Sunday, January 22, 2012

Myself as a Reader

Reading has had its ups and downs for me. When I was younger my mom read to me many of the Golden books which I still have today.  I remember by favorite story being "The Runaway Bunny" by Margaret Wise Brown.  I also remember my mom making up stories to tell me each night.  She would put people I knew into the stories so that I could relate to the story. Throughout elementary school I read books like Junie B Jones and the Amber Brown series. I continued to enjoy reading and  stories until the fifth grade.  In the fifth grade I had to read the book "Island of the Blue Dolphins" and after each chapter was required to answer questions about it for homework.  For some reason I just couldn't comprehend this book so I ended up doing poorly on the test and then lost my love of reading for a while.  I can't remember reading much more for pleasure, unless it was just a magazine, until I started college.

On the other hand, writing has been something that I've always liked.  When I was younger I would write in a diary. I can also remembering always writing notes to friends in school.  We had a big box of notes we wrote that I kept. I also loved getting writing assignments in school and did pretty well with them. I probably owe my imagination and love of writing to my parents.  By creating their own stories to tell me it helped spark my own imagination. I've always like expressing myself through writing and still do today.

When I started college I started reading the news, magazines, books for pleasure, cookbooks and the list could go on.  I developed a love for learning that reading helped me feed.  Books I read for fun were The Twilight Series, Memoirs of A Geisha, and several books that were made into movies. I also loved music and found myself searching for lyrics a lot. I like reading anything that I could make a connection to.  Any time I picked up a book and wasn't able to connect with it within the first few chapters I put down.

My passion for literacy grew a lot in my Junior year of undergrad at Appalachian.  I remember sitting in classes and working in groups to discuss textbook chapters.  There were a lot of people I came across that had a very hard time comprehending or with the vocabulary.  I found out that these same people didn't really enjoy reading for pleasure.  The worst part was that these people were getting their Elementary Education degree!  In my opinion, even if teachers aren't the best readers they should still have a passion for reading.  That year I created a club on campus called Appalachian Literary Society.  We had meetings that made reading and writing fun through cookbook nights, scrabble tournaments, read alouds, book discussions etc.  My goal was to show college students that reading and writing can be very enjoyable.

Currently, I read books that are about my future career, Special Education.  I don't much time to read books for pleasure now, but when I do I try to read books that teach me more about being a good educator.  As for writing, I love writing this blog.  It is a great way for me to share what is going on with my life and to be able to look back later to see what I have accomplished.  Another way I use writing is through Facebook, which I use to keep up with friends from undergrad and even to write to friends from high school.

My own experiences with reading and writing have made me very aware of the importance of good reading teachers.  Every teacher, no matter the grade level or the subject has the chance to affect the value of literacy in a child's life. When my fifth grade teacher chose not to help my reading efforts with the "Island of the Blue Dolphins," my love of reading left me.  That was the first bad grade I had made in elementary school and that left a mark that stuck with me.  I was lucky enough to later begin reading for pleasure on my own. I know people who something like this happens to and even as adults they chose not to read for fun.  I want to be a teacher who is always sharing my love of literacy with each student I come across.  Whenever I see a struggling reader I want to get down to what that student needs help with in the reading process and help them begin to enjoy reading.  By reflecting on my experiences I can see that making connections was the biggest way for me to want to read and write.  This is something that I will definitely remember as a teacher.   Developing good readers is about getting to know each student and finding out ways to help them make their own connections.  As for writing, even though I have always enjoyed it I wish I was better at it.  I really don't remember learning much about spelling or grammar use and it's something that I still am not very good with today.  Now that I'm aware of this I am working on it and want to make sure to blend all parts of literacy into my classroom.  Literacy isn't just about learning to read, it's about learning the process of reading and the development of good writing skills.  I look forward to helping all of my students become more literate and fostering their passion for reading and writing.

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