Tag Archives: literacy methods courses

Intertwining Digital Technology Into Literacy Methods Courses

Pooja and I (Clare) did an analysis of 6 literacy teacher educators who truly intertwined digital technology into their literacy methods courses. (Book chapter will be published soon and we will post that info.) In the meantime I thought this chart might be useful for literacy teacher educators who are preparing for the upcoming school year.

Overall Goal: Teaching 2.0
Specific Goals Example
Make literacy classes participatory ·      Post comments on each other’s work (e.g., Wall Wisher, Text tagging, Voice Thread)

·      Post comments in asynchronous time

·      Provide student teachers with feedback on-line and encourage them to respond to the feedback

·      During class student teachers post questions or contribute comments to a shared space

·      Before class student teachers post comments about the readings

·      Create Wordles when analyzing a text

Create an infrastructure for accessing resources and for sharing resources ·      Develop a repository of resources on a university platform (e.g., Blackboard) or on their own website

·      Share books, videos, websites on a class Wiki

·      Use DT tools (e.g., Smartboard) to access info on the spot while teaching

·      Access materials/videos for use in teaching (e.g., Globe Theatre productions of Shakespearean plays)

Provide authentic learning experiences ·      Student teachers make an iMovie on a specific topic (e.g., on bullying)

·      Analyze videos student teachers created during their practice teaching

·      Skype with authors they are reading

·      Participate in teacher communities by contributing to blogs and Twitter feeds

·      Participate in teacher-focused events (e.g., contribute a piece to a BBC competition on current affairs/news)

·      Student teachers create podcasts on an aspect of literacy to share with broader community

·      Watch videos of authors they are reading (both scholarly articles and children’s literature)

·      Student teachers post photographs of themselves on the university platform as a way to introduce themselves to their classmates

Gain an understanding of the increasingly globalized nature of literacy

·      View videos from other countries (e.g., teachers in Japan) to see similarities and differences with their own context

·      Participate in world-wide teacher communities

·      Participate in crowd-sourcing

·      Share statistics on literacy beyond home country

·      Use visual representations (e.g., photographs) to move student teachers beyond their immediate world to unpack a range of issues (e.g., gender representation in children’s literature)

Reframe issues related to literacy and literacy teaching ·      Watch videos of teaching (exemplary or poor practice) and analyze them

·      Use videos from their practice teaching classes as “data” for their inquiry projects

·      Student teachers select a picture from a photo array and relate the action in the photograph to a theory they have been working on

Bridge practice teaching and the academic program ·      Reflect on practice teaching by sharing and analyzing photographs/videos they took

·      Use email and social media to remain connected during practice teaching and as a place for student teachers to ask questions or share concerns

·      Create a video case study of pupils which relates to a theory of literacy

We also created a graphic to capture the elements of their pedagogy:

Literacy Graphci

Their courses were fundamentally different because they had truly reconceptualized their teaching, not simply tinkering by adding glitzy DT; rather, they constructed highly participatory experiences that occurred before, during, and after the official 3-hour class. Learning occurred in multiple ways: readings, f2f discussions, online communities, viewing, analyzing, and providing feedback on texts which immersed student teachers into the issues of literacy. It went far beyond introducing “methods” to teach literacy; it was framed by learning to teach literacy as a global citizen. This ambitious goal was matched with unparalleled support by the professors. Their multimodal/technology-rich teaching practices modeled the possibilities available to teachers and students; however, they were constantly trying to balance preparing student teachers to address the traditional forms of literacy, which they will probably observe in schools, with more expansive understandings. They had not discarded typical elements of literacy methods courses such as teaching the writing process or components of a balanced literacy program.

All About Me Books: Power of Writing Your Story

IMG_3099In yesterday’s blog post, Lydia talked about the All About Me book celebration we had with the student teachers in our literacy methods courses. I (Clare) want to add my comments/reflections on the activity. The “assignment” is unusual in that it is ungraded (pass/fail), there is lots of choice, and the finished product is shared with all of the other IMG_3100students. It is not just me, the professor, who reads the assignment – all of the students have an opportunity to learn from their fellow students’ work. The sharing is a wonderful way for them to learn about their fellow students and to learn about many ways to tell a story. Initially, the students are bit resistant to the assignment commenting (complaining!) about it not being graded so why should they do it or that they are not creative so they cannot do it or they cannot see how doing a book about their life will help them learn to be a literacy teacher. The process of writing their books and sharing them transforms IMG_3145their views – they come to understand the power of story, the demands of the writing process, and the importance of audience. Many commented this was the best class they have had in their university studies. One student noted: “I recognize the courage and vulnerability it takes to showcase our own work and know that without a Professor who harnesses this safe environment we wouldn’t have become such a comfortable cohort in our short weeks at OISE.”IMG_3121

All wanted to know when we were going to do “something” like this again. You will notice in these photos that the students are truly happy and engaged. Like Lydia, I was impressed with their books – their creativity was astounding, the care they took with writing their books was impressive, and their ingenuity humbled me. I learned so much from them and feel so lucky to be teaching such fine individuals.

For the literacy teachers and literacy teacher educators who follow this blog we thought we would share the assignment description with you.

IMG_3152All About Me Books

The creation of this book about you fulfills a number of purposes:

* it celebrates who you areIMG_3140

* it provides your colleagues with an opportunity to get to know you

* it celebrates the diversity of individuals in our class

* it allows your creativity to emerge and through exploration may prove new potential to you

* it provides a good resource for you to use with your students as an artifact, a way of IMG_3138introducing you to your students, a good lesson to use with them and ….

* it allows you to come to understand first-hand the complexity of the IMG_3128composing and publishing processes and it allows you to consider how various literacy formats/genres can be used with students

* it introduces you to children’s books in another way

* it is fun


  1. Meaning

The All About Me text must communicate in some way who you are – it could be descriptive, autobiographic, a metaphor, …. but it must say, “This is me!” It is important to identify your intended audience; therefore, the book must match your intended audience. If, for example, you are writing it for young children, the pictures are very important and the text must be simple and IMG_3119accessible to them. If on the other hand, you are writing it for an audience of adolescents, the tone, structure and theme would be very different. Use a structure/format appropriate for the age group you choose as models.



IMG_3114The All About Me book must be:

* illustrated in some way (use your imagination and ingenuity here).

Any format is fine – text based, artifacts, digital …..IMG_3113

* durable for use in the classroom

* well planned

* well written (adhering to the convention of grammar and spelling)

IMG_3142Possible formats and genres for your book…IMG_3135


Accompanying Story on Tape Shape Books
Fairy tale, mystery, make believe Poetry Book
Banners Pop-up Books
Shape Book Wheel Book (using paper fasteners)
Accordion Book Picture Books
ABC book Books with Bookmarks
Books with Pictures and Clipart Book in a box
Books with Photographs Puppet Books
Characters from a Movie or Novel Chart Books
Dioramas Flip Books
Graphic novel/story; Comic format Television Box
Newspaper Momento book
Series of memos Menu
Series of photographs with captions Counting book
I Book Poster
Prezi Powerpoint
Video Other ….. (e.g. rap, song)



Power of Reading

I (Clare) am getting ready to start teaching my literacy methods courses. I came across these great quotes on the power of reading. I will use them in my first class as a way to “kick start” the discussion of the importance of reading. I especially like Frank Serafini’s quote –  “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” As a child I did not learn to ready easily or at an early age. I can totally relate to Serafini’s position. Once I found books on topics I like, I have not stopped reading. If you want the link to these quotes here it is: http://bilingualmonkeys.com/43-great-quotes-on-the-power-and-importance-of-reading/

children reading1. A book is a gift you can open again and again. —Garrison Keillor
2. Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. —Kofi Annan
3. Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. —Frederick Douglass
4. Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his needs, is good for him. —Maya Angelou
5. There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book. —Frank Serafini
6. Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. —Emilie Buchwald
7. One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and to their society—is to read to children. —Carl Sagan
8. You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me. —Strickland Gillian
9. Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or Library book shelvesduty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift. —Kate DiCamillo
10. Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. —Vera Nazarian
11. Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx
12. There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. —May Ellen Chase
13. To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. —Victor Hugo
14. It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations—something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own. —Katherine Patterson
15. When you learn to read you will be born again…and you will never be quite so alone again. —Rumer Godden
16. We read to know we are not alone. —C.S. Lewis
17. So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. —William James
18. There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. —Jacqueline Kennedy
19. The greatest gift is a passion for reading. —Elizabeth Hardwick
20. There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. —Marcel Proust
9d21d-thekeepingquilt21. Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality. —L.R. Knost
22. Read, read, read. —William Faulkner
23. Read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read until words become your friends. Then when you need to find one, they will jump into your mind, waving their hands for you to pick them. And you can select whichever you like, just like a captain choosing a stickball team. —Karen Witemeyer
24. Books are a uniquely portable magic. —Stephen King
25. Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. —E.P. Whipple
26. A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say, “How to Build a Boat.” —Stephen Wright
27. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Richard Steele
28. There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back. —Jim Fiebig
29. A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic. —Carl Sagan
30. A house without books is like a room without windows. —Heinrich Mannwonder
31. A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever. —Louis L’Amour
32. Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. —Tomie dePaola
33. It is books that are the key to the wide world; if you can’t do anything else, read all that you can. —Jane Hamilton
34. I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. —Anna Quindlen
35. A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read. —Mark Twain
36. Comics are a gateway drug to literacy. —Art Spiegelman
37. He that loves reading has everything within his reach. —William Godwin
38. Let us read and let us dance—two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. —Voltaire
39. Wear the old coat and buy the new book. —Austin Phelps
40. I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp. —JK Rowling
41. Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier. —Kathleen Norris
42. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. —S.I. Hayakawa
43. I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. —Jorge Luis Borges