• Journal

    Day 16 Teaching of Reading – Assessment & Classroom Instruction

    Read aloud Poem: Abu Ben Adhemby Leigh Hunt is a poem that encourages one to understand that to love God is to love your neighbour.  This french poem has been included here for your enjoyment

    Abou Ben Adhem

    Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
    Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
    And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
    Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
    An angel writing in a book of gold:—
    Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
    And to the presence in the room he said,
    “What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
    And with a look made of all sweet accord,
    Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
    “And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
    Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
    But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
    Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

    The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
    It came again with a great wakening light,
    And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
    And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

    Read aloud story: Brer Turtle Helps Out is an African American tale with the message do unto others what you would like them to do to you.

    As assessments are necessary to assess learning we learnt that they should not be ad hoc but rather systematic and purposeful evaluations that are formal and informal.  It provides a wholistic gauge to inform at what stage is the learner.

    They are helpful to inform action plans/ scheme of works that can be forwarded to a teacher at the next level to help the new teacher know areas of weakness that need attention.  Assessments lay the foundation to build upon for the teacher to find creative means and ways of overcoming any learning hurdles and difficulties which may hamper the introduction of a new lesson.

    According to my lecturer Sister Annetta, “if there is no learning there is no teaching”.



  • Journal

    Day 18 Teaching of Reading – QAR Strategy

    We reviewed QAR and its four (4) ways to find an answer:

    1. Knowledge Level
    2. Comprehension Level
    3. Author to Analyse
    4. Synthesis (there are no value judgements.; as long as the response is logical the learner should be giving credit for it)

    The benefit of graphic organizers were also shared with us to help the students organize their thoughts. For example we created a star and labelled each point of inquiry as follows:

    1. Who are the characters?
    2. What?
    3. When?
    4. Why?
    5. How?
    6. Where?

    Below are two examples of a Graphic Organizer derived from:

    Agee, A. (1999). Animals at Work. Easy Strategies and Mini-Lessons That Build Content Area Reading Skills.


    We also looked at word maps in the form of Venn Diagrams that can help students with their vocabulary development.

    For me the cinquain summary was the highlight of the evening where we were asked to summarize the Day’s lesson.

    • Line One – 1 word
    • Line Two – 2 words describing Line One
    • Line Three – 3 action verbs
    • Line Four – 2 words related to Line One & 2 words related to Line Two
    • Line Five – synonym for Line One

    My Cinquain Summary:

    • Strategy
    • Helpful. Content.
    • Understand; think; recall
    • Reading; techniques; Science; Math
    • Roadmap


  • Journal

    Day 11 Teaching of Reading – Reading Strategies DRTA, QAR, SQ3R, SQ5R

    Read aloud poem: Solomon Grundy

    The Read aloud story had a focus on preservation of our air.

    DRTA Reading Strategy (Russell Stauffer) – Directing the Reading Thinking Activity

    Teacher decides on three parts of the book where the student would be encouraged to think and formulates two fact related questions for each marked stop and a question that evokes the student’s thinking. In a nutshell the student is required to preview, predict, read then affirm/ disaffirm their predictions.

    Teacher invites the students to examine the cover and think about what the book is about and then share their ideas.  No idea is rejected or judged.  The teacher begins to read the passage up until the first planned stop.  At this point the student is asked whether the predictions they made before the passage was read, aligned with their current thoughts after the passage was read.  To guide their responses, the students are asked the three prepared questions to stimulate discussion.  This process is repeated at each of the three reading junctures.  The activity helps the student become active in the reading process, as it promotes independent reading, improves the student’s comprehension and develops their ability to gauge their perceptive skills. The selection of exciting reading material for this exercise motivates the student.

    We also looked at the SQR3 Reading Strategy and the QAR Strategy where students are required to think deeply and locate the answers in the passage or text and others from their own experience.



  • Journal

    Day 13 Teaching of Reading – Bloom’s Taxonomy and Strategies

    Read aloud poem: Solomon Grundy

    The Read aloud story had a focus on preservation of our air.

    As we delved deeper into using Bloom’s Taxonomy, the recognition of types of questioning became more readily identifiable as we formulated each type of question after reading different passages.  We also looked at pictures and formulated questions for each level.

    Wee were introduced to   m  e  t  a  c  o  g  n  i  t  i  o  n  which harnesses the idea that we must be able to self examine and become inner aware of ourselves as thinking and learning beings.  We were asked to brainstorm and write the words which readily came to mind in an exercise called word splash. I present my words below:


    We created a visual tool that can be utilized to get the learner thinking about what is fact and what is opinion.  we also revisited SQ3R. This reading comprehension methodology is designed to promote retention and recall.

    • Survey
    • Question by employing the five whys: who? what? when? where? why?
    • Read for a sense of the material and read for relevance by making notes
    • Recall/ Recite and summarize the material into key points
    • Review the material and ask deeper questions



  • Journal

    Day 12 Teaching of Reading – Comprehension

    Read aloud poem: Blossoms by Frank Dempster Sherman (May 6, 1930 – September 19, 1916) .  If you love the Pouis tree you would enjoy the poet’s description of the life of their blossoms as they fly and dance and disappear…

    Read aloud story: The Fisherman and His Wife by Shirley C. Raines and Rebecca Isbell. While the version read at class was short, and easy to follow there are many published versions of this German fairytale.

    The pitfalls of greed resulting in discontentment and the devaluation of close relationships was the central theme of the story.  

    We had an invaluable lesson in pedagogical practice for teaching comprehension skills as we went through many short stories and pictorial examples to help us experience the learner’s process through the teacher’s application of the different skill sets.  Comprehension skills are vital to prepare the learner to make informed choices to navigate life.  The skill components explored to construct meaning were the:

    • literal – recall, sequencing, main idea identification
    • interpretive/ inferential – making generalizations from interpretation
    • critical – identifying fact and opinion, real and unreal, bias and propaganda
    • creative – creating time, events, characters and dialogue through drawing, painting and drama

    I enjoyed predicting outcomes, summarizing information and drawing conclusions as an expression of the interpretive skill of comprehension.  We  touched on figurative language and the use of context clues to assist the learner to grasp the skill.

    Training children to focus on fact helps them make informed choices where the media competes for the mind’s attention.  This skill helps the learner to assess what they read, see and hear,  identify literary devices that may be used to persuade us, which can ultimately influence product and people choices in everyday life, even though the information presented may not be entirely true.

    The creative skill  resonated with me the most as it reminded me of Jean Piaget’s  constructivist theory of discovery through engagement. The teacher may ask the children to create a drama through dialogue or invite the learner to change the beginning, middle or the end of the story.  This stimulates their imagination as they combine their ideas and experience with the material to create new expressed thought.

    This lesson helped me understand the value of context clues in a piece of writing, whether it be through the use of synonyms, experience, direct explanations and familiar expressions and cultural sayings.

    We looked at Bloom’s taxonomy where the learner is introduced to a methodical way of breaking down the reading material through asking questions that start off on a basic level, then grow more complexed with each question.  The following five questions were looked at in a variety of passages.  We were also given sentences and asked to identify the relevant question that would provoke the response.  I found a site that gave meaningful examples of how the questions can be posed to the learner.

    The  levels of questioning and the type of responses solicited follow:

    1. Knowledge – lower level factual responses
    2. Comprehension – lower level factual responses
    3. Application – higher level interpretive responses
    4. Analysis – higher level demonstrative and experiential responses
    5. Synthesis – higher level  creative responses
    6. Evaluation – higher level judgmental responses



  • Journal

    Day 9 Teaching of Reading – Teaching Strategies Vowels and Consonants Infants Year I & II and Standard I and up

    Read aloud poem: When Mother Reads Aloud by Author Unknown celebrates reading aloud by the child’s parents:

    When Mother reads aloud, far lands
    Seem very near and true;
    I cross the deserts’ gleaming sands,
    Or hunt the jungle’s prowling bands,
    Or sail the ocean blue.
    Far heights, whose peaks the cold mists shroud,
    I scale, when Mother reads aloud.

    When Mother reads aloud, I long
    For noble deeds to do…
    To help the right, redress the wrong;
    It seems so easy to be strong,
    So simple to be true.
    Oh, thick and fast the visions crowd
    My eyes, when Mother reads aloud.

    Read aloud story: The Wolf and the Dog a fable from Aesop. The message was clear.  Freedom is priceless and one should be content with oneself, as it is said the grass always looks greener on the other side.

    We looked at effective ways to introduce consonants and vowels to learners at the level Infants Year I and Infants Year II.  Vowels have short sounds and long sounds. We also looked at consonant blends, chunking, consonant and vowel digraphs and basic sight words.  Effective teaching strategies to introduce these concepts are the one -two punch activity where the learner is encouraged to punch with one arm when they hear the onset and leave the arm extended, then punch with the other when they hear the rime.

    The letters ‘c’ and ‘g’ are to be given special focus as they make different sounds depending on their placement to other letters.

    Before vowels /a/ /o/ and /u/ the letter ‘C‘ makes a ‘k‘ sound or hard sound when immediately proceeded by vowel:

    • /a/ as in car
    • /o/ as in corn

    The letter ‘C‘ makes a ‘s‘ sound or soft sound when immediately proceeded by either vowel:

    • /i/as in circle
    • /e/ as in cent
    • /I/as in cycle

    The letter ‘G‘ makes a soft sound when it is proceeded by vowels /i/ /e/ and /y/ as in:

    • gin
    • gesture
    • gym

    Before vowels /a/ /o/ and /u/the letter ‘G‘ makes a hard sound as in:

    • gap
    • garden
    • good
    • gulp

    The semi vowels should also be introduced at this level. ‘Y‘ and ‘W‘ are also phonetically known as glides and appear in words such as sky, fly, my, hurry and yes. In those words /y/ represents the sound “ee”.  In words such as water, /w/ represents the sound “oo”.  In cow and in mouse /w/ makes the sound .  Therefore like /c/ and /g/, the letter ‘y‘ /j/ sound. and /w/ possess the ability to make the sound of letters that proceed them.

    Here is a teaching strategy to introduce phonetic sounds:


    Here are rules for an activity to reinforce a lesson for Standard I and up as part of the KWL strategy to encourage children to discuss and share what they know about an item in which they are interested.  The KWL strategy tests the learner’s knowledge of the subject of the story and gets the learner thinking about what they want to find out from the story.  After the story is read the learner is given the opportunity to share what they have learnt.  Ideally in a classroom the board can be divided into three columns to record the students’ responses to the questions: | K | W| L |.  Then a show and tell activity can be conducted.


    We were introduced to the following consonant rules:


    To reinforce learning the learners can be given an activity, Sight Word Bingo, after specific words were introduced, where they must look for the identified words in magazines or newspaper and circle them.


  • Journal

    Day 8 Teaching of Reading – Language Acquisition

    Read aloud poem: Trees by Alfred Joyce Kilmer (December 6, 1886 – July 30, 1918).  It celebrates the beauty of God’s creation as it personifies the tree as a woman who leans on God for her quiet strength.

    Read aloud story: The Blackbird and the Peacocks by Eric Carle. The story reminded me of a local story of a tortoise who wanted to attend the party of Birds and fly, who ended up with a cracked back.  Simply put the writer’s message is to accept one’s physical attributes and enjoy all that makes one unique.  As the Desiderata cautions,

    “Be yourself.  Especially do not feign affection….”

    We started with the important reminder that the mental health of the learner affects learning saturation.  Therefore the teacher must be mindful to recognise when a learner is not confident, anxious or distracted, especially where circumstances at home negatively affect the learner’s progress.

    Language Acquisition

    Language has many functions. It is instrumental, regulatory, informative, personal, imaginative, interactional and heuristic.  We were asked to identify the function of language in a given statement to measure our understanding of the functions of language.  Almost a history lesson, my takeaways were that language evolves over time and that all people have language as it is a tool of communication.  We were taken on a journey of the development of the English language through its origins in Old Norse, spoken by the Vikings and Anglo Saxons, the Norman’s conquest in 1066 where for 300 years French and Latin were important languages in England, and the influence of the East Midland dialect to produce Standard English in the 1500s.

    In Trinidad and Tobago our language evolved from immigrants pidgin and their creolised English.  We had a fun time demonstrating our understanding of our Trinidadian dialect by looking at the grammar rules:

    • Question form of a sentence – We making chow?
    • Multiple negatives – She en eating no food
    • Unmarked verb as an adjective – Condense milk
    • Pronouns – allyuh, dem, dey

    We were introduced to the concept of the Bio Poem and had to create a Bio Poem in the format:

    • Line 1: First name only
    • Line 2: 4 descriptive traits
    • Line 3: SIbling/ friend of
    • Line 4: Lover of
    • Line 5: Who feels
    • Line 6: Who needs
    • Line 7: Who gives
    • Line 8: Who fears
    • Line 9: Who wants to see (3 things)
    • Line 10: Resident of
    • Line 11: Last name only

    Here is my Bio Poem:


    the creative soul, who will make you laugh, encourage and inspire you;

    Friend of anyone who is up for a loyal, caring fun friendship;

    Who loves to spend time at the beach;

    Who feels life is worth living and sharing because God is awesome; and love makes the ultimate difference in how we treat others;

    Who needs to be loved, appreciated & respected;

    Who gives time to increasing her learning, time to heal and time to indulge in self care;

    Who fears no one but God, fears not what people may think and say negatively about her;

    Who wants to experience a safari, see more people just get along & to see the black Caribbean child advance;

    Resident of the Global village, the country of Trinidad and Tobago more precisely



  • Journal

    Day 7 Teaching of Reading – Literacy

    Read aloud poem: The Letters at School by author of Very Naughty LettersMary Mapes Dodge delights all readers with her skillful presentation of the alphabet. Enjoy!

    The Letters at School
    by Mary Mapes Dodge

    One day the letters went to school,
    And tried to learn each other;
    They got so mixed ‘t was really hard
    To pick out one from t’ other.

    A went in first, and Z went last;
    The rest all were between them,–
    K,L and M, and N, O, P,–
    I wish you could have seen them!

    B,C,D,E, and J, K, L,
    So jostled well their betters;
    Q,R,S,T–I grieve to say–
    Were very naughty letters.

    Of course, ere long, they came to words–
    What else could be expected?
    Till E made D,J,C, and T
    Decidedly dejected.

    Now, through it all the Consonants
    Were rudest and uncouthest,
    While all the pretty Vowel girls
    Were certainly the smoothest.

    And simple U kept far from Q,
    With face demure and moral,
    “Because,” she said, “we are, we two,
    So apt to start a quarrel!”

    But spiteful P said, “Pooh for U!”
    (Which made her feel quite bitter),
    And calling O,L,E to help,
    He really tried to hit her.

    Cried A, “Now E and C, come here!
    If both will aid a minute,
    Good P will join in making peace,
    Or else the mischief’s in it.”

    And smiling E, the ready sprite,
    Said, “Yes, and count me double.”
    This done, sweet peace shone o’er the scene,
    And gone was all the trouble!

    Meanwhile, when U and P made up,
    The Cons’nants look about them,
    And kissed the Vowels, for you see,
    They couldn’t do without them.

    Read aloud story: La Diablesse from Folklore and Legends of Trinidad & Tobago
    Book by Gérard Besson.  I always look forward  to the read aloud as they relax me and stimulate my imaginative juices which puts me in readiness to absorb the day’s lesson.

    We were reminded to keep Howard Gardner’s ‘8 ways of being smart’, multiple intelligence modalities at the forefront of our mind:

    1. Musical-rhythmic and harmonic
    2. Visual-spatial
    3. Academic-Linguistic-verbal
    4. Logical-mathematical
    5. Bodily-kinesthetic
    6. Interpersonal
    7. Intrapersonal
    8. Naturalistic
    9. Existentialist-spiritual (added after 1999)
    10. Teaching-pedagogical (proposed addition in 2016)

    We explored the benefits of literacy to the individual, family, community and the wider society. Literacy helps us negotiate and make informed choices, evaluate situations and circumstances, innovate and advance technologically.  It was stated that literacy gives people the power to heal their lives and achieve their goals.  Those are actualities I subscribe to.  In my estimation information literacy which is the ability to know where and how to access information is of great importance.  Critical literacy which helps a person discern and discriminate information, ask questions and formulate perceptions from interactions with people, media and their environment is essential and beneficial to navigating through life.  Added to those two, quantitative literacy which measures one’s ability to interact with numbers, fill forms and grasp mathematical information, would be my third essential literacy modality.

    We touched on the factors affecting the learner’s reading ability which include the learner’s physical ability, such as, sight, hearing and speech.  The learner’s mental health and their attitude affects the learner’s ability to absorb.  Based on my experience as a student in school, the teacher’s attitude equally affects the learner’s ability to learn.

    The introduction of poetry in a lesson has major benefits as it:

    • reinforces vocabulary and grammar skills
    • supports the building blocks of literacy
    • stimulates learning in a fun way
    • promotes memorization through rhyme and cadence

    We were introduced to the acrostic poem using each letter of our first name:

    Motion and movement keep her balanced

    Alluring but amusing, she makes you laugh what a talent!

    Likeable and loveable if you decide to get close

    Authentic, a true friend and confidante at your side through your best and worse

    Inspiring others by her quest to excel, so stay around her and you can only do well

    Kindhearted loyal friend to ensure you will never see hell

    Adaptable with a resilience to life’s circumstances & tres belle!


  • Journal

    Day 6 Teaching of Reading – Emergent Literacy

    Read aloud poem: Have You ever seen? by Author Unknown dishes up a clever play on words that highlights the complexity and nonsensical somewhat illogical nature of the English Language:

    Have you ever seen a sheet on a river bed?
    Or a single hair from a hammer’s head?
    Has the foot of a mountain any toes?
    And is there a pair of garden hose?

    Does the needle ever wink its eye?
    Why doesn’t the wing of a building fly?
    Can you tickle the ribs of a parasol?
    Or open the trunk of a tree at all?

    Are the teeth of a rake ever going to bite?
    Have the hands of a clock any left or right?
    Can the garden plot be deep and dark?
    And what is the sound of the birch’s bark?

    Read aloud story: The Jumbie of the Silk Cotton Tree from the Book: Folklore and Legends of Trinidad and Tobago  compiled by Gerard A. Besson. Stories folklore and legends were centered around the Silk Cotton tree in various cultures around the world.

    We looked at emergent literacy, a viewpoint attributed to world literacy advocate, New Zealander, Dr, Marie Clay (DBE) (1927 – 2007). Remarkably her research on Emergent Reading Behaviour (1966) and Reading Recovery culminated into her focus on early intervention to encourage learning development in children with disabilities and special needs.  The stages of emergent literacy overlap and develop in the observed sequence:

    1. Emergent/ cue/ selective stage – Look at print and re read from memorization of books read to them
    2. Early reading/ spelling sound stage – Look at words L to R, (beginning and ending letters) to decode patterns
    3. Fluent stage – Say unfamiliar words to decode messages; eye scan multiple words; express their thoughts
    4. Consolidation – Read and develop an interest in books as messages written by someone
    5. Flexibility – Use silent reading, skimming texts, make reading choices based on interesting material

    For me this all ties in with the ideas posited by the cognitive development theorists that place emphasis on using relevant tools and material at each developmental stage of the learner.  The home influence as a precursor and contributor to learning and reading development could not be overemphasized,  as the learner’s environment is a key input in the process of the learner developing reading readiness.  Early intervention is the best foundation!  The following tips were shared:

    • Write with children/ the learner in mind
    • Role play using Reader’s theatre
    • Give the learner 2 sentences to read
    • To build confidence let the learner read material from lower levels. For example a learner in Standard 5 can be given material from Standard 3
    • Encourage the use of fingers to point
    • Get creative.  For example use sandpaper to trace letters
    • Celebrate new knowledge and the learner’s progress
    • Stop focusing the learner on what they are not able to do yet
    • Use material the learner is interested in

    I point when I read and thoroughly enjoy shared reading.  My main takeaway today is that the learner learns best when they are having FUN with a teacher who CELEBRATES them,


  • 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