I Don't Learn That Way: Writing & Reading
This is the last learning style that is part of the “I Don’t Learn That Way” series. Everyone in the classroom uses this learning style, although not everyone learns best this way. Therefore, instead of going over techniques for this learning style, since it is the most widely used in schools, I will go over ideas on how to make reading and writing fun for everyone.
Together is Better: Whether you are choosing picture books or chapter books, reading as an entire class will allow everyone to feel involved in the book. Reading aloud (as the teacher) to the class is especially useful for students who may struggle with reading, or ESL students. It is important in this case, and if possible, to have the students follow along with their own book. It may even be a good idea to choose a book as a class. For younger students, books with repetition allow them not only to learn new words, but as they ‘read and repeat’ those repetitive words, will feel a sense of independence and empowerment in their reading abilities.
The Book Club: this may be cliché, but I don’t often see book clubs in schools anymore. This is an extracurricular activity that engages your reading learners, and allows them to use their learning style not only in the classroom, but outside as a hobby and social gathering as well. Having monthly (or bi-monthly) books that students get to choose (get ready for Captain Underpants) will create a fun discussion and inspire them to read more!
“Miss Did You Buy ANOTHER Book?!”: Make sure your classroom is always stocked with books (More Captain Underpants! More Junie B. Jones! Junie B. Jones is still my favourite- who am I kidding?). Having them around and easily accessible will encourage your students to read more. I found that allowing time for students to get into groups and read together will not only increase your chance to integrate group work and cooperation, but you will also see an improvement in your lower-level readers. Higher-level readers may be the first ones to offer to read aloud, while lower-level readers are following along (they are absolutely still learning this way). Although some students may not have the confidence to read aloud at first, eventually, they will be the ones to take their turn!
One key point to remember is to never discourage a child from reading. They are all working at their own pace, and not giving them the opportunity to improve will only dissuade them from wanting to read. If you are working one-on-one, give them the chance to read the words. It may take them several seconds, but if you are constantly giving them the answer, they will lose their motivation. Instead, give them techniques on how to read the word- give them to space to use those strategies (letter combinations, letter sounds!).
Let The Mistakes Go: Yes, grammar, spelling and all things correctly written are important. However, we don’t want to deter students from enjoying their writing. I suggest allowing students to free write, and not always having to correct everything. Giving them fun topics and allowing their creativity to flow will encourage them to write. Of course, there are times in which we must correct the spelling mistakes and teach them about nouns, verbs and adjectives (oh my!), but still giving them that time to wander off into their own writing wonderland is equally as important.
Not Another Essay: introduce different writing styles. Use poetry, songs, short stories, even news broadcasts! Switch up the ways in which they need to write when this is possible. For those students who don’t like writing, in some of these cases (like a news broadcast or a song), they won’t realize how much writing practice they are actually getting.
Don’t Talk Bad About Authors, They’ll Write About You In Their Books: There are many opportunities to enter student’s writing in competitions, or sending them to different publishing houses (Canadian Young Writers). This could be something that you may want to integrate into your classroom to motivate your students to be creative, and get writing! This also introduces self-editing, and peer editing. In High School, my creative writing teacher sent some of our short stories to the Canadian Young Writers, and I was luckily chosen for a short story and a poem to get published! Although I already loved writing, this increased my motivation to continue (and now I currently have about 14 different half finished books in my computer).