How I Learned To Become Literate . . .
As a six-month-old baby books had opened up a whole entire new world of experience for me. My inspiration to learn how to read and write was encouraged by my Mother and Grandmother. This is because they read out loud to me before bed occasionally and gave me the best time of my life by introducing me to a library. By two years of age I developed speech and other communication skills. This helped me understand and develop a favorite book, PJ Funny Bunny, and I would stare at the pages pretending I was reading them. I would continually pretend to read with other Dr. Seuss books, Smurf pop-up books (I imagined I was a part of these for hours), sniff & scratches, and sensory books. I had just begun encouragement to learn literacy.
I always had a fascination when I would watch my Mother or Grandmother write (with their neat handwriting) or read something. I too, as a toddler, wanted to write just as well as they did. Therefore, I began writing on my games, play tables, and toy boxes (this was a big No, No). My Mother would in addition write out bills and use a calculator. Of course, I had to imitate her. But, any of this just wasnt enough for me. I desired something more . . .
I can remember I was extremely excited to begin school. It wasnt fair to me that all the bigger kids that lived nearby got to go to school and I didnt. Jealousy grew as I watched them out the front window of our house when they would return home with their happy school faces. This showed me school was fun and I was missing out on the greatest thing. It just wasnt fair! I wanted to learn too!
When I began Kindergarten I was prepared by knowing how to spell my name, recite and write the letters of the alphabet, and spell a few small words like, CAT and DOG. Our teacher, Mrs. Lowler, encouraged us to continue learning literacy by: sounding out letter or words, giving us more words to practice spelling, reading aloud to us every day, allowing us to take turns on the typewriter, recite poems and songs, take turns reading to each other, and finally writing a few small sentences. We also had a heartening contest that whoever read the most books would get a free pizza at Pizza Hut.
There are two things I remember Mrs. Lowler did to encourage my literacy skills. One time she made us paint a picture and then we had to present them in front of the entire class. In our presentations we were told to make up a short story about our pictures. Overtime this helped to enhance my imagination for reading. Another thing our teacher did was present us with books as Christmas gifts. I remember my book was called A Mouse House. Inside she wrote that I was an excellent reader and said if we all came back over the holidays being able to read our books we could read anything we wanted. I believed her and practiced my book throughout winter break. She had given me hope for learning.
During my Kindergarten years most of my encouragement continued by making up my own short stories with illustrations. Stories I wrote, like the Oddor Beast (1) and The Witch And Too Two Many (2), helped increase my imagination and made me feel as though I was a really great author. When my report card (3) came around and a VG for Very Good was in the Reading box I would get excited to read more.
Throughout the beginning of my Elementary school years we were taught literacy by writing creative stories with illustrations. In my story, The Girl Who Had The Magic Finger (4) you can see that I was not great at spelling and completing sentences. I also noticed my tendency to complete things in a big hurry and end sentences with phrases like, And thats the end of that. I continued to learn by putting together little books like, Little People Book (5).These type of books aloud me to read the stories and comprehend what Ive read because they were followed by short questions at the end.
By First Grade, I was able to created my own Christmas List(6) without any instruction or help from anyone. My handwriting has shown improvement without the use of school standard lined-paper. I have shown that I am capable of using the proper letter format and my spelling is once again improving. This is to the continual instruction of grammar, spelling, and handwriting during school.
In Second Grade our class was split into different reading groups. I feel this idea is wrong because those that arent in a higher reading group pay more attention to that particular group than what is going on in their own group. This was a problem for me. My report card shows my reading grade dropped to a G for Good. I began to loose interest and my literacy took a turn for the worst.
By Second Grade we were given an assignment to use the words on a worksheet and write about Columbus Day (8). I barely wrote any of the words that were supposed to be used and made up some of the story of Columbus voyage. My teacher began to notice my abilities were slacking. Therefore, she stuck me into the highest reading group and I began to perform much better. In my writing of If I Wrote The Constitution (9) both my handwriting and spelling improved again. Soon I began writing longer paragraphs like, The Missing Cents (10). Here my imagination is running away with me in a story over a lost quarter. Yet, in the end of my story I am once again rushing for completion and it doesnt sound reasonable.
In the Third Grade we were taught how to write in cursive. I was so excited to show my family how well I could write in a Mothers Day Card (11). We also learned how to spell words by having a Weekly Spelling Words Sheet (12) followed by a test at the end of the week. In these assignments we had to write each word three to five times each, use the word in a complete sentence, and write a definition of the word. We also began incorporating computers into our education. In one assignment the Dandy Song (13) I learned to use all my literacy skills and learn how to use the computer. This assignment also taught me how to be versatile in creating my own words to the tune of an existing song similar to Yankee Doodle.
One of the things I remember most about third grade is creating my own personal library. I would gather all the books in the bookshelves and placed them alphabetically around the playroom. I even had a check out station with a typewriter to put the Due-Back Dates inside the books. I had furthermore taken the time to create my own book called What Ifs (14). In my library setting I was using all the skills I was taught in school; including my library skills.
My Fifth Grade English teacher is the reason why I want to become a teacher with an English degree. She made literacy so much fun. In her class we were assigned a book report every month. For the book report, like Round Trip Space Ship, (15) we had to make a cover and inside follow her writing format instructions. The best part of our project was to present our book reports in class by dressing up as one of the main characters in the story. In this particular book report I had fun dressing up as a cute little alien. This idea gave me a real feel for what it was like to truly be that character. Mrs. Paris also had us keep journals in class. Here she would give us a topic and we took about fifteen minutes to write our thoughts out. The fact that she took the time to write back to us made me excited and eager to write in my journal. This helped give me the idea to maintain a pen pal relationship with one of my friends from church.
Throughout my years of learning literacy I have combined my knowledge into different experiences. I have written papers, articles for newspapers (16), read to younger to children, and much more. My own philosophy as a teacher is to be a Reading Mentor to my students. I want to show my students that literacy is fun to learn and expands your imagination. Without books we would not be able to have the ideas and thoughts we do today. There would be no creativity; as a result places like Disney World would not exist. I have learned so much from each of these teachers. The important lesson that I will pass on is to make learning an enjoyable and pleasant learning experience. Like Mrs. Paris, my Fifth Grade teacher, I want to show my students I love and enjoy what I am teaching them.