The image above is an example of my 1st grade students outside of the classroom exploration. In the Spring of my first year of teaching, above grade level readers were chosen for an after-school book club where students learned about the wind power as a sustainable energy resource and then went sailing with the Downtown Sailing Center to see wind power in action. Students applied their foundational skillfluency to learn how to create and use wind power in addition to learning the mechanics of sailing.
Teaching Philosophy: Ensuring Early Childhood Literacy
As an early childhood educator, I work to ensure early childhood literacy for all my students because reading and math readiness is paramount to students’ onward success in school. Literacy by definition is “the ability to use printed written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential” (NCES 2005 – 531). Therefore, as an educator if I am going to cultivate literate and innovative early childhood learners, it is paramount that I incorporate all foundational literacy skills in my curriculum, including reading, writing, math, and programming. A common-core bulletin titled, “Preparing Our Littlest Learners for the 21st Century” outlines the four core competencies of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity and innovation. However, for our young learners in Baltimore City, I would assert it is the responsibility of early childhood educators to ensure all students have the foundational skillsfor learning, which allow students to access the 21st century curriculum (Common Core). To master Common Core State Standards students need to possess foundational reading skills (phonological awareness, phonics [letter recognition and sound], word reading fluency, and reading comprehension); foundational math skills (counting 1 – 100 fluently by 1s and 10s, adding and subtracting numbers 1 – 20, and identifying two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes), foundational computer skills (an understanding of how to use technology to access games, manipulate and capture reality with their personal touch, and learn standard algorithms and the binary alphabet, which can be used to read and communicate). From my classroom experience I conclude that the three aforementioned core competencies are a necessary foundation for future learning in the 21st century.
Overtime my philosophy changed because of my adjustment in responsibility as an educator. Initially, in my first grade placement I was responsible for ensuring early childhood literacy as it applies to furthering each student’s independence as a reader and writer. When I moved to Kindergarten earlier this year I became responsible for a beginning literacy in all subjects, including reading, math, social studies, and science. Consequently I have grown in my overall competency as an educator because I now understand literacy as an all-encompassing term. Therefore, my lessons, teaching ,and student learning has become more integrated to include foundational literacy skills in reading, math, and programming. This shift in philosophy allows my students to flourish academically with an ability to use all foundational skills gained.
Throughout my two years in the classroom I have kept my emphasis on reading and writing literacy. I believe this is important because, as cited by Literacy Works, Inc., “today over 38% of adults in Baltimore City” do not have functional literacy skills, which hinders their ability to “read with [their] children… complete a job application… read instructions on a prescription” (Literacy Works, Inc. 2005-2007). As a result, ensuring students foundational independence as a reader and writer is a matter of access and opportunities. There is an emphasis on reading and writing literacy in my classroom. However, I have refined my practice by including a broader application of literacy based on the expectations of the common core curriculum and the “new literacies” (ILA 2009). New literacies include: “wikis, blogs, avatars, podcasts, mobile technologies, and many others unimagined at the beginning of [ ] schooling” (ILA 2009). The conclusion is that “traditional definitions of reading, writing and communication… are insufficient in the 21st century” (ILA2009). In acknowledgement of the new literacies I have refined my understanding of literacy to now include ensuring foundational skillsfor my students in programming, math, reading, and writing. To improve my practice I have discarded the singular definition of literacy as the ability to read and write independently, and now I define it as the ability to apply foundational reading, writing, math, and programming skills efficiently to solve problems and begin to think critically about the world.