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fish out of water


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Posted Sat Jan 10th, 2009 10:53pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
Just listened to Stephen's most recent podgram on language which I enjoyed immensely . As a child of the 'grammer less' sixties, who subsequently morphed from a scientist into a primary teacher (via spells as road sweeper/fishmonger etc etc) I was heartened to hear him lambast the grammer and punctuation pedants! Although my knowledge of grammatical rules has refused to progress much beyond the very rudimentary (eg verb = doing word) I have this little theory that the less enjoyment (plaisir?) one gets from language in whatever form, spoken, wrtitten, sung, screamed or crooned, the more one is likely to 'enjoy' squashing other peoples enjoyment by enforcing a load of arcane and twaddly rules on them. Now to get to my point, the so called 'literacy hour' that primary school children have had to endure for what seems like forever, tries to teach children to jump through language hoops before, and at the expense, of becoming immersed in a rich and pleasurable language in all its forms. Read with and to children, sing with them, talk and laugh with them, but forget the 'rules', who needs them! Bring on the plaisir principle!

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PamJH


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Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 12:40am Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
Could you possibly explain more about this literacy hour? What exactly do the children have to do?

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fish out of water


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 8:24am Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
'The literacy hour is designed to provide a practical structure of time and class management which reflects the structure of teaching objectives in the NLS Framework. While the Framework provides details of what should be taught, the literacy hour is the means of teaching it. The Literacy Hour should be implemented throughout the school to provide a daily period of dedicated literacy teaching time for all pupils.' http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/primary/publicati.....723/919507
Which all sounds fine really, but in practice (perhaps bad practice) has led to an over prescriptive and reductionist approach to language teaching in primary schools in which small sections are text are studied at the expense of developing any real pleasure/love for language and story.

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PamJH


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 11:50am Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
This sounds like the classrooms at my kids' former school. The elementary (kindergarten through about third grade), would get a new story every week and read that story over and over until they could read it themselves. I think this is called whole-language learning. This would be interspersed with phonics. After a while, the class would be broken into groups according to their ability. Some would move on to more difficult reading books, but they still followed the story-per-week routine.

At first I thought this was a good idea because it seemed to build mastery. But then as I watched the kids (I was an aide), I could see boredom seeping in by Wednesday. Some of the kids would ask for a new story, but that's not how the program was arranged. If they progressed beyond one story per week, then they ran out of stories before the end of the year.

The books were beautiful, with vibrant pictures by imaginative illustrators. The stories made sense, considering their constraints, but they were dull. I often wondered why we couldn't read Wind in the Willows, old fairy tales, things like that, just to add variety. But the hour-and-a-half was geared for that. Quite sad, really.

Thanks for your explanation, too.
Pam

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Occy


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 1:33pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
Haven't listened to the podcast yet but personally I think spelling and grammar are intrinsic to learning how to use the language more appropriately. I am not a grammar nazi but honestly, use a comma in the right place - not so you work makes the reader sound asthmatic, know where a capital letter is meant to go, be able to adequately spell so that your CV doesn't look like it was written by half blind monkeys. Language is a great tool and it can build or destroy. Grammar has its place.

It's like getting dressed. Great that you can do it, but it's important to know which side the pants button up on as it adds to the whole experience.

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PamJH


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 1:46pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
Haven't listened to the podcast yet but personally I think spelling and grammar are intrinsic to learning how to use the language more appropriately. I am not a grammar nazi but honestly, use a comma in the right place - not so you work makes the reader sound asthmatic, know where a capital letter is meant to go, be able to adequately spell so that your CV doesn't look like it was written by half blind monkeys. Language is a great tool and it can build or destroy. Grammar has its place.

It's like getting dressed. Great that you can do it, but it's important to know which side the pants button up on as it adds to the whole experience.

I couldn't agree more. The more you know about grammar and punctuation, the better your writing, I've always been told. You can't break the rules unless you know what they are - that's a quote from my high school creative writing teacher. And she really knew her stuff.

Pam

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Nitro


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 3:07pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
This might sound like self-congratulatory b.s., but it's not I swear.

My mother took it upon herself to teach me to read long before I even entered kindergarten, so that by the age of three I could read a book, for instance, such as "Black Beauty".

She did not point out verbs, constructions, exclamation points, commas, sentence diagramming, nouns, or pronouns X-D She left 'language physiology' ( ) to the teachers of the written word to help me grasp.

It never really stuck for long, ( I still probably couldn't diagram a highly complex sentence ), but it was even tougher on my peers who not only had no interest in writing the language and understanding the rules of engagement in that regard, they also had very little interest in reading.

Strongerreaders are time and time again proven to be stronger writers, and more interested in both. Maybe the problem in education is trying to get kids into disection just a little too soon. I'm an adult now, or so some say, and I still find the topic boring X-D I believe we should interest kids in stories and being able to ingest those stories all by themselves and explain the rules after they've attached some enjoyment to the activity.

But what the hell do I know?
Nothin'.... X-D

Really? Wow.

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Jarus


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 4:00pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
I agree with you completely Nitro children should have a love of reading instilled in them long before they become engaged with the more technical side of language. My mum often reminds of the time (I think around aged 4) that I grabbed the book out of her hands, and started reading it myself as she was 'reading too slowly' - manners were apparently an alien concept to me

As I got to school I found it completely unengaging and quickly sped through the levels until I was allowed to simply go to the school library and pick out my own books.

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PamJH


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 6:49pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
This might sound like self-congratulatory b.s., but it's not I swear.

My mother took it upon herself to teach me to read long before I even entered kindergarten, so that by the age of three I could read a book, for instance, such as "Black Beauty".



There was a wonderful 1st grade teacher at my kids' former school who knew just what to do with kids such as yourself. First, she had all the kids do the same thing (read from the simple reading books in groups, do phonics pages, etc.). Then she quickly observed who got bored with this first. For the kids who came to school already reading or on the verge of reading (would pick it up in a matter of days, not months), and would then allow those children to ceremoniously recycle their phonics books. They were allnowed to put their regular reading books in symbolic storage, then were give what she called chapter books to read as a group every day, then a free pass to go the library whenever they wanted. They were given spelling tests on words they chose from the dictionary.

And you know what? This approach rubbed off on the other students. They wanted to recycle phonics books, have a free pass to the library and choose their own spelling words. They buddied up so they could accomplish this as a class, too. It was beyond anything I've ever seen and I've worked with a lot of teachers. Of course, she also ignored all the new directives that came her way, which was the secret to her success.

No child left that classroom without learning to love reading.

You probably would have been a teacher's pet!

And the other posters are right. Kids have to be read to, as well. The most successful students come from homes where the written word is celebrated. They learn to read on their parents' laps and from their older siblings. Then the phonics and punctuation come easily. The kids who really need phonics and dissection once they get to school are the ones who don't have this at-home advantage.

I know this is a long post, but I'm passionate about getting kids to read, and more than that, to love doing it. Some methods work with some kids, but not with others. I say adjust and use whatever works. That's why I homeschool my kids. They can get what they need as they need it. They're teens now, but that still holds true.

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Occy


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 10:06pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
I'm a strong reader and writer. The two do NOT necessarily go together. How do I know? I am an English teacher. I have excellent readers in the class who can't structure a sentence because no one taught them how. I am ALSO a University graduate with a Major in Literature. I am not suggesting you know every grammar rule out there - but basic sentence structure is so undervalued that we in today's society accept garbage like The DaVinci Code as, dare I say it, a classic. A book Stephen himself referred to as "The worst sort of arse dribble" (or something thereabouts).

You don't need to learn every single grammar rule - mostly because they are eventually contradictory, but rather you need to know enough to structure your sentences. It is like the argument between immersion and individual classes. I had no choice but to "immersed", however I was also taught structure.

Grammar is part of the scaffold of learning a language - why should we not be as dedicated to English as we might be to another second language? I hate to see the decline of the English language. It is a beautiful, purposeful language when used properly. Properly doesn't mean using the biggest word available, in fact the best sentences are simple and direct. They reach the widest audience and if they are structured and purposeful, have the greatest meaning. I get annoyed when people use big words for the hell of it, without it adding any more meaning than "look at me, I can use a big word". Big deal, so can I ;). if you are going to use these words, don't bung them down on a page, use them in your every day lives. Some of my kids use words and I ask "so what does this mean?". "I dunno miss, it sounded good and it was in the thesaurus". Nothing irritates me more. Well I am sure there are things...

One thing about Stephen. He does use big words, hopefully he does so in his every day life, not just for his loving audience. However, when it comes to insults he brings it down to the lowest common denomoinator. Not a judgement, just something I find curious and amusing. Perhaps that is indeed for his wider audience. I mean who doesn't like seeing Alan called a 'pig eyed sack of shit' hehe.

I haven't listened to the whole podcast yet but so far all I can gather is that Stephen is being characteristically apologetic about his "class" in a country where I believe these lines are still quite defined. He seems almost sad that he isn't a cockney lol. But I have only listened to the first 10 minutes. I am in Melbourne and devoting little time to my computer. It just happens to be early in the morning and no one else is up yet.

It's grey and rainy here - sheer bliss

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Occy


Member

Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 10:08pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
I hasten to add that teaching practice today encourages us to cater for a wide variety in our classrooms. Many of the tasks I create are open ended, so students can do the minimum but there is no maximum. However, this creates another problem which is the 'lazy generation' who think they can do the bare minimum because it will get them a pass. GRR

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michael


Member

Posted Mon Jan 12th, 2009 4:37pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
This might sound like self-congratulatory b.s., but it's not I swear.



nah, i get what you're saying. my mom did the same thing.

i read okay but had problems talking. had a speech impediment and refused to speak. so much that my parents were worried i had a neurological disorder. i don't like people stressing rules, and i mention this in a comment on the podgram page, but rereading it i know it's a confusing post.

I believe we should interest kids in stories and being able to ingest those stories all by themselves and explain the rules after they've attached some enjoyment to the activity.



the organization i fundraise for has a program where they teach lessons in math, science, and art all based on a storybook. the kids who like art but might not read well, or the students who read well but don't like math, get drawn into these areas. it makes reading a way to keep learning and keep being curious for the rest of your life.

PamJH :


your story is amazing! we had reading groups when i was in elementary school. but i was always the only one in my group. i didn't have many friends and didn't socialize well. it was a chance to be included with other kids that was lost. i'd much rather have been with other kids

instead i often intentionally screwed up on my school work or caused trouble in hopes of fitting in.

see i made a long post too :-//

"HELLO I'M TACTILE !" is an anagram of my name

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PamJH


Member

Posted Mon Jan 12th, 2009 10:02pm Post subject: The (bloody) Literacy Hour...
Michael,

I knew bright kids who would do the same thing, intentionally screw up their work in order to be a member of a group. I always wished I could do something about that, but the need to socialize is sometimes greater than the need to excel. That holds true for kids and adults.

Well, we're all excellent here so we should have a good time socializing.

Pam

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