Thursday, August 28, 2014

Authentic Literacy


Dear Readers,
 Tonight’s blog topic is authentic literacy.Authentic Writing is writing for real purposes and real audiences. Authentic writing is 
writing that is most like that which occurs in everyday life.  I have shared an authentic literacy project.  I hope you find this useful.

Authentic Literacy Project:
            We are teaching in an era where technology has literally taken over the written word. Students’ text, e-mail, tweet, message and the list go on. Days of looking up words in a dictionary are becoming fewer and fewer. Today’s students rely on the computer or an electronic speller to define words.  Even reading books and newspaper are often read on e-readers or on the internet. However, in light of this, literacy particularly writing is still a main focus in school. Students still need to know how to express themselves in writing. Students still learn to write complete, grammatically correct sentences with proper spelling. They still need to know how to take notes, write essays, and summaries. As teachers it’s very important that we take the time to teach authentic reading and writing. Authentic reading and writing activities such as writing letters and reading newspapers are skills that our students still need to know to be successful in the “real” world.
            In thinking about how to integrate authentic literacy activities into my classroom, I thought a lot about the lives of my students. I wanted to do something with authentic reading and writing that would enhance their lives. Many of my student’s families are struggling financially. Many come from broken homes. Many have lost compassion for others. It’s their lack of empathy that is critical. I thought more about authentic literacy. An integral part of authentic literacy is writing for an audience. Think about it, outside of the classroom, people almost always write when there is someone to read their writing. So, I decided to give my students an authentic literacy project that will give them both an audience and perhaps a new appreciation for others as well. Perhaps in these times where families are falling apart and kids are losing compassion doing an authentic literacy project that brings people together may just be the key to enhancing not only my students’ lives but the lives of those in our small, rural community as well.

Project Goals:
            Primary Goal:  The students as a group will write a newspaper article in search of senior citizens who would like to participate in our educational writing program. The students will write friendly letters to area senior citizens who volunteer to participate.  The main focus of the letters will be gathering the history of the elder’s life. Students will be provided with a data collection sheet to gather significant data on.

            Secondary Goal: Each student will be responsible for gathering information on their senior partner. One component will be to find out the favorite recipe of the senior. The students must also find out how life was different for their elderly buddy when they were children.

Final Project:  Each student must give an oral report featuring the life and times of their elderly buddy. In their report they must include how their life is different than the person they wrote letters to. Each student should also have a poster depicting their elder buddy’s life., including a timeline. 

Teen Book Review:
   I have used the novel Flygirl in my 7th grade literacy class. It is just a great novel on so 
many levels. First, although the novel is fiction, it is historically correct. Second, It is a novel that appeals to both boys and girls because the topic is World War II, but it is about a little known group called the WASPs (Womens Airforce Service Pilots) third, it explains what life was like in the 1940's for black Americans in the South.  As stated, Flygirl, is set in the 1940'3 in Louisiana. It is about a young black girl who wants to follow in her dead father's footsteps and be a pilot. She also wants to help in the war effort to save her older brother who is stationed overseas. The only problem is that the WASPs are for white girls only, so Ida Mae Jones, tries to pass herself off as white.  Ida Mae quickly learns that having a different name and uniform can't hide the person that she is on the inside. I highly recommend this novel for teen readers.


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