By Dr. Kamshia Childs | Categories Challenges | Choices | Diversity | Early Childhood | Engagement - Family | Inclusion | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Opportunity Gap | Social Emotional Learning | October 15, 2021

Opportunities to sharpen our literacy skills are all around us. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons (lack of support/resources at home, irrelevant curriculum, etc.) students can often be disengaged with literacy learning early in life. Once that foundation is shaken, it is tough to rebuild and instill the skills, confidence, and attitude necessary to be successful in the journey to be literate.

There is a huge disconnect.   However, our students explore language everyday—we must make them aware of it, and show them how their knowledge and informal language is not too far distant from the formal academic knowledge required in today’s classrooms. Teachers and the outside learning community can instill a love for literacy if they focus on clarity of learning, opportunity, value, and enhancement of lessons. With “L.O.V.E.” teachers, parents and students can get students to see the relevancy of literacy skills beyond their use for academic purposes.

 

What is L.O.V.E.?

Learning- Many parents lack knowledge in the academic skills required of today’s students as it relates to literacy.  Educators often teach skills in isolation or at a “surface” level.  Parents and teachers often times try to spark the passion of literacy learning too late for some students and not early enough for others.  It boils downs to “do you know the basic skills that your students (or children) need to learn?” Literacy learning must include a combination of motivation and innovative repetition of skills.  Learning should always be a chance to fine-tune knowledge. The challenge, is that it must be done in a manner than resonates with students (and parents in order to be able to support). Most important, learning should contain a variety of opportunities to explore concepts- new and old.

 

Opportunity- Students need the opportunity to transcend and explore the world and their surroundings. A strong literacy foundation promotes exposure to additional opportunities in education.  A literate child is given the opportunity to be exposed to creative works, and is capable of producing and using their skillset to work in many different subjects and tasks. The improvement of literacy skills is always presents a learning opportunity (as literacy learning is truly complex).  When building a literacy foundation, we should be in search of learning opportunities and resources that are simple to implement and put into practice.  Improving student literacy and the process of “why” we read, write, and communicate is a learning opportunity in itself.

 

Valued- Students will retain information that is valued and applicable. Learning new literary skills must be an experience that students can have some ownership in. Making connections to their experiences and the importance of the skills they are learning is essential.  Literacy should be a valued “stepping stone” to a vast field of knowledge in other content areas. Not only should the academic value of literacy skills be taught, but the manner in which literacy accompanies societal tasks and processes is how true value is expressed.

 

Enhanced- Lessons and skills related to reading and writing should always offer room to further explore. They should enhance and leave room to extend steps higher in order for students to grow, reach, and explore at another time. At times, it will be necessary for open-ended tasks to be encouraged in literacy learning. However, skills should never be introduced in solely in isolation without a clear path of guiding students to a place where they are motivated to improve.

 

Importance of Incorporating L.O.V.E.

This post stems from the book that I wrote for teachers and parents a few years ago, titled “29 Days to L.O.V.E. Literacy”.  It was written with the hopes of building a world or readers, writers, and thinkers who appreciate literacy in all forms, and respect the importance of such a valuable skill.  We must move beyond the process of sharing with students “how to read” (although very important), and share the value of “why to read”.

 

 

More Information on “29 Days to L.O.V.E. Literacy” and a FREE Resource with activities:  http://drkchilds.com/2020/03/free29daystll/


By Dr. Kamshia Childs | Categories All | Authors | critical thinking | Diversity | Educators | Equity | Inclusion | Literacy | Reading | Reading instruction | October 8, 2021

A literacy environment should be cultivated by its curriculum.  Learning how to read and develop literacy skills is a process that will benefit a child their entire life.  It is the foundation for other subjects, and a manner in which students learn to communicate and learn about their world, near and far.

The process to teach the required skills necessary is complex, and varies depending on the needs of each learner. In my experience, literacy teaching and learning should be a “dream”. A dream in the sense of literacy learning being a priceless gift—and a dream in the sense of having curriculum and teaching practices which address Diversity, Relevance, Engagement, Access, Motivation (D.R.E.A.M.).

D.R.E.A.M. Literacy focuses on practices being implemented into instruction by educators, as well as encourages at-home support and partnerships in using diverse texts, popular culture and technology, and multimodal resources.  D.R.E.A.M. represents several pieces necessary to address and provide quality and equitable literacy instruction for all. When planning literacy lessons, assignments, and making curriculum decisions educators and parents should consider the following elements:

Diversity

Diversity brings about a wide spectrum of issues that educators can be faced with.  Willingness to learn, accept, and apply the culture (VERY IMPORTANT: Culture does not just mean ethnicity or race) of students to instructional practices is key. Here are some ways to address diversity in literacy:

 

Relevance

Students need to know how to apply the knowledge being taught, and how it applies to them.  Students want to feel like they are included and are represented in a learning environment. Students want to know why it’s important, and how it is useful. Students need to know why they are developing literacy skills and where they will encounter them in their future. Making content relevant includes:

 

Engagement

Engagement starts with learning the interests of the students, merged with the academic knowledge needed. Engagement also involves educators utilizing multimodal approaches in their lessons and work with students. Some great multimodal literacy strategies include:

 

Access

Ease of access to resources and empowering parents/guardians to help build literacy skills at home is necessary for growth. Not all students have the opportunity to have access to books in their home. If books and reading are left out of the home environment, is it really that important for a child and their family? Insight on how to continue a child’s learning outside of the classroom doors is crucial.  The following ideas are recommended:

 

Motivation

As far as motivation, our role is to grow our students’ skills and learn what makes them excited to learn—this is very important with students who have so many unique needs that are changing as society changes daily. The main ingredient for motivation in a literacy classroom is choice.

 

In closing, a literacy environment should thrive on partnership between the internal and external learning communities.  Parents and educators are the essential component that provides students the opportunity to see literacy as a tool of advancement and an escape— teamwork makes the “dream” work.