In our province I feel the definition of reading fits the current world. Our Language Curriculum document grades 1-8 has a foot note that states “The word text is used in this document in its broadest sense, as a means of communication that uses words, graphics, sounds, and/or images, in print, oral, visual, or electronic form, to present information and ideas to an audience.” page 4. I feel educators in our school in particular have expanded their understanding of ways to use a variety of text for reading. Our bookroom is filled with non fiction texts, posters, procedures, narratives, pattern books, word less books, magazines, advertisements, cereal boxes, song lyrics and poems. We also use online texts, CDs of texts, Shared Reading binders filled with overheads and CDs with a variety of texts. We also have some online magazine subscriptions for the older grades. As teachers we use multiple types of text and I believe our students understand that reading is making meaning from the many images and sounds that they encounter.
I also feel in our building the transfer has occurred in the area of writing. Students in our school write procedures, poems, narratives, persuasive texts, letters, emails, blog posts, announcements, tweets, texts and songs. I believe that students need to see writing as a way to communicate a message regardless of its form. Some students use their own devices to write, some use their SEA computers, some use the tech in the school, some use markers, pencils and paint. Some students also use their own voices to record their messages.Writing is conveying a message or demonstrating understanding.
I recently attended a Kindergarten professional development session on Interactive Writing. I am a strong advocate for Interactive Writing and have been for a long time. I have read many resources and have led a book study on Interactive Writing. ” Interactive writing has been described by Swartz (2001) as “a teaching method in which children and teacher negotiate what they are going to write and then share the pen to construct the message.” Interactive writing is a cooperative event in which text is jointly composed and written. ” as posted on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_writing An interactive writing lesson can be done in a large group, small group or in a one to one session. During an interactive writing lesson the teacher works with the child or group to determine the purpose of the message and what the message will say. Together we negotiate the content. They count out the words and repeat the message several times. Then they write the message together. The sharing of the pen occurs when the child comes up and takes the pen and records the message. The teacher might write the tricky words or fill in words depending on the time and the attention of the group. During the interactive experience, the teacher addresses letter formation, print conventions such as capitals, spaces and periods. The group will stretch out the words and discuss the sounds they hear in a word and the teacher will fill in any missing sounds. For example, “Yes, you heard the sounds m and t in the word meet. That’s the first and last sound in the word. Lets write that down. Who hears the middle sound? Oh, you hear e. Hmm, we hear its letter sound instead of its short e sound. In this word we have two ee.” The teacher guides the students through the writing of the text. Interactive Writing is an extremely powerful experience. It’s a strategy I use throughout the day in various situations.
Now, back to the earlier paragraphs on the expanded definition of text. The workshop focused on the physical writing of a marker to paper. This is the definition seen in many resources. I feel that definition is a little dated. In my classroom, I sit with students and we do interactive writing in various ways. I will take a digital photo of a student and then sit with the child and together come up with a message to send their parents at work. On the iPad I will click the email button and together we will talk through the message. “How do emails start? Do you want to use Dear or Hi? You know how to spell Mom. You type it now. What do you want to say about your photo?” Together we go through the process of deconstructing the sentence, counting out of the words and talking about the sounds in the words. We then co type the message. I will type some and the child will type some. I believe this is an interactive experience. The purpose is showing students that they can write using various tools. Writing is not simply just putting a marker to paper. Writing is also typing, I also believe it’s recording a voice and having a tool such as Dragon Dictate translate the voice to text. How many adults use Suri on their iPhones? Are they writing texts and messages? Do we ‘count’ this as writing? Why or why not?
In class we have students respond to blog posts. On our collaborative blog http://wecanseeprojectsharingspace.blogspot.ca/ We read the comments and messages and together we respond. Sometimes it’s done in a shared experience when I do the physical typing, sometimes the posts are done as a modelled writing lesson, and sometimes it’s an interactive writing experience where we share the keyboard.
So, I ask that if you are in my classroom and you are ‘reading the walls’, you understand that interactive writing is also occurring on the SMARTboard and on the iPads. Interactive writing is not only the marker to the paper pieces that are posted. Our definition of text has widened. Now our definition of the instructional approaches to writing needs to be expanded.
I feel as an education system, we need to move beyond the definition of interactive writing as ‘sharing the pen’ and redefine it as ‘sharing the tools’.
What are your thoughts?
How Language & Literacy Come Together, K-2