Elementary Literacy Lessons: Cases and Commentaries from the Field

Elementary Literacy Lessons: Cases and Commentaries from the Field

Synopsis

Innovative and practical, this text helps prepare teachers to support the literacy learning needs of all children in grades K-6, including academically, linguistically, and culturally diverse students. It features original teaching cases written by preservice teachers enrolled in field-based reading/language arts methods courses, accompanied by commentaries written by experienced teacher educators and skilled classroom teachers. High-interest content and a reader-friendly format encourage critical and reflective thinking about topics important to effective literacy instruction. By promoting reflection about case issues, the text helps prepare future teachers to respond to teaching narratives presented on the practical applications section of the PRAXIS II, an examination required in most states for teacher licensure.

The authentic cases candidly and poignantly describe preservice teachers' plans, problems, hopes, disappointments, dilemmas, and reflective thinking as they address the multilayered complexities and ambiguities associated with learning to teach reading and language arts in elementary classrooms. These teaching stories reveal glimpses of literacy instruction and allow us to enter real classrooms and experience the wide varieties of situations that reading/language arts teachers encounter daily. Although the cases are grouped according to specific dimensions of literacy theory and pedagogy, just as in real classrooms, other issues are woven through each case as well.

The commentaries provide scholarly, and sometimes contrasting, perspectives and approaches through which readers might consider the issues presented in the cases. The commentaries represent only particular perspectives, but readers are encouraged to explore and consider as many perspectives and issues as possible regarding each case.
Each chapter includes helpful pedagogical features:

New or critical concepts and terms listed at the beginning of each chapter alert readers to what might be unfamiliar vocabulary.

Applications and Reflections pages help readers take an active part in analyzing, documenting, and talking about the particular issues portrayed in the case narratives. Using the questions on these pages, the cases and accompanying commentaries can be read and discussed as a whole class activity, in small collaborative groups, or by individuals. The questions can also be used by readers to guide their own case writing initiatives.

Margin References direct readers to correlated readings for the strategies and parallel concepts mentioned in the cases and commentaries. Suggested readings can be discussed within the format of literacy study groups.

Annotated Bibliographies at the end of each chapter help readers construct more in-depth knowledge for the instructional strategies and activities discussed in the teaching cases.

The cases, commentaries, and pedagogical features in this distinctive text provide rich opportunities for readers to discover what they need to know and how they need to think in order to teach reading and language arts effectively and successfully.

Excerpt

No textbook can ever come close to describing the real-life scenarios we encounter out in the field. We've learned firsthand about group management techniques, the importance of thorough planning, how to motivate students, ways to present reading and language arts lessons, and the problems and concerns teachers face and try to solve daily -- like how to help children who can't read or write, or what to say when a child says his father is in prison. Textbooks can never prepare us for all that we need to know.

(Preservice teacher's journal excerpt, December 1998)

Inspirations

We think this is a most unusual and practical methods textbook. Like the majority of elementary reading/language arts texts in the field, its purpose is to help prepare you to support the literacy learning needs of all students, including academically, linguistically, and culturally diverse students in Grades K-6. However, this book differs considerably from most conventional texts currently offered: It contains original teaching cases written by preservice teachers just like you, who work in field-based literacy courses. Their authentic cases candidly and poignantly describe each of their plans, problems, hopes, disappointments, dilemmas, and reflective thinking as they address the multilayered complexities and ambiguities associated with learning to teach reading and language arts in elementary classrooms.

Our work with preservice teachers in elementary schools served as an inspiration for the book, and their voices are a major part of the text. Writing in the first person, they describe their very early teaching experiences; the questions and dilemmas they encounter working with young literacy learners, special needs students, and those who are linguistically and culturally diverse; and their concerns about enhancing students' reading, writing, listening, and speaking abilities. They also confront family and environmental influences on students' literacy development, as well as individual and group management issues. Their teaching stories reveal glimpses of literacy instruction, and allow us to enter real classrooms and experience the wide varieties of situations that reading/language arts teachers encounter daily. Through their narratives we come to understand that we can neither oversimplify the intertwined processes of teaching and learning, nor overgeneralize solutions to instructional dilemmas. Moreover, most problematic teaching situations are connected to other underlying and related teaching concerns that must be identified, considered, studied, and resolved. in short, teaching is complex, fraught with ambiguities, and full of problematic situations.

Overview and features

The text is organized into 12 chapters. Each chapter begins with a listing of critical or potentially new concepts and terms to alert you to what might be unfamiliar vocabulary. We strongly support the use of the International Reading Association's The Literacy Dictionary (Harris & Hodges, 1995) as an additional aid to help you understand the concepts and terms listed.

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