• Journal

    Day 5 Teaching of Reading – The Reading Process

    Read-aloud The Giving Tree by Shei Silverstein presented a stark reality of how mankind draws resources from nature, to depletion without giving back in order to sustain the balance and benefits from a symbiotic relationship.  In one sense it personified the tree as a mother who is ever giving, ever nurturing.  Poem of the day was entitled If – by Rudyard Kipling (1865 -1936). 

    If you can keep your head when all about you
        Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
        But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
        Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
        And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
        If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
        And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
        Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
        And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
        And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
        And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
        To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
        Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
        Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
        If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
        With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
        And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Kipling wrote Jungle Book and the nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep, which I never realised encapsulated the bullying he experienced as a child in a foster home:

    Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes, Sir; yes, Sir; three bags full.
    One for the Master, one for the Dame–
    None for the Little Boy that cries down the lane.

    I read because I can and I because I love to read.  Having been exposed to the reading process its complexity is evident.  As a cognitive, social, developmental, language, affective and physiological process it begins somewhere at birth and finds its end in a constant state of evolution.  The process provides an efferent experience through the provision of new knowledge and an aesthetic experience through its sensory appeal to our emotions.  Therefore it naturally involves decoding using the senses coupled with past and present environmental experiences.  When it came to the pedagogical approach to reading  three models were identified:

    1. In the top down approach the teacher shares about a topic that the learner is familiar with, without breaking down the material into its phonetic components, for example. The teacher reads the story (input) and the student processes the information and forms their own meaning (output).  It reminds me of  ‘comprehension’ activities at elementary school where a series of questions requiring written responses, followed a printed or dictated passage.
    2. The bottom up approach introduces the reading lesson/ story with a focus on deconstructing the written text from the basic unit.  For example the teacher may start by saying, “Let’s talk about dogs” and follow through to, “let’s look at the words (phonemes) we will come across and how they are used within the story,” to, “now let’s read!” In this approach the input is derived from both the teacher’s questioning to stimulate and cue the student, as well as the pupil’s recall of their interaction and experience with the subject.  The output is the meaning the student has derived from the step by step teacher student exchange and the reading lesson material.
    3. The interactive approach is described as a blend of the two approaches using selective elements of each as inputs to the reading process. For example the teacher may extract information from the written text to help the student decode and derive meaning about the material (bottom up) which the learner may have been introduced to before (top down).

    Naturally we explored the theorists behind the reading process. Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was most captivating from the point of view that children learn through play and discovery.  As a result the material given to them for learning must be applicable to their developmental stage. The sensorimotor stage named object permanence as a milestone; the preoperational stage cited as a milestone, the emergence of language with perceptive expressions that rejected logic; With learners exhibiting characteristics applicable



  • Journal

    Day 4 Teaching of Reading – Ready or Not

    The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf as told to Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith was an amazing read-aloud!  It certainly wet my appetite to read aloud, twists on children stories that have been staple favourites.  The poem Words added a soothing contrast to the read-aloud story to prepare me for the evening’s lecture.

    One reflective takeaway was that learners learn best when they are READY.  Whether relevant meaningful instruction is given or active participation and practice is encouraged, or modalities such as Reader’s theatre is employed the student will not learn until they are interested and ready.  For different learners being ready has different meanings.  The tactile learner, for example, responds best to the sense of touch; being able to turn the pages or feel different textures or objects related to the lesson stimulates their need for a hands on experience.

    Another key point was that the reading process is complete only when comprehension is attained. Some persons may be able to call the words of a sentence but do not understand the idea or expressed thought that the group of words is meant to convey.

    I am now more aware of the importance of order in a lesson.  Order exists in our sequence of reading from left to right and from top to bottom.  Order helps to orient the learner and create patterns of expectation.  For example this class will not be the same for me if Sister Annetta does not start with a story and/ or a poem as I look forward to this initial engagement before we dive into the lecture.

    Equally important is the material shared with the learner.  It must be something of interest. Males may be more sensory and perceptual learners while females may be more affective learners. A learner’s experience influences their engagement with learning.

    We had to create an alphabet related to our learning. Enjoy!

    A attitude  B books  C call & answer  D draw, dictate  E excitement  F focus  G grasp content  H hear  I inspire, interpret  J join the fun  K knowledge  L listen, love reading  M message, motivate, moral  N new material  O orate  P pace oneself, poetry, prepare  Q quiet place, question  R repeat, relax  S syntax, social process  T talk & tell, translate  U utter, understand  V visualize  W write, wissdom, win  X xenial  Y youth, yes we can read  Z zeal


  • Journal

    Day 3 Teaching of Reading – Everyone is Intelligent

    We were treated to Read Aloud The Wolf and the Lamb as well as the poem Precious Stones by Christina Rosetti.  Our collective contributions were referred to as ‘reciprocal learning’ as our individual varied expressions of thought regarding the class content enriched our altogether learning experience.

    Guided and shared reading is a technique that encourages students to read and follow.  As a mode of transmitting learning teachers should include the use of visuals to encourage the participation of all the senses.  This helps as each student learns differently.

    We looked at the Multiple Intelligence Model by Howard Gardener. It certainly is a concept that empowers all as it helps us discover our multiple intelligences as we assess our strengths and in the words of Thomas Armstrong, “ways of being smart”.

    Assess yourself

    The cone of learning created an aha moment for me as it reinforced the value of learning by doing.  Our remarkable brain relies on cognitive stimulus and processes for recall:

    • 10% of what we read
    • 20% of what we hear
    • 30% of what we see
    • 50% of what we hear & see
    • 70% of what we say and do/ write
    • 90% of what we do

    Further reading on the Cone of Learning by researcher Edgar Dale proved helpful to visually understand what techniques are most helpful to produce active learners.


  • Journal

    Day 2 Teaching of Reading – Literacy

    I love to read aloud!

    Today I learnt that stories are great ways to begin lessons, to connect the teacher with the student, to connect the student with their creative and imaginative self, with the goal to stimulate learning.

    Class began with the story of The Knee High Man by Julius Lester where the theme of self actualization was evident.  Then we decoded reading:

    1. Word Identification
    2. Vocabulary Acquisition
    3. Comprehension

    Here are some more takeaways. Reading and literacy are inextricably bound to each other.  Just as we cannot separate the clouds from the sky, if a person cannot read, functional literacy will be a challenge.  Reading is important not just for ourselves to negotiate our existence in the world, but also to help us become useful contributors within our community and spheres of influence.

    There are many types of literacy such as academic literacy, media literacy, numerical literacy, political, digital and financial literacy, to name a few.  Is it ignorant to postulate that literacy only encompasses the ability to read and write as literacy transcends many facets of one’s human existence?  Assuredly, yes.  As an aside I certainly think that a focus on sexual literacy in schools can help teens make better informed choices as it relates to their sexual behaviours.

    Another valuable nugget from class discussion was that literacy uses language.  For us to express language we utilize phonology (speech sounds), orthography (spelling patterns), morphology (composition/formation of the written word), graphology (shape of the language characters) syntax (grammar rules), and semantics (word meaning).

    Upon reflection I feel fortunate that English is my arterial language as it is riddled with language complexities and exceptions.


  • Journal

    Day 1 Teaching of Reading – Ready, set, go!

    I was there early anxiously awaiting the start of class and at the end I was pleasantly stirred up to embrace all the course promised to offer, not just from the teaching and content but from the imminent deposits made to my pedagogical bank from the experiences shared by my classmates from different parts of Trinidad and Tobago and the region.

    I became reacquainted with the word paucity which I intend to colour my next speech at an upcoming Toastmasters Club Meeting.  At class the concept of multiple intelligences was introduced to categorize the array of human talent that may be highly evident in facets of a human’s talent demonstration while a paucity of talent was not present in other areas.  For example, persons who display exceptional talent in the area of gymnastics may display less ‘intelligence’ in other areas.

    At the core of the lecture was the tenet that every teacher is a teacher of reading and ought to create a learning environment that is relevant, creative and FUN for students.


  • Waterwheel Poetry

    Evergreen ‘Ever Grateful

    It’s funny how life’s situations keeps us evergreen and ever grateful

    Mountains military salute all day long while the birds sing their songs and the flowers dance in the wind…….evergreen ever grateful

    If I never received those words like blows on my back and in my face I genuinely could not measure the breadth of God’s grace……….evergreen ever grateful

    If I never went into minus $$ dollars with dependent needs to meet HOW could I have ever measured the sweet awesome taste of dew in the morning provision from heaven through means I could never imagine?

    Like all paid medical expenses and an unexpected blessing that became a vacation………I’m evergreen ever grateful

    Stars echo the light of opportunities that are endless that make sense if our sensibilities are in the right place in the season of harvest….reap what you so….what you plant is what grows…what you plan propels your destiny…..

    Evergreen ever grateful for the life I lead, the parents I have the son I have been given, the persons that rhythm me to play beautiful music so that my purpose resonates

    Rooted. Blossoms. Bearing full fruit.

    Evergreen Ever grateful