Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lessons from a kindergarten teacher

This is a kindergarten teacher - and a teacher of teachers.

Lori Jamison introduced a roomful of kindergarten teachers at the recent Reading for the Love of it conference to a handful of "mini-lessons" to get kids reading.

Her first point was, "what do we want kindergarteners to know about literacy?" Here's what she thinks are the most important take-aways.

1) The concepts of print - which is the front/back of the book? How does a book work?
2) The conventions and structures of spoken language.
3) Why do we read/write?
4) Motivation - helping children see themselves as readers and writers.

This last point, she said, is the most important one.

I'll be posting more information from her very interesting session. In the meantime, here's one of the many great suggestions she had for teaching beginning readers and writers: Have them use the letters in their name to write.

She pointed out that the first letters children learn and use are the ones in their name. They're most comfortable with those letters, and they have a context for them. So concentrate on using those letters to help them spell new words.

It's a simple idea, but wonderfully helpful.

About the only thing I didn't love about Jamison's speech was that she made us all do a "hello to your neighbour" song - with high-fives and thigh bumps - at the beginning of her speech. As I was scowling, wondering how I could avoid doing it without making a scene, it brought home to me that I am far too cynical to ever be a kindergarten teacher. Fair enough.


Claire said...

I thoroughly agree with what you have written in this blog. Some simple thoughts but such useful and valuable ones. I write a blog full of tips for Kindergarten parents, thought you might like to check it out or share it with your colleagues and parents.
Virginia, USA

Joyce Grant said...

It's a lovely blog, Claire!
Thanks so much for pointing it out.
GKR readers who have young children should definitely check it out.