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Critical literacy means to break down a text, reading with a knowledge of language and how it works. By developing critical literacy skills, children are able to identify the author’s intentions behind a text. Critically literate children are able to see the specific word choice used, the choice of personal pronouns, the style of writing used, they are able to hypothesise what will happen next, and they are able identify specific language techniques used; for example onomatopoeia, metaphors, and anthromorphism. They are able to do all this and then use that in their work. Wind in the Willows is a great example where children can see these techniques used and then, by reading the text and using their critical literacy skills, develop greater writing skills as they pick up ideas on sentence structure, develop greater vocabularies and carefully choose their words, for maximum effectiveness. Additionally with the improvement in their writing, their, speaking skills increase as they apply the new found vocabulary and articulate what they want to say in a formal and confident way. Critical literacy also has the added bonus of creating a growing appreciation of a text. When children learn to read in a critical way, they delve deeper into the literature, and become consumed by its fascination, when this happens children continue to read. When children continue to read they absorb so many skills and like with practicing to ride a bike they improve, and their reading becomes more thorough and more efficient (increased reading pace), and although they are reading at a quicker pace their comprehension is improved, as they learn to sort through the information and retain the most important stuff.
Digital literacy is the ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information. Digital literacy makes literature more available, through internet articles, emails, online ads, poetry websites and more. Therefore with more exposure
children are able to recite poems, read books, listen to songs on the computer, write creative pieces of work while simultaneously being expose to digital literacy. The use of digital literacy, however also creates a second language, the textual language. This could mean the death of the English language. Already through devices such as text messages, MSN, and even emails to an extent, children are losing the essence of the English language through abbreviations, leading to a dramatic fall in the children’s ability to spell and use correct grammar. Inevitably at this rate there will be a loss of traditional language, a loss of formality, and a rise of colloquialism. Additionally children’s writing skills will further decrease as children become dependant on computers to write. Unable in their HSC to provide and creative ideas for their short story, because they are so use to generating ideas infront of a computer and typing with keyboards, rather than writing with pen and paper. Furthermore children are starting to rely on spell check, and therefore are not worry about correct spelling so much. With the development of digital literacy eventually learning will be done completely with online resources, this is when spelling will make or break. There is a high chanced students become Americanised with their spelling, or due to consistent misspelling of words on websites, students just simple learn words incorrectly. Reading will still exist but now on computer screens, taking us back to the idea of scrolls as children cannot see whole text. Slowly we are taking steps backwards in the development of literacy skills through the use of digital literacy, when really we built these technologies to further develop these skills. In conclusion I believe digital literacy has the power to further increase children’s literacy skills, if used correctly. However if general trends continue as they are, we will have an educational epidemic on our hands, as particularly high school children will begin to progress backwards as they are exposed more and more to digital literacy.
At their simplest fairytales are folktales with fairies and magic. Traditionally fairytales where passed down orally, thus leading to the variety of versions of each fairytale as with each retelling the stories inevitable would change. Fairytales however now are printed in literature and therefore can now be read aloud to children. The act of reading aloud, increases young children's comprehension and vocabulary skills (Cohen: 1968), phonological production (Irwin: 1960), complexity of sentence structure (Cazden: 1965), and concept of story structure (Applebee: 1978) all as a result of being read to from an early age. Children’s literature and in particular fairytales engage children. They create a pattern, a ritual whereby children continue to read, and thereby learn and grow from all its other benefits. Fairytales immerse children in language, language that may be made up or authentic, whatever the case- the language they are exposed to opens their minds and encourages their imagination to run wild. In effect this creates improved writing, speaking, and listening skills, as they use the language they hear to improve their vocabularies when speaking, open their imagination when writing and further use the principals of listening when they need to. Hearing fairytales read aloud or children reading them, themselves, in particular like Cinderella, can assist children in grasping the differences among literary forms and functions. As a Cinderella story line is very common throughout children’s literature, this helps children to anticipate story patterns and endings. This in turn helps to develop quicker and more fluent reading. (Hoewisch: 2000) The sheer love of fairytales and their happy endings, creates a love of them, and thus can therefore improve children’s speaking skills as they share their stories with their parents, friends and /or teachers. The Harry Potter series has done wonders for fairytales, as with the love for the books so much, children read, then re-read them, telling and re-telling their favourite parts to each other. Harry Potter also lends itself very well to the older children and brings them back into the fairytale realm. Improving children’s writing skills as they summaries for each chapter of the book, further understanding the plot and links within the book but also developing greater vocabulary, correct grammar, correct spelling of words and, greater general sentence structure.
Evidently through the points above it can be seen that children’s literature is very important in the development of literacy skills, and in particular fairytales as they are able to affect children from such an early age and start their cognitive development of literacy skills.
Visual literacy is the ability to decode images and analyse the power of the image, in relation to what it means in a particular context. Visual literacy surrounds us as children from a young age; from the day we are born we are bombarded with information, some of it coming from adults around us teaching us words. Through the use of visual literacy, children from an early age learn word associations and comprehension. Additionally ESL students are taught words through the use of pictures, associating a word and then being able to identify what they word means through seeing a picture of it, i.e cat or tree. This then creates a basis for learning to read and speak as children develop their word banks and articulation of words. The Babar and friends book series is a fantastic resource that can be used with young children developing language or even with ESL students, as throughout the book words are replaced with pictures; this builds students comprehension as they learn what each word means in relation to their environment. I.e the word, house. They might know what a house is, but if you show them a picture of a house and they can recognise that looks like place I live in, then you can associate a word to the picture. The book also develops reading skills and in particular fluency as children read the words in the book and then continues reading replacing the pictures with the appropriate word. The use of visual literacy and in particular symbolism; understanding signs, symbols and signals to express many words or a phase in one image, can be used effectively in developing writing. The use of symbolism particularly in poetry, teaches students varied connotations of a word. Additionally students develop the skills of word choice and broaden their vocabularies as they are
exposed to various words, due to their teacher and/or parent explaining the symbolism of particular words i.e ring meaning: eternal, marriage, commitment, forever, strong, rigid. To reiterate visual literacy is an important component of children’s literacy development, as it provides the early foundations of reading, and speaking skills and continues to affect children’s literacy development helping with writing as through the use of images children learn the notion of a picture tells a 1000 words, and learn vital skills of selective word choice to maximise the effectiveness of their writing in limited words.
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