Amy Fornecker Rider University December 5th, 2011 Dr. McKool ELD 308 Reflective Letter Dear Dr.

McKool, Through class lectures, readings, and field observations this semester I have grown immensely, and begun to form the foundation from which my beliefs pertaining to literacy education originate. I will be taking away from this semester a wide array of opinions regarding literacy education that I hope to one day apply in my own classroom. This course, as well as my experiences in the field with my cooperating teacher, has helped me to form concrete opinions regarding the approach to teaching I will someday take. For example, I have come to understand the imperativeness of implementing an authentic approach to assessment in the classroom. Also, I strongly believe that forming literacy education through a dynamic and comprehensive framework is advantageous to both the students and the teacher. Lastly, I have had the opportunity to grow immensely as a future educator, and I am very grateful for the experiences I have had working in the field throughout this semester. “Effective instruction in language, literature, and the content areas begins with thoughtful, artful organization and planning” (Fountas, Pinnell 13). In terms of creating joyful, efficient, and successful readers, applying Fountas and Pinnell’s approach to literacy learning will be the central focus of reading instruction in my classroom. I strongly believe in the importance and imperativeness of approaching

literacy education through an organized, thoughtful, and dynamic approach. For example, students must become both active and competent readers, thus reading instruction must provide time for explicit instruction and reading for enjoyment. One way I can accomplish this goal is through implementing the three-block framework in my classroom, specifically, the reader’s workshop. Through applying independent reading, guided reading, and literature study to literacy instruction students are receiving a balanced and comprehensive knowledge of literacy. “Integrating all three approaches provides variety in the reading program and also allows for more explicit teaching to help students develop a range of effective strategies” (Fountas, Pinnell 41). I was able to observe the efficiency of the reader’s workshop in the field while observing Mrs. Collin’s fifth grade class. Through using a workshop approach to reading instruction Mrs. Collins was able to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time, while also fostering a great deal of independence amongst her students. Mrs. Collins ensured that her instruction was efficient by using both guided reading and literature study in her classroom. For example, it is necessary for students to receive a great deal of explicit instruction that is designed for their needs through guided reading, but they must also must have an opportunity to become “joyful” readers who view reading as an enjoyable process through literature circles. Since time is limited in the classroom, using guided reading and literature study, as an approach to small-group instruction, is an effective and time-manageable option for teachers. Through my experiences teaching in Mrs. Collin’s class I was able to observe, firsthand, the success of using the reading workshop in the classroom. For example, I had the opportunity to

introduce a text by initially having the class purely enjoy the book through an interactive read-aloud. Next, the students participated the following week in a reading mini-lesson that revisited the text from the week before and explicitly taught a reading strategy that the class was instructed to apply to their own independent reading. Throughout the aforementioned mini-lesson students were engaged and active in the reading workshop through teach and model, guided practice, and independent practice. By having the opportunity to teach a reading workshop in this manner reinforced and strengthened my beliefs in using this framework, because I was able to observe the success it had on both the students learning and my own instruction. Through this course I learned that having students read independently is an integral component to literacy education, but students benefit from multiple forms of instruction and an approach to literacy education must be fashioned accordingly. Therefore, applying a dynamic approach to reading education is essential for effective instruction. Lastly, The elementary school teacher and noteworthy author Donalyn Miller taught me a great deal about teaching young children to read through reading her book The Book Whisperer. For example, both reading at home for pleasure or in school for educational purposes are analogous to one another. Part of the problem with creating lifelong readers, is that reading instruction in school has become far too systematic. Readers are provided with little, if any, choice in what they read in school, resulting in a generation of individuals who detest reading. Also, the teachers themselves may not demonstrate an enthusiasm for reading, which will ultimately transfer to the students. In an attempt to ensure that students in my class are active and effective readers who

enjoy the process of reading, I will strive to carve out as much time from the school day as possible to devote solely to reading, continuously model and emphasize my love for reading, and give readers a great deal of choice in the reading they participate in. Another vital component to literacy education that I strongly believe in is using assessment through a dynamic and evolving approach. For example, assessment should be used continuously through both summative and formative applications, to drive instruction, as an integral component of the curriculum, and emphasize both self-evaluation and active collaboration amongst learners. Assessment is used to evaluate the individual, group, and school as a whole. Therefore, assessment should always be conducted in a variety of ways and used as efficiently as possible. One way I can accomplish this goal is through using authentic assessment throughout the school year in an attempt to create a balance between teaching and testing. “When you systematically observe students as they read and write every day, you are conducting authentic assessment” (Fountas, Pinnell 484). Moreover, by applying an authentic approach to assessment students are not being limited in the amount of time they are allotted for active reading and writing for the purpose of taking a test, instead the teacher can gather data and evidence of the student’s learning while they are engaging in reading and writing practices. Another effective approach to authentic assessment that I observed in the field is Mrs. Collin’s application of performance assessment through the use of rubrics. Mrs. Collins use of rubrics for literacy assessment results in students taking responsibility for their own learning. Also, when students are aware of what is

expected of them, they will take ownership of their learning and work hard to complete the assignment correctly. In conclusion, I have learned so much from this semester and I will continue to learn and grow into the literacy teacher I hope to one day become. I have been given the opportunity to form concrete opinions and beliefs for myself as a teacher that I did not previously possess prior to the start of the semester. As a result of planning, teaching, and observing this semester, I have learned that overall I would like to build a strong community of learners in my classroom that acquire material through a dynamic and evolving approach to teaching.