Monday, March 19, 2012

Literacy as a Routine

"Literacy choices" are common in elementary school classrooms. Children might be assigned or choose individual or small group literacy activities which they work on for a set amount of time. This part of the day has the potential to be incredibly enjoyable, educational, and productive for students and teachers. When students are independently engaged in activities, teachers have the opportunity to do individual student conferences, or circulate to observe and facilitate activities. If a teacher teaches the routine of literacy choices from the beginning of the year, the students will become pros at making choices and staying on task throughout their work time. It is also important to keep the choices interesting throughout the year. Teachers might provide variations on familiar choices every once in a while.

Some literacy choices might include:
~Listening to a book on a CD
~Doing a free-write (working on a story, a letter, a book, etc.)
~Writing on the chalkboard, dry-erase board, or in a sensory material
~Using magnet letters to write words
~"Writing the Room" - Looking for specific categories of words around the classroom (such as colors, names, words starting or ending with a certain letter or sound)

Families can encourage independent and collaborative literacy work at home by giving children time to read or write on their own, and working on literacy activities as a team. Teachers can send home a list of the literacy choices available to students at school so that families are aware of their children's routines. These choices can also be demonstrated at a Family Literacy Night or during parent-teacher conferences. Literacy choices are a great way for children to gain literacy independence because they are activities that can be done with little or no assistance. However, they can also be worked on collaboratively so that students can build teamwork and communication skills.

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