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4260 Leah Benson Due Date: September 19th, 2017

Language Arts Inventory #1

Strategy 1: Incorporating First Languages in ALL Aspects of the Classroom

Our Textbook states: Linguistically diverse children have already learned to communicate in at least
one language, and if they dont speak English, they want to learn English in order to make friends, learn,
and communicate with their English-speaking classmates (page 12). This statement is very true; however,
it is important as educators that we incorporate our students first language into our classroom. A strategy
that I hope to implement into my classroom is to use environmental print in the students first language
(page 14). This strategy is extremely beneficial as students will be able to connect words in their first
language to the equivalent in English. In the classroom setting, posters would be in English, as well as in
the students first language. Incorporating students first language is important in all subject areas. For
example, in math, an English language learner may benefit from having a cue card of math terminology
translations at their desk so they can understand what the question is asking. Incorporating our students
first language is so important to me, as I have seen the direct benefits. In high school, we had a lot of
students from the Philippines, and at first many of the students would stick together and would only speak
their first language, rather than learning to adapt to English. This became frustrating for all students
because you could see the divide in our school, and there was no need to have a divide between students.
A solution that the school came to was so powerful and it was a simple answer to the problem. We, as a
student body, learned their native language. We all gathered as a student body one day to pray the Living
Rosary, and to start we said in a prayer in their native tongue, rather than in English. As a student, I could
see how powerful this was. The new students could see that we were all trying to learn their language and
weeks to come, they began to put more effort into learning English, because we tried to learn theirs. It was
a simple compromise, but yet so powerful.

As an educator, I have seen the importance of incorporating first languages in the classroom and
being aware of the third language system: the semantic system. During ED 2500, the school I was placed
at, had a student pass away. Our class came together to discuss what had happened and came to the
conclusion that our class should make cards for the family. However, rather than saying the boy had died
we used the terminology of passed away. While making cards, I was walking around the classroom,
ensuring that all students were making appropriate cards when I came across a student in our class that
seemed to be confused. On her card, she wrote, we hope you feel better soon and you come back to
school soon. This young girl had recently moved to Canada, and was unaware of the terminology passed
away. She didnt understand the meaning of what we had said. As an educator, this took me back and
made me realize how important it is to be aware of our vocabulary and to ensure that all students are
aware of the terminology that is being used in the classroom.
Leah Benson

Strategy 2: Sharing is Caring! Classroom turned into a Coffee House
According to Vygotsky, language helps organize thought, and children use language to learn as well
as to communicate and share experiences with others. Having a social component in the classroom allows
for students to share their experiences through reflecting their own culture. Not only is it important that
students take part in activities that allow for students to share their own personal experiences, but it is also
important that students participate in language arts activities that are meaningful, functional, and genuine.
(Page 28) This is where the idea of a Coffee House Classroom popped into my brain. When I was in grade
four my teacher had a coffee house once a month, each month had us present something to our fellow
classmates and parents. Sometimes it was the poem we were working on during a poetry unit, others it was
sharing a piece of our favorite book and explaining why, or performing a skit. As I read this chapter, I
started to develop my own spin on how a Coffee House could be done. Students could share an artifact
that describes them and present on it, students could present their favorite song and describe the
meanings behind the song and different literary devices that are found within the song, students could
present literature based on a certain theme and discuss the book. The opportunities are endless but each
student would be engaging in the six language arts of listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and
visually representing. (page 24-25) A concern I came up with, is if students are nervous to present in front
of their peers, but a solution may be to incorporate technology and have them record themselves before
the coffee house and then sharing their recording with the class. I strongly believe in learning how to
present and being able to speak to a crowd, there are so many benefits.

Not only do I believe that it is important for students to present, but I also believe that it is so
important to share and celebrate our experiences. During my PS1 practicum, I taught grade 1 and every
morning my Teacher Associate would allow the students to share what they did the previous evening. I saw
students open up their shell when it was their turn because they were able to share an experience that
they had. I also saw students raise their hand when it wasnt their turn to ask the student who was sharing
a question about what they were sharing. The act of communicating with each other is so important and to
create an environment in our classrooms where students feel open to communicating is key.

Leah Benson
Strategy 3: High Five
After reading this chapter, every concept, theory, and research presented, kept bringing me back to
the strategy High Five. This strategy focuses on enhancing the comprehensive ability of students. This
technique allows for students to understand the material that they are reading and drawing their
attention to specific details. This strategy allows students to focus on Critical Literacy and to develop a
deeper understanding of the text, or language within the text and develop a meaning. (page 20) There
are five separate strategies that form the high 5 reading strategy; activating prior knowledge, questioning,
analyzing text structure, visualization, and summarizing. There are a variety of ways that these strategies
can be implemented into the classroom. A few ways that I would use these strategies in my classroom are
shown below:

1. Activating Prior knowledge

a. By activating background knowledge students are able to make prior connections and
their reading comprehension is enhanced.
b. An example of what I would do in my classroom is to use technology to research
background information for what we are studying. Using think-pair-share discussions
also create great discussions and allow for students to truly show their prior knowledge.
Another example of how this may be seen in a higher elementary/junior high based
setting is to use a picture book that has the same major theme of the novel or text that
the class is about to study.
2. Questioning
a. Questions allow for students to gain more information about the text they are
comprehending and develop a deeper understanding.
b. Using K-W-L charts is a great strategy for students to question what they know, wonder,
and have learned. This can be done before, during and after reading. Also varying the
types of questions that students are asking and what I am asking my students to ensure
that all cognitive levels of thinking are being met. Another area that may be useful is to
determine questions from different point of views (the six hats strategy)
3. Analyzing Text Structure
a. Analyzing text structure allows students to see how the author organizes information.
This shows students how the ideas in a text may be correlated to convey a certain
b. Using diagrams (t-charts, Venn diagrams, and RAN Charts) will help students analyze the
text. Also having small group discussions, jigsaw activities, or think-pair-share.
4. Visualization
a. Visualizing how texts are structured enhances reading comprehension as it focuses on
looking at the structure at a deeper level.
b. Picture talking allows for students to create a picture of what they know already about
the topic that is being discussed. As they learn more and develop a deeper
Leah Benson
understanding they can add to the picture as well. Relating what the students are
learning to their everyday life is also a great way for students to visualize the text.
5. Summarizing
a. Summarizing the material that was read, listened to, or watched is so important.
Research has indicated that the ability to summarize enhances comprehension as
students are able to delete irrelevant details and condense the information into a main
idea of focus.
b. Journal writing, collaborative writing, and blog posts will allow for students to show their
ability to summarize information in the texts and will also encourage critical thinking
(page 21). Creative ways to summarize such as creating a song or poem are also great
ways for students to engage in summarizing.

As a student, I always struggled with comprehending the reading. I was always discouraged because
I could never determine the deeper meaning of the text, or the hidden messages because I was just told to
read the story or watch the video and figure it out. However, if I was given a reading guide to follow along
with the text or video, I was able to comprehend the information much easier. I knew that I was not the
only student that struggled with this, and so I vowed to myself that when I became a teacher, I would
provide my students with as many strategies as possible to help with reading comprehension or
comprehension of any medium. It is so important for students to be able to dissect a story and develop a
deeper understanding. As I have grown older, and have developed stronger critical thinking skills, I go back
to the classics that I read when I was in school and have a whole new appreciation for those novels. As a
teacher, I want to provide that appreciation the first time the students read the novel or watch the movie.
This High Five strategy allows for students to truly enhance their comprehensive abilities.

Information about the High Five strategy was found at


Leah Benson

Language Arts Inventory #2

Strategy 1: Classroom Library

To have a classroom library that is full of diverse text is every teachers dream. Well I know it is
definitely one of mine. A strategy that I will be implementing to create a language-rich classroom is to have
a classroom library. Having a classroom library allows for students to develop a love for reading and
become aware of all the different types/genres of books. In my classroom library, I will have many
different types of books (picture books, chapter books, informational books, poetry books, etc.) but also
focus on the topics that I have in my classroom. Ensuring that I am reaching out to all of my students
interests and backgrounds. In my classroom library, there will be a variety of culturally diverse literature,
while ensuring that the literature is culturally conscious (page 48)

Not only will I be very aware of the cultures that are in my classroom, but I will also be aware of the
differentiation that needs to occur to meet all of my students abilities. If I were to have a student that
may be challenged reading or have a vision impairment, I may set them up with an audiobook where they
can listen to a book that they choose. If I have a student who has English as a second language, I will include
literature that is culturally relevant to them (page 63). A student with ADHD may need a book that has
short chapters in it so that they can read for a short period of time and then put the book away at an
appropriate ending. A classroom library is very important to have but it needs to be implemented so that
all students can be engaged and all have the same level of enjoyment with literacy.

Throughout my schooling, my teachers always had books in their classroom, but a classroom that
will forever be etched into my brain is my grade 1 classroom. This classroom had a huge claw foot tub that
full of pillows that students could sit and read in. This tub was in our library in the back of the classroom
and we could pick a book that was in our own reading basket and sit and read in the tub. The tub only fit so
many, so we also had bean bags, carpet space, and blankets. It wasnt just the tub that made the library in
our classroom so fun, it was the number of books that we had that constantly changed every day. I always
remember having a different book in my basket that I was able to choose to read that day. If I didnt have a
book in my basket, that meant that I was able to listen to an audio book on the CD Walkman. This space in
our classroom was a highlight. Space where we were all so comfortable and were able to do what we love
to do: READ.

Leah Benson

Strategy 2: D.E.A.R (2.0)
On page 56 our textbook discusses how influential readers workshops can be for our students, as they
allow for our students to become more fluent readers and deepen their appreciation of books and
reading. A component of the readers workshop that really stood out to me was reading and responding. I
think it is so important for students to spend 30-45 minutes reading a novel or other reading materials that
they have chosen. However, it is important that students are reading something that is at their level! This
reminded me of a strategy that my teachers used when I was in elementary school- DEAR (Drop Everything
and Read). DEAR is, a scheduled time for students to read what they want and receive support that they
need for further exploration of reading and reflections. There are many benefits to this strategy, a few
being that it encourages independent silent reading, assigned reading time builds vocabulary, improves
writing skills and increases comprehension. As a student, I always looked forward to reading and having a
set amount of time to let my mind wander into the plot of my book. However, I know many students that
would only read for the first few minutes and then become off task. So, I am hoping with DEAR 2.0, I can
eliminate the off-task issues and develop a scheduled time for students to read and respond. The
improvements that I would make would be to keep a log or a journal that keeps track of how many pages
each student is reading during each DEAR session and as well as a brief summary of what they have read.
This way students are accountable for ensuring that they read for a certain amount of time. Silent reading
in a classroom for a selected amount of time is not for everyone, and some students may benefit from
writing a story or responding to a journal starter, and so with DEAR 2.0 I would ensure that all students are
either reading their own novel that is fit to their reading level, or they are responding to a question or
statement that I have given them. I truly believe that this strategy is extremely beneficial as it gives
students a chance to quiet down after recess and become focused for other subjects. Also, by incorporating
DEAR into my everyday classroom schedule, the allotted time is less likely to be overlooked and be put
aside to work on other subjects.

Why am I passionate about DEAR? This passion did not start while I was in elementary when I took
part in DEAR as I had students ruin that time that my teacher set aside for us to read. They were constantly
being off task and we eventually had our DEAR time taken away from us. When that time was taken away
from us, I didnt read near as much. I learned the value of silent reading during an allotted time during
University (actually at the beginning of this school year). I have severe anxiety and am constantly worrying
about my grades and having everything scheduled to a T, that I started to lose sleep at night because I
didnt allow myself time to decompress or relax. Every day, since the beginning of this school year, I have
dedicated 30-45 minutes before bed to read a novel of my choice. I CANNOT believe the difference this has
made on my mental and physical health. I am sleeping better, worrying less, and smiling way more.
Leah Benson
Strategy 3: Menu Assignments
On page 33 in our textbook, we are referred to Linda Gambrells seven rules of engagement, and
she notes that one rule is that students have opportunities to make choices about what they read and
how they engage and complete literary tasks. This statement is very true and as educators, we need to
ensure that we are keeping our students engaged in everything we do. A strategy that I hope to incorporate
in my class and would be extremely engaging to all students are menu assignments. A menu assignment
allows for students to choose how they may respond and complete literary tasks. An example of how I
would use a menu assignment is with a class-wide novel study. I would have students choose a breakfast,
lunch, and dinner item to respond to for each chapter or for each checkpoint that we decided on as a
collective. This way, students are choosing how and what they want to respond to. If a student is more
creative and artistic, they may choose to draw a scene from a chapter. If a student is technologically
advanced, they may choose to create a digital video of the plot thus far in the story. For a student with
lower vocabulary skills, they may choose to pick 20 words that they had a harder time understanding and
learn the meaning of each. A menu-type assignment allows for students to complete the same amount of
work but having their own independent choice in how they respond.

As a student, I always wanted to have the best project or best response and always wanted to
respond to what we were learning or reading in a creative project type form. However, a majority of our
responses to a novel were to do journal entries or a written response of some sort. This type of response is
great, and journal writing can be so beneficial but it doesnt need to be done every time. I felt that I
became bored of reading because I always had to respond to what we were reading in the same format. If I
were to have had some choice, I would have been more inclined to do different forms of responding to the
novel. In high school, we did an independent novel study and our English teacher let us pick any book from
a certain list and respond to it. She had certain criteria we needed to do and that we had to respond to
every chapter but there were no limitations. This allowed for me to completely expand and look at my
novel from every angle. However, I noticed that some students responded the same way every time
because it was the easiest. It is so important to challenge our students and to have opportunities
available that will engage and respond to the task.

Leah Benson

Language Arts Inventory # 3

This Literacy Inventory is based off the assigned reading of Chapter 4

Strategy 1: Book Talks

The first book talk I ever took part in was during PS1- Language in Education class with Robin Bright.
I thought these were such a fantastic idea, and could totally see myself using this in my future classroom.
For an assignment, we were asked to give a book talk to our peers. This was such a fun experience,
everyone picked their own picture book and a chapter book that had the same theme. This allowed for
each one of us to read and research your choice of novel and present to a small group. Since our professor
couldnt watch each one of our book talks, she asked for us to videotape our presentation. This made me
think of a way to differentiate the assignment for my classroom if students were not wanting to present
directly in front of their peers. Also, presenting to smaller groups lowers the anxiety of presenting.

Why do I think Book Talks are important in a classroom? Not only do I think it is important that I
present book talks to my students to give them a glimpse what is all out there to read, but I think it is so
important that my students create their own book talks. I think it is great that students have the
opportunity to present in front of peers that they trust. This also allows students to work through the
research process and the preparation that takes place for a presentation. This also ensures that students
are comprehending the book and being accountable to their peers to give a summary of the book.

To differentiate this task for all of my students abilities, I would offer a variety of types of books.
Each book talk would be different for each students level of reading. If a student were to have a visual
impairment, I would ensure that they had audiobooks so that they can listen to the book of their choice.
Also, pairing students up to research books and create a book talk may be beneficial if a student is
challenged by reading or may be an English language learner that may be uncomfortable with presenting
on their own. Also, for students who are English Language Learners, we need to value their first language
and see multilingualism as a benefit and a resource (page 122). An example that I could see is students
reading the book in their language, or teaching other students keywords in the book in their first language.
I see all of these strategies as beneficial. For a student who may be mute or is challenged vocally, they
could write down a script of what they would say to their peers. If they were in partners, the peer could
read the script to the peers, or as the teacher, I could read what the student wrote to their peers. There
are so many ways to make book talks enriching for all of my students abilities and I cannot wait to include
this in my language-rich classroom.
Leah Benson

Strategy 2: Small Group Discussions/ Literature Circles
Literature circles allow for students to engage in critical thinking and reflect as the read, reflect
and respond to the book. Discussing with their peers, students are allowed to construct meaning from the
text. Literature circles provide a place for cooperative learning. Having students discuss with their peers,
allows everyone to construct meaning and understand the text completely from multiple different angles
or opinions. These circles allow for students to discover the power of talk and are able to develop skills to
strengthen and lengthen conversations. Within these literature circles, students are allowed to discuss
what challenges them, what they love about the reading, personal connections, etc. (page 124). There are
so many values of literature circles, not only do they help students develop the confidence to share within
small groups and whole-class settings, but their in-depth talking shows in their writing (Page 126). Having
literature circles in my classroom will help students with their writing, and having writing in my classroom
will create stronger more effective literacy circles. How neat is that? Students are able to engage with each
other, to share their opinions with each other, while also having fun.

I have seen how literature circles work within this Education class and have found them very
beneficial. I thought I received a much more thorough understanding of the article we had to read, as I was
able to hear different opinions and strengthen my understanding of what the article was discussing.
Another value of literature circles, that I really liked in our class, is that we each have our own role of what
we are doing. These jobs ensure that we are all reading the article or the book and having a strong
understanding of it. With students choosing what text they read, or by choosing what job they have within
their circle, they are becoming intrinsically motivated and form a deeper level of engagement.

I will differentiate literature circles in my classroom through grouping students based on different
levels and different topics that are discussed in the book/ text. Students will be placed in small groups
based off of their abilities and their interests. Having groupings change often, will also create a trusting
environment through the whole class, as students will become comfortable sharing with everyone. Also,
literature circles can be differentiated by the type of literature the group is looking at, whether that be a
chapter book, a picture book, an audio book, a newspaper article, or even a poem. The opportunities are

Leah Benson
Strategy 3: Graphic Organizers/ K-W-L Charts (Page 127)
Graphic organizers allow for students to organize ideas and make students think visibly. Students
can use graphic organizers to generate ideas, record and recognize information and see relationships within
their information. Since there are a variety of graphic organizers, there are many ways of implementing
each type into the classroom. Graphic organizers allow students to not only demonstrate what they are
learning but also how they are thinking. A K-W-L Chart is a visual organizer to show what students know,
what students wonder, and what students have learned. The visual can be used before, during, and after a
lesson. These charts can be done at an individual level, to focus on reflection, or through brainstorming
with a group. Our text states that K-W-L charts are a good way to help students take an active role in
talking about what they are learning from theme units. (Page 127) T-Chart is a visual organizer to show
students a contrast. This could be seen in all classrooms. In an elementary math class, students may
compare even and odd numbers. In junior high, this could be seen in a language arts class when comparing
antagonist and protagonist characters within a novel study. In high school, this may be seen in a social
studies classroom, when students are comparing left and right-wing ideologies. Other ideas consist of Venn
diagrams, mind maps, flow charts, etc.

A graphic organizer can be a great method to introduce a new topic or lesson to see what students
prior knowledge, or may also be used a concluding activity to see what students have learned and what
may need to be reviewed before a culmination activity. I have used graphic organizers many times and
always find so much benefit from them. I am a student who needs to write pages of notes and read the
textbook, however, I really value the use of graphic organizers as a study tool. As an educator, I see the
value of graphic organizers in all subject areas. All different types of graphic organizers can be used across
disciplines, which helps students form ways of how they may learn or how they may choose to study. I have
used graphic organizers in a grade one health class- with hula hoops turned into Venn diagrams, and I have
used Venn-diagrams in a grade six math class with chart paper. Each time, I have implemented graphic
organizers into my classroom, I see that my students are able to show me that they have comprehended
the new material, and they have a great time doing the activity as well. This strategy will be extremely
beneficial in my future classroom as it will tend to all of my students abilities. I am looking forward to
implementing all of the different types of graphic organizers in my future classroom!

A neat video I found on the benefits of graphic organizers to keep in my tickle trunk:

Leah Benson

Language Arts Inventory #4

This Literacy Inventory is based off the assigned reading of Chapter 5

Strategy 1: Buddy Reading

For my first few years of school (K-2) I went to a very small school that was K-12, and so everyone knew
everyone. One of my favorite memories as a young student was reading with the high school students. Not
only was it awesome to read with the older kids, but it also created a buddy around the school. I will always
remember that my buddy would come check up on me at recess, and ask how my day was going, or what
we were going to read next. That was such a great feeling. When I left that school, and grew a few years
older, I had the ability to be the older buddy. I knew that I had to make an impact on a young student like
my older buddy did for me. It was fun to read with the student and to help them learn vocabulary words
and to develop stronger fluency, however, I never felt that I made an influence on their life. This past
summer I was in the Safeway back in Brooks, and my cashier was my little buddy. I knew she knew who I
was but I didnt expect that she would remember details. Towards the end of our conversation, she said to
me Do you remember, you were my reading buddy when I was in grade two and I nodded yes. She
responded I still remember you helping me and reading other stories to me, Ill never forget that. You are
going to be an amazing teacher. With that, I left Safeway with my heart full and a huge smile on my face.
Buddy reading is so important for students to learn socially with either students their same age, or older,
but it also has a huge impact on building relationships within the classroom and school community.

During my PS1 practicum, I taught grade 1 and I incorporated buddy reading into my language arts
class. The textbook states: Often students can read selections together that neither one could read
individually (page 149). This statement is so true! The students who hated to read would read so well with
their classmate. I would have students with the same reading level paired around the classroom. The
students would read the book three times. Once in unison, then partner A would read to partner B than
vice versa. It was so inspiring to see 14 six-year-olds help each other to finish the book. This practicum
experience allowed for me to see the benefits of having buddy reading as a teacher, rather than just from a
students perspective.

The textbook discusses a few drawbacks of buddy reading, one being that the teacher has limited
involvement, the second is that the teacher has less control. This would be an issue as the teacher would be
just monitoring and would have a harder time of seeing what the students are comprehending or maybe
what they may be challenged with. A solution that I thought of would be to have the students record a
summary of what they read together, or have them answer a few reading comprehension questions, or
complete a task so then the teacher could see possible progress. If the questions arent being completed or
the teacher has concerns, they can then ensure that they sit with that buddy pair next time they meet.
Also, another solution would be to have the students video record themselves reading and then have them
act out their favorite scene of the book. This way the teacher will be able to hear their fluency and what the
student may need help with, or if they need to be reading a book that is more challenging.
Leah Benson
In my future language arts classroom, I hope to accomplish everything that buddy reading did for
me as a student, but I am also hoping to use buddy reading to help any of my ELL students or students who
have special learning needs. I think it is so important that they socially learn from their peers. Not only
could students help ELL students learn English, but our ELL students could teach other students about their
native language and culture through books.

Strategy 2: Word Walls

My understandings of word walls have changed as I have been in more classrooms. At first, I
thought word walls were only to be in younger elementary classrooms and only to do with language arts.
Boy, was I wrong! Not only are word walls important in a language arts classroom, but I truly believe that
they are important in all subject areas for all students. During my PS2, I had a few ELL students in my
classroom that were absolutely brilliant but were challenged by some of the mathematical terminologies
because they were not aware of what it meant. My Teacher Associate created a word wall with different
terms that could be used for specific operations. WOW- what a difference in those students. It was amazing
to see the transformation in how the students performed. They were able to complete the questions
independently and you could see their anxiety lower completely because they would be able to figure out
what the question was asking of them. Having seen how simple yet important word walls are, I will
definitely be putting this strategy to use in my own classroom one day!

Below are just a few ideas of how I plan to incorporate words walls into each subject area:

Language Arts Social

Use word walls to help students build word skills Give students a definition orally or on the board
a word wall can illustrate patterns found in words and they have to find the word on the word wall
to Show prefixes, synonyms/ homonyms that corresponds to that definition
An activity to teach metaphors or similes is for Vocabulary words that are related to the topic. For
students to pick 5 words off the word wall to example, provinces, levels of the government,
create a metaphor or a simile causes for why something happened (what were
the causes of the French revolution?
Science Math

Science is very vocabulary- intense so creating Word walls can provide visual cues as to what
word walls for different units will increase symbol corresponds to what function
students comprehension and help them make Using to explain mathematical terminology
connections among concepts. (even/odd, fraction, percent, perimeter, area,
Students can categories and sequence words for parallel, perpendicular)
steps of a procedure Using a word wall to show different shapes and the
different types within the same shape
Leah Benson

Strategy 3: Rubrics- Designed as a Team
I find assessment one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, parts of teaching. I absolutely love
learning about assessment and learning different techniques, however, I still have many unanswered
questions. My biggest question is how do I ensure that I am assigning the proper grade to a student? As I
read the chapter, I began to explore the ideas of rubrics. I have used rubrics before but never felt like I was
using them to their full potential. As a student, we were always told what to do but never given an exact
rubric of what was needed. However, when the mark came back there was rubric of how the teacher
graded the assignment. How is that fair to the students? Shouldnt the students be able to understand how
they will be getting marked? I think so. While reading the chapter, I read the statement: Teachers AND
students can assess writing with rubrics (page 192) This is when it clicked. Why should I create the rubric
by myself when I could have my students create them with me? Having the students be involved in the
process will ensure that students are aware of the expectations. A rubric may not be ideal in all subject
areas or grade levels, but that is when we can look into other forms of assessment, such as checklists,
portfolios, reading records, observations, anecdotal notes. A checklist may be very useful in a project so
students can see what they need to have in their project.

As our textbook states: assigning grades is one of the most difficult responsibilities placed on
teachers, and sometimes I would definitely agree with that statement especially in regard to language
arts. Not only will rubrics help me be able to know what grade each student deserves, but the students will
also be aware of what grade they think they should be getting, while also being able to self-assess their
work. Throughout my practicum experience, I am becoming much more confident with rubrics and other
assessment tools. However, I still want to gain insight on how I can differentiate rubrics for my students,
and ensure that my assessment is still valid and reliable.

Leah Benson

Language Arts Inventory #5

This Literacy Inventory is based off the assigned reading of Chapter 6 and 7

Strategy 1: Open-mind Portraits

On page 201 our textbook discusses open-mind portraits and how students can draw these to
examine characters and reflect on the story from events from the characters point of view. These
portraits consist of two pairs: the face of the character is on one page and the mind of the character is on
the second page. The textbook uses the example of the character Anne from Anne of Green Gables, and I
was instantly reminded of Annes character and made me want to read the book all over again. The
purpose of these open-mind portraits is to help students develop a deeper understanding of a text and to
analyze different characters within the texts. Open-mind portraits not only allow for us to understand
what the character may say, do, like, or dislike, but it allows for the students to visualize the characters in a
piece of literature. This strategy would also work to see how much students really do understand about a
specific character.

As I reflected on how I would implement this strategy into my classroom, I began to think of all the
novels I could use this with, and the list became very long, as this strategy can be used all of the time. These
open-mind portraits create grand discussions between students as to why they chose to draw what they
did, or what students took away from the reading. Not only does this create an opportunity for students to
expand their views but these portraits may allow for students to see how an event in the novel may have
affected the character from a different perspective.

A way that this strategy can be differentiated for all students is to have different versions of
portraits. For example, students can choose to draw different events from the novel, or they may choose to
create a word collage of adjectives that describe the character if drawing is a challenge for them. Not only
can this portrait be done on paper and students can draw, but it can also be made electronically if students
would prefer to find images or type words that describe the character. This strategy allows for students to
be creative and show their true understandings of characters! I cant wait to implement this strategy into
my future language arts classroom to help improve lessons on character analysis!

Leah Benson

Strategy 2: Sketch- to Stretch
On page 205 our textbook discusses sketch-to-stretch activities that are used to help students
better understand characters, theme, or other elements of the story. This strategy could be implemented
in the classroom during a read-aloud novel study as students would be able to sketch while the teacher
reads to them. As the reading finishes students can then explain their drawings to their peers. The
discussion with peers will allow for students to transform or extend meanings, discover new insights, clarify
misunderstandings, or construct new meanings about the text (pg. 205).

I love the idea of sketching while the teacher is reading, however, I would want to students to be
aware that they need to be listening to the reading to understand what to draw, as well as stressing the
importance of the sketch and how it does not need to be perfect. As a student, I always remember having
to listen to what the teacher was reading and then discuss afterward. I was really challenged by this as I
often couldnt remember everything that she had read, especially if it was a long chapter. This strategy will
diminish the concept of having to remember everything till the end as students will be able to sketch as
they are hearing the story. Not only does this strategy allow for students to reflect on the story but it allows
for students to visualize the text and interpret it through drawing. Having the discussion with peers
afterward allows for diverse perspectives and open discussion which will allow for students understandings
to expand.

I could see this strategy being used a multitude of ways, such as a pre-reading strategy as to what
students remember, a post-reading activity for students to describe their favorite scene from the passage,
at the end of a chapter to predict what will happen next, or at the end of the novel having student sketch
the most important moment in the novel. A concern that I do have about this strategy is will it benefit all
students, or will it be distracting from some that they have to sketch while they are listening? With a mini-
lesson to introduce the concept, this may alleviate the off-task worry that I have, but this strategy may not
work in every classroom. However, the opportunities are endless with this strategy and I am looking
forward to putting it to use!

Leah Benson

Strategy 3: Communication is Key: Dialogue Journals and Letters
A main concept that I took away from chapters six and seven was the power of communication
between in multiple ways such as student-student, student to teacher, student to parent, and teacher to
parent. On page 220 our textbook discusses dialogue journals and I absolutely fell in love with this idea and
I truly did not see the importance of having that written dialogue interaction between students and
teachers. I think the most important thing that this strategy does is that it builds a relationship between
the student and the teacher, and it shows the student that the teacher does truly care about the student.
An aspect of dialogue journals that I loved was how beneficial they were for all learners as this strategy
promotes writing that is solely based off of choice. In my ED 2500 classroom, my Teacher Associate had a
strategy known as Friday Letters and on Friday the students would write something that happened this
past week that they liked or disliked, may be a challenge that they experienced in the classroom or with
friends, but instead of this piece of writing going to the teacher, it went to the parents. Not only did the
student like writing to their parent, but they loved reading what their parent wrote back to them. It is so
important for students to see that their parents and teachers support them and are proud of them, as it
motivates students to continue to thrive. I think incorporating dialogues journals with students, teachers,
and parents really solidify the connection between home and school while ensuring that all parties in the
students life are aware of what may be going on.

I loved that this strategy focuses on communication but in more of an informal, relaxed tone
whereas in chapter seven, the textbook discusses a more formal approach to communication through
letter writing. I believe that it is so important for students to understand the different modes of
communication and what is appropriate in different situations. Encouraging students to write letters to
their favorite author or local business is setting them up with skills that will last a lifetime. A way to
differentiate this strategy is to include emails and text messages and how to send a formal or informal
email or text message.

I LOVE the idea of pen pals and I think that this is such a fun idea to do at any age! My fourth-grade teacher
created pen pals for us, as her sister taught the same grade in New Brunswick! This was so much fun as we
wrote letters back and forth getting to know someone without ever meeting them. I love that the textbook
includes a graphic organizer for what to include in your pen pal letter, as this would accommodate for
students who may be challenged with ideas of what to write. If I were to incorporate pen pals into my
classroom, I would try to incorporate different ways of communication such as a letter, text, or email and
to teach students the difference between the three modes of communication. I cant wait for my students
to have a pen pal that could develop into a lifelong friend!

Leah Benson

Language Arts Inventory #6

This Literacy Inventory is based off the assigned reading of Chapter 9 and 10

Strategy 1: Advertisements
Advertisements are all around in us, in many different forms and as educators we need to ensure
that our students are aware and critically viewing them. Using advertisements students can ask key
questions (page 343 and 345) such as,
Who created this image?
What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
How might different people understand this message differently?
Teaching with advertisements benefits all students in all subject areas. Many students may be
challenged with interpreting the message of the advertisement or may be persuaded into believing what
the advertisement says is true. On page 341, our textbook states, advertisements on television, in
magazines, and on the internet, are prominent forms of persuasion and sources of propaganda in students
lives. This statement is so true, as teachers we need to teach our students how to critically analyze what is
being put in front of our students faces and to not believe everything the newspaper or television says is
true. Not only would students be able to learn how the advertisement may be persuading them, but using
advertisements may work as a mini-lesson to introduce persuasive writing. Not only can advertisements be
used in language arts to develop writing and viewing skills, but it can also be used in our language arts
classroom as art. Students could create a collage of advertisements that describe a certain theme. Students
could create an advertisement about a book and how to promote their book to other readers.

On page 354, the textbook states students need multiple opportunities to visually represent their
learning using a variety of strategies because representations enhance learning not only of the language
arts but also other areas of the curriculum. This chapter really allowed for me to explore how language
arts is so much more than reading and writing, and that we can enhance our lessons through teaching our
students to be critical viewers and to include different visual representations that students can create in
response to a project. Teaching through advertisements allow for students to develop those critical
thinking skills that will help them far beyond their education.

Leah Benson
Strategy 2: Music to my Ears
On page 364, our textbook discusses the importance of integrating music into the language arts
classroom as music can help promote a variety of literacy skills. I LOVE the idea of incorporating music, and
all types of music, into the classroom. Music allows for students to connect with the content, and develop a
more meaningful understanding of what is being taught. I recently attended a Professional Development
Session where a professor discussed how she taught Shakespeare and one of her students created a rap to
depict a very important scene! Not only was that a very creative way to present, but it truly showed that
the students had understood what Shakespeare was portraying! If I ever have to teach high school English, I
will definitely be incorporating that idea in my classroom!

How can I integrate music into language arts?

Encourage musical responses

Use music to introduce a piece of literature
Teach songs to students
Sing with students to show the value of all voices (I LOVE THIS)
More examples can be found on page 365

When I was in the 8th grade, my language arts teacher created a project where we analyze a song
and found all of the literary devices in each song and presented it to the class. We had to highlight the
similes, metaphors, adjectives, exaggerations, etc. I chose the song If today was your Last Day by
Nickelback, and still to this day whenever I heart it, I can pick out all of the literary devices and still know
the meaning of each. I think that goes to show how much of a connection I was able to make with the song
and how that led me to remember the content.

Not only do I feel that music is important to the language arts classroom, but I see many benefits in
all different subject areas. When I was in junior high and high school my math-teacher played music why
while worked on practice questions, which created a fun environment. I also attended another Professional
Development session during Wellness Week which talked about promoting positive mental health. The
presenter discussed the importance of music in the classroom and how when we play it, our students will
become happier and more motivated to learn. This really connected with me as some students really
connect with music and that can be there escape when they are having a rough day. By showing an
interest in music, we are creating a welcoming environment for them. Also, having music playing in the
background while students are working may calm students who are anxious. The background noise may be
irritating for others, and to determine if I play music on a regular basis in my classroom would depend on
my students as I would want to do whatever is best for them. However, I do truly believe that music may be
the key to unlocking the creativity in our students.
Leah Benson
Strategy 3: Story Vines
On page 367 our textbook discusses Story Vines, which are visual representations of stories that
teachers and children create or retell in order to engage in storytelling. The storyteller chooses items to
hand on the vine to help him or her to retell the story. Story vines allow for students to become critical
readers and analyze the storys components as they have to comprehend the story and determine the most
significant parts. Students are able to create visuals to tell the story and organize the main events. Most
importantly, not only are the working on their reading skills when they are initially reading the book but
they are also working on new vocabulary and practicing their oral reading and storytelling skills. Students
are able to retell the story or a process in their own words rather than the exact reading. Story vines
enhance all the language skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking, representing, and viewing), that as
educators we strive to develop in our students.

Story Vines are able to be differentiated for different learning styles and abilities easily. A vine could
be premade with pictures and main events for students to have to sequence, or rather than drawing
pictures, a student could complete an electronic vine. This strategy would help ELL learners with
comprehending the main ideas in the story or to learn different processes in other subject areas.

Story vines are intended to tell stories orally using narrative style, however, there are many other
uses for the story vine. A story vine can symbolize a process. A story vine works well because it shows the
importance of sequence, and can also be used to describe a how to process. For example, a story vine
may be used to describe the process of how to build a snowman or how to make a cake, etc. A story
vine may work well as a timeline, where it can aid in the storyteller in remembering all of the historical
events, which may be seen in a social class but can also work in a language arts classroom. Other ways that
I could incorporate story vines are with biographies, book reports, a get to me project, or an author
study. Through reading this paragraph in our textbook, my mind explores so many possibilities to help my
students become critical readers and also dramatic storytellers.

Leah Benson

Language Arts Inventory #7

This Literacy Inventory is based off the assigned reading of Chapter 3 and 8

Strategy 1: Language Experience Approach

On page 87 our textbook discusses the language experience approach (LEA) and how it is based on
childrens own language and experiences. This approach allows for a group of students or a whole class to
compose a story using their own experiences and their own language. The text is then developed and that
becomes the reading material. This strategy shows the importance and the connections between reading
and writing. There are many advantages of implementing this strategy in the classroom such as:

1. This strategy allows children to build confidence and become even more comfortable with the
reading and writing process.
2. This strategy is a child-centered approach where the children are the ones facilitating the discussion
and the learning, where the teacher is ensuring the discussion does not get off track and writing
down what students say.
3. This strategy aids in comprehension as the student is the author as well as the reader.
4. It creates a sense of belonging as the child is sharing their experiences and allows for the childs life
to be known to the teacher and to other students.

If this activity were to be done individually, I think it would be even more rewarding as students can
then all share their own experiences and write about them. For a younger class where writing may be a
challenge, have students draw and create pictures that describe this experience and then they can verbally
share and present to the class. An activity that stretches from giving students a verbal prompt to giving
students a picture book with no-text came to my mind. During PD session that Kristina Larkin and David
Fuller put on, David described a strategy that he uses with his students. He gives students a picture book
with no text and a stack of post-it notes. The students then write the story that they perceive from the
pictures in their own language on the post-it notes. HOW POWERFUL IS THAT!? This strategy could work
for all students, not just ELL learners, but may be more powerful to a student in an older grade than just
talking about experiences they have. The students are applying critical and creative thinking to develop a
story that connects to the illustrations throughout the story. The story could connect to a personal
experience that they have had, but it doesnt have to. I think the most influential part of the activity is that
allows for our ELL students to share their understanding of the visuals in their own language. This will
lessen the anxiety of having to comprehend the illustration while also trying to ensure that what they
intending to write in English is what they are wanting to say. This strategy could be implemented and
differentiated a number of ways and I cannot wait to discover all of the different ways to implement the
language experience approach into my classroom!
Leah Benson
Strategy 2: Travelling Book Bags
I have always had mixed feelings about assigned home-reading. I love that students are reading at
home, but I never felt that it strengthened the home-school connection. I often asked myself, are students
actually reading at home? or how could I benefit my students more than just getting them to read at
home? In class when we first started discussing the World on Our Shoulders Project, it clicked. Why are we
assigning students to just read twenty minutes a night, when we could have them read and work through
literacy strategies with their families. This is way more beneficial than silent reading!

On page 90 our textbook discusses the idea of travelling book bags, which is very similar to our
backpack project, children take a themed bag of books and activities home to enjoy with their families.
Having a backpack full of a few selections of books and a variety of activities will allow for choice of how the
child and their family chose to respond. My only concern with these travelling book bags is, will families
take the time and use these backpacks with their child? Before reading the textbook I really struggled with
how I was going to get the parents of my students on board with these backpacks but the textbook gave
me some great strategies to implement. I love the idea of using an introductory meeting to provide
opportunities for teachers to help families and caregivers understand their role in helping their child
develop stronger literacy skills. However, a meeting may not be well attended or parents may be
overwhelmed with all of the information they received so by including a letter and an introductory video of
what the families are supposed to be doing with their backpack. Using journal entries will allow for all three
parties- teacher, child, and parent to stay in communication about what should be done with the backpack
and what the expectations are.

For our ELL students in our classrooms, parents may feel overwhelmed because they may not be
strong readers. So, to modify these backpacks, as educators, we need to promote alternatives that families
can use. For example, if a family would like to use an audiobook, have this available for them. Show parents
how to use google translate, Microsoft translate, or itranslate converse so that parents have the ability to
look up words and have the story translated into their mother tongue. Having these options available for
families will only create a more meaningful interaction for the student.

I truly believe that by implementing these backpacks and travelling book bags into our students
lives we are developing a stronger engagement for literacy for our students and we are developing a
stronger connection between home and school. Using these backpacks may take prep time and may be a
challenge to develop but will be so much more successful for our students than just assigning silent home

Leah Benson
Strategy 3: Teaching Spelling
Spelling was always an area that I loved doing in school, however, I remember in my younger grades
of memorizing the words and how they are spelled so I could get 100% on the test rather than knowing the
meaning of the words. On page 315 our textbook discusses teaching spelling in elementary grades. Spelling
instruction is more than learning to spell a given list of words and writing weekly tests. Classroom
programs need to be developmentally appropriate for all students. Spelling tests do not have to be based
on a specific program, but can be words that students are challenged by, words from a novel the students
are studying, or from other subjects such as math or science terminology. The importance of spelling tests
is for students to gain knowledge of the word, how to spell the word correctly and to associate a meaning
with that word.

During my ED 2500 practicum, I was introduced to a strategy that completely changed how I view
weekly spelling tests. My teacher associate had weekly spelling words but students were differentiated into
three groups based on their spelling level. The groupings of were differentiated by the color of paper. The
students did not know the levels of groupings though because she changed the colors every week so it
wasnt as if students who always received red words had higher level words or the yellow words were
students who had lower level words. The colors of paper constantly changed. I really loved this strategy as
it allows for differentiation and other students are not even aware that it is happening. Often times, I feel
students think they are being judged because they are doing something different than other students.

On page 318, the textbook shows an example of a test sheet for pretest of spelling. This example
shows how students can learn the words and master their individualized lists. Students then can self-
correct what words they misspelled and study for the spelling test at the end of the week. It is important as
educators, we need to stress the importance of not just learning the word knowledge. I think a way to
include this within the strategy is to add another column on the test sheet to have students draw or
describe what the word means to them or what the definition of the word is. This allows for students to
create a personal connection to the word through drawing or defining the word. Another way for students
to develop the meaning of the word is to put the word into a proper sentence.

I have always loved spelling as a student because it was something in language arts that I was
actually good at. After reading this textbook, I am much more confident in how I want my spelling classes to
run and what I can do to ensure all of my students succeed.