I have spent my summer researching the administration of reading programs. It is important to know as a parent and a teacher how children learn to read, it is connected to everything we can learn or aspire to. Reading does not happen by magic but once it does happen, it is magical. Everyone requires different amounts of time and experience but there are six key components that are routine in making this happen. Intentional review of these skills can ground us when we reach different forms of literacy, different expectations for knowledge at any age. It is imagery, film, video, song, poetry, fiction, non fiction, manuals, maps, audio prose, etc. Adults may experience the same struggles with media literacy, online gaming for example, that a high school student experiences reading a professional peer reviewed journal for an Advanced Placement course. On this blog is a page with the 6 skills and their usefulness to high school education (link)
Familiarity, repetition and understanding the connection between the six literacy skills and skilled reading led a college professor, Christyn Dundorf of Portland Community College to create a simple diagram on “how the six skills contribute to skilled reading.” Readwritethink.org offers tips for parents for promoting greater fluency.
Similarly, I discovered through an interview with my town librarian, that her training with these six skills did not change the format of her read aloud activities, but allowed her to move her focus from being “entertaining to being more deliberate in what would be gained by parents and children.” The Vermont Department of Libraries and the Vermont Center for the Book began training librarians in emergent literacy in 2010 and plan to implement a second phase this year based upon the success of this program. Our librarian used her knowledge to model “simple, intentional methods and patterns of speech that parents could continue at home.” With children she shares a story, as an “aside”, parents are given the purpose for the method used to present the story. For example, a poem is read aloud and children repeat, shout, whisper, speak or sing stanzas while the librarian can turn aside to parents and affirm that playing with sound helps build phonological awareness. When children rush up to touch a picture within a story, aside parents are assured that this is not a negative reaction. It is part of the purpose behind print motivation. The motto of the Lanpher Library is to read, write, sing, talk, play as many ways as possible. This is literacy.
It seems to me that review of emergent literacy skills can be brought into high school and adult communities as well. Not everyone is exposed to deliberate learning and missing a component might be a cause for frustration encountering new literacy. Our town librarian used her training to team up with outreach programs that reach illiterate populations. Incarcerated parents, families displaced by domestic violence, people in difficult situations still seek educational opportunities for themselves and their families. Allowing learning to be modeled deliberately by more people keeps learning from becoming an impossibility. By the way, library memberships and circulations are higher than they were before. (links)