You are a passionate educator who believes that every child is a unique, bright, and capable learner, that excellence in literacy education is a basic right and the key to a child’s school success, and that instruction should be based on current research and developmentally appropriate practices.
I'm teacher & obsessive researcher who is super nerdy about connecting research to practice (super nerdy, don't say I didn't warn you). During my Masters program I focused on the miriad of ways that children explore and communicate their learning. My favourite thing (and coincidentally super effective, according to research) is connecting literacy and play in ways that create space in the classroom for children's own ways of knowing.
Here's the thing...global and technological influences have changed the communicational landscape, resulting in an expanded definition of what it means to communicate. Traditional ideas of literacy, which tended to be “formalized, monolingual, monocultural, and rule-governed forms of language” (New London Group [NLG], 1996, p. 61), are no longer relevant. Most children are surrounded by multiple modes of representation: in the technology they use which incorporates sound, speech and animation (Cope & Kalantis, 2000; Jewitt, 2008; Luke, 2007; Kress, 2003); in the socially and culturally embedded uses of modes such as gesture, gaze, body posture, and speech (Egbo, 2009, Heath, 1983; Kress, 2010; Lustig & Koester, 2003; Smith-Maddox, 1998); and in the literature they read which integrates visual and written modes to communicate messages (Doonan, 1993; Kress, 2003; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006; McCloud, 1993; Pantaleo, 2008; Sipe, 1998). For most of the children in our classrooms, their daily experiences of exploring and representing meaning are increasingly those of negotiating multiple communicational modes. Indeed, many teachers are searching for ways to augment traditional models of teaching, which relied heavily on the oral and written modes of communication; “as teachers seek to reflect the diversity in their classrooms in what they teach and in the questions they explore, they must also embrace children's multifaceted ways of knowing and representing knowledge” (Kendrick & McKay, 2002, p. 45). They must employ differentiated techniques that enable learners to explore and represent learning in multiple ways.
Even after I spent years researching (told you I was nerdy) pedagogical approaches that were responsive to children's own ways of knowing, and discovered how powerful children's own self-directed pretend play was for their literacy learning (nope, not just for preschool, I'm talking primary grades too), I was still shocked at how effective it really is. Yes, shocked. When I went into a grade two classroom to try out one of the approaches, I couldn't believe how each child had the opportunity to shine in their own way and how the children naturally scaffolded each other's learning by supporting each other's unique strengths and areas of need.
Through my online workshops I share with teachers pedagogical methods which are responsive to culture, to diverse abilities, and to the increased use of technology, recognizing the myriad of ways these influences can affect children’s learning needs. Such pedagogical methods are strengths-based and deepen students’ learning.
Workshops for Parents
I am frequently asked by teachers to provide workshops for the parents that they work with which explains how children learn (formal vs play), what learning through play looks like, how children learn to read and write developmentally, and the research behind practices that support learning through play and developmentally appropriate teaching practices that support young readers and writers.
When parents have access to current research and an explanation of best practices for early literacy learning, not only do they become strong advocates of your amazing classroom practices, but they begin to adopt home literacy practices that are best suited to their child’s learning needs making your job significantly easier!
If you have parents that may be interested in my workshops, you can direct them to the parents section of my website. I can also direct you to a handful of free excellent parent friendly resources here.