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Literacy Autobiography

By jrhaley
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    Emergent, Stage 0: Pre-reading

    The pre-reading stage, ages 6 months to 6 years. In this stage, children pretend to read well-known books by looking at the pages and pictures. Children are able to identify alphabet letters, and may recognize environmental print. Some children can write their own name. Children in this stage understand picture books contain stories, but few can actually read any words.
  • Children's Hour Preschool

    Children's Hour Preschool
    At age 2, I was enrolled in a full-day preschool program. We sang songs, learned nursery rhymes, and spent our days in arts and crafts. I have strong memories of an alphabet rug, and the teacher asking us to sit on certain letters. At home, I had a large book of nursery rhymes and loved to read them with my mom, along with Beatrix Potter. A record player in my room allowed me to "read along" with my favorite stories.
  • Kindergarten

    I continued at Children's Hour with Kindergarten, at age 4. My parents worked all day and required this full-day program, compared to public half-day programs at the time. My first memories with letters, writing, and books occurred here. I distinctly remember the "letter of the week" activities, which included cutting apart pieces of letters, coloring, and gluing them back together. We had show-and-tell, songs to accompany books, and acted out stories. I loved school, and reading came easy.
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    Beginning, Stage 1: Initial reading and decoding

    6-7-year-olds, 1st and 2nd graders. In this stage, children begin to understand letter-sound correspondence in relation to speech and print. Children begin to read simple texts, high-frequency words and are able to "sound out" one-syllable words.
  • First Grade

    First Grade
    In first grade, I entered public school. I continued to learn reading and writing through sight word instruction and leveled readers. We wrote our own stories and participated in an "Author's Tea." Favorite books were read aloud by the teacher: Amelia Bedilia, I'll Love You Forever, and Caps for Sale. Started my own "library" at home with trips to the Bookateria, Newark, DE.
  • Early Second Grade

    Early Second Grade
    In school, we participated in themed literature studies, such as "Japan" and "Space." I Subscribed to Highlights magazine. Read with the “highest” reading group. Began chapter book series for entertainment, such as Pee Wee Scouts. School readings were a mix of trade books and anthologies. I have no memory of having any difficulty with reading and continued to love school, but I was more of a book collector than an avid reader.
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    Fluent, Stage 2: Confirmation and fluency

    7-8-year-olds, 2nd and 3rd graders. Children in this stage develop fluency with simple and familiar stories. Instruction is comprised of decoding skills, sight vocabulary, and making meaning in the context of familiar text.
  • Late 2nd Grade

    Late 2nd Grade
    Favorite read-aloud: Miss Hickory! We learned cursive writing and continued to write stories. Wrote first research paper on Space using library books. I decided I wanted to be an astronaut after this project. I enjoyed buying and borrowing books, but rarely finished longer chapter books on my own. My attitude toward reading was positive at school, but I did not enjoy reading at home unless it was nonfiction. I began piano lessons, which involved an entirely different type of literacy.
  • Third Grade

    Third Grade
    I have very few memories of reading in this grade. My teacher was entertaining, and learning was fun. We continued to build fluency with chapter books and I participated in the "highest" reading group in school. Computer literacy was introduced with "Oregon Trail." We continued cursive handwriting and used the writing process to produce longer writing assignments. I received As and Bs in Reading, Spelling, and Writing. I still loved school but did not necessarily like to read.
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    Adolescent, Stage 3: Reading for learning the new

    9 to 13-year-olds, Phase A: Intermediate 4th - 6th grade. Phase B: Junior High School 7th - 9th grade. Children in stage 3 begin to use reading skills to learn new ideas, gain knowledge and experiences, and begin to understand a point of view. Instruction includes trade books, reference materials, textbooks, writing, research, discussion, answering questions, strengthening vocabulary, and increasingly complex texts.
  • 4th and 5th Grade

    4th and 5th Grade
    I completed elementary school in a brand new building with a big library and an active PTA that supported literacy nights. I continued in the "highest" reading group but was not selected for gifted and talented, which made me feel "not smart." I watched friends read Babysitter's Club and Little House series, but wasn't interested in reading for fun. Instead, I preferred short stories, scary stories, poems, and Reader's Digest magazines. Favorite teacher read-aloud: The Secret Garden.
  • 6th Grade

    6th Grade
    Honor's English! Other instruction included content reading in Science and Social Studies through textbooks, research projects in the school library - note cards and the Card Catalog, and literature circles with books like Homecoming. I continued to borrow chapter books from the library but rarely made it past the first two chapters. Reading felt like a chore! I began to feel that I was a slow reader compared to my classmates.
  • 7th and 8th Grades

    7th and 8th Grades
    Grammar work became more complex during this time. I continued with Honors reading classes, and received good grades. Favorite units included story writing, poetry, and nonfiction. I especially enjoyed assignments that made use of my home Macintosh computer and Creative Story Writer software. I began to enjoy writing and was supported by my mom, who edited all my papers for school and helped me develop as a writer. Reading and writing skills supported my need to gain knowledge in content areas.
  • 9th Grade

    9th Grade
    I entered high school as an Honor's student and studied a second language for the first time (Spanish). First experiences with debate in the classroom, and multiple group projects based on topics or novels. Continued to read short stories, magazines, and the occasional book for school at home. I loved my English 9 teacher, who held class "Oprah" style and held book talks. We read books over the summer to prepare for class and used a grammar workbook for homework every night (which I loathed).
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    Adolescent, Stage 4: Multiple viewpoints

    Ages 15 - 17 years old, 10th through 12th grades. Students in stage 4 are reading a broad range of nonfiction and fiction texts and exploring diverse viewpoints. Instructional studies may include physical, biological, and social sciences, popular literature, and the study of words and word parts. Reading comprehension supersedes listening comprehension.
  • 10th and 11th Grade

    10th and 11th Grade
    I took Honors English 10 and 11, AP United States History, AP Biology, Spanish II and III, etc. Focused on content area studies, reading lengthy texts and complex textbooks, writing essays, research, presentations, and occasional speeches. Increased interest in classroom discussion about controversial issues and various points of view. At home - read magazines, such as Teen and National Geographic, used the Internet for email and research, read every song lyric of every CD cover available.
  • 12th Grade

    12th Grade
    Participated in college courses at the high school, including Psychology and Sociology. Really learned how to take notes and read texts to prepare for exams. Completed AP English with the same teacher from 9th grade, who continued to foster my love for writing. Finally learned how to write an essay and embed quotations successfully. Read books including, As I Lay Dying, Death of a Salesman, and Heart of Darkness. Field trip to see Death of a Salesman at the University of Delaware theater.
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    Mature, Stage 4 into Stage 5: Construction and reconstruction

    Ages 18+ years old, College and beyond. At this stage, reading is purposeful for both professional and personal needs. Adults integrate their knowledge with others and create new meaning. Reading is both rapid and efficient and more reliable than listening. Materials may include essays, tests, writing papers, and multiple points of view.
  • The College Years

    The College Years
    Entered as a Business major and transferred to Education as a sophomore. Finally found my love of reading through books required for classes, such as The Series of Unfortunate Events and picture books for student teaching. Spent my days reading articles, textbooks, novels, and writing papers geared towards education. Developed a writing style and sense of formal grammar. Conquered the art of reading curriculum guides and writing my own lessons. Explored multiple viewpoints while reading.
  • Adult Years

    Adult Years
    My teaching career began in 4th ad 5th grade. I transitioned into 6th grade ELA, special education. Over the last 15 years, I've raised a family of 7 kids and homeschooled several. I've taught myself phonics instruction through reading books, articles, and journals, as well as writing new curriculum. I enjoy young adult novels, news articles, and of course, magazines! Literacy serves a purpose both professionally and personally. Now, my focus is on my students at home and at school.
  • Present

    Today, I don't have much time to read for entertainment. I skim and scan rapidly to avoid wasting time. Social media has multiple uses for both work and home and makes use of this rapid reading ability. I have a stack of books waiting to be read but am focused on Grad school papers and readings. I rely on headlines to get news updates. While I still enjoy writing, I never write stories or anything fictional. Journaling is the closest form of entertainment. I can finally say I love to read!
  • Influence on Teaching

    Influence on Teaching
    My experiences have definitely influenced my teaching style and understanding of students' diversity. My own resistance to reading has helped me relate to students who also dislike reading. I vividly remember how passionate some of my teachers were about books, and this drove me to pursue a career in education. I try to capture that same excitement in my own teaching, helping students connect with books in a meaningful way and helping them find books that might ignite their own love for reading.