Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Literacy Playshop: Playing and Storying with Media

To address the realities of early childhoods, we need to think beyond even our best practice in literacy teaching--our  familiar reading and writing workshops--and envision a play-enriched and technology-inspired literacy curricula that makes sense for today’s video-saturated world. In other words, we need expand reading and writing workshops into vibrant and creative classroom studios that I'm calling “literacy “playshops” with media-rich literacy curricula where children produce storyboards, live action plays, and digital films. I documented how literacy playshops bridge literacy, children’s peer culture, and popular media when I spent a year and a half in one kindergarten conducting research for my book, Playing Their Way into Literacies.

Now in a forthcoming book with four graduate students, we have documented how six preschool and K-1 teachers studied, planned, and taught in Literacy Playshop. The teachers supported children’s video explorations and collaborative film projects as we researched in their classrooms to understand how children  produce new kinds of literacies as they make texts together during play and media production. The shift was dramatic. In play spaces where film can now capture the otherwise temporary play scenarios, children created stories on their terms using the materials and narratives that they know best.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to School: Support Your Global Kindergarten Teacher

With the steady drumbeat of testing, testing, testing in accountability and reformist discourse, it's crucial to recognize the teachers who rise above it all and focus their attention on creating amazingly responsive learning environments for our youngest learners. It's equally important for these committed professionals to find communities that affirm and reinvigorate their teaching practice.

Some lucky teachers are able to form practitioner inquiry groups to share ideas and coach each other in their local schools or districts. For the rest of us, global connections in social media provide places for early childhood educators to gather and support one another on Facebook groups or Twitter chats. Education chats include a range of options tailored to specific teaching interests and issues: #kinderchat, #ecetechchat, #ellchat, and many more. These groups meet virtually for an hour each week and followers can read or tweet along by typing the hashtag chat name into the Twitter search bar. For example, #kinderchat meets on Monday nights at 9 Eastern time.

The following tweets by two of the kinderchat moderators exemplify the kind of child-friendly, positive teaching that this early childhood professional community promotes:

RT@Matt_Gomez @happycampergirl we discussed our one class rule today - Be Brave! They were so proud to have that rule #kinderchat

RT@happycampergirl Told my partner teacher today: I refuse to rush them for 1st 4 wks. Lots of time, no hurry. #kinderchat

So find a community and join in-- follow, tweet, and support these wonderful early childhood educators!