Monday, December 29, 2008

Encoding and Decoding

An article in the September, 2008, issue of Educational Leadership (a publication of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) looks at how phonics are taught and should be taught. In her article, “Why Phonics Teaching Must Change,” author Jeannine Herron refers to recent reading and brain research for clues on how children can learn to read efficiently. The focus of the article is the difference between decoding (going from printed letter to sound in reading words) and encoding (going from sound to letter in constructing words.) She concludes that phonics instruction should “focus on students constructing words before trying to read them.” In programs where children are encouraged to construct the spelling of words so that they may write, this is already happening. That is one of the pluses of using a writing workshop model in working with young children. See my earlier post, “Hiss Joins the Party” for one description of how that can be encouraged.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Developing as Readers through Writing Workshop

In addition to honing their writing skills through Writing Workshop, students also develop their skills as readers. When we read books from children's literature, we practice noticing the language and other elements that authors use in their writing. We discuss how those choices affect us as readers. I have seen this kind of focus carry over to the students' independent reading. The other day a student brought me a book he was reading. He was in my language group last year and is in Natasha's this year. He was excited about a phrase in the book in which the author describes someone's face as lit up "like a Christmas tree." He said, "Listen to this!" As he shared this simile with me, his face was also lit up like a Christmas tree. It was one of those moments that teachers treasure.