Creating Instructional Materials for All Pupils. Connecting Children’s Stories to Children’s Literature: Meeting Diversity Needs, Assessment Example
The first article being examined in this assignment is entitled, Creating Instructional Materials for all Students: Try COLA (Rotter, 2006). In her article, Rotter discusses using reading materials that can be easily followed by all classroom students—those in general education as well as those mainstreamed students who may need special kinds of instructional help and guidance not required by all of their classmates.
Rotter’s article (2006) describes pedagogical learning (not purely reading, but all subjects which entail word expression). She suggests the use of the acronym, COLA. This stands for contrast, orientation, lettering, and artwork. It is those qualities which help students to maintain an attention span used for learning. Rotter strongly discusses the use of white space in designing reading artwork and layout because the use of white space reduces clutter, helping students to differentiate between what is important to their reading—and what is not. Although Rotter strongly emphasizes the use of white space she does not explain that white space does not have to be white. White space is dead space: the space around objects that causes important facts to stand out, or stand away, from the rest of the data. To accomplish this, white space can be any primary or secondary color.
Orientation refers to the placement of text. Children in the USA are taught to read English from left to right, starting at the top left of a page, eventually getting to the bottom right of the page. Rotter (2002) observed that following this kind of orientation enabled children to more quickly recognize words, improving their reading ability. Beginning teachers sometimes place words or text haphazardly on the page. Their unfamiliarity with kind of placement makes reading and word recognition more difficult. Again, the best orientation is reading from the left to the right in sequential lines, thus starting each page at the top left and completing that page at the bottom right.
In an earlier article, Rotter (2002) discussed lettering. She observed that it was difficult for some students to read cursive handwriting, and she encouraged teachers to print those materials that would be shared with students. Indeed, as computers have become more of age and as they are being more and more relied upon by book publishers, administrators, classroom teachers, and other professionals, cursive writing is becoming a dying art. Some states including Illinois (Illinois Instructional Standards, 2012), New York (New York Department of Education, 2012), and California (California State Board of Education, 2012) have dropped cursive writing from their instructional standards. Harris (2011) believes that other states will soon follow suit and that cursive writing will become a lost art. Although keyboarding is quickly replacing cursive writing, Alabama (State Board of Education, 2012) has decided to keep cursive writing because it helps to help accomplish a specific skill not found in keyboarding: sensory motor skills, indeed a needed and versatile pedagogical technique (Kosner, 2006). Rotter (2002) concurred that for special needs children, cursive instruction is probably too difficult to follow.
Adults tend to familiarize themselves with a Roman type-faced font. These include Ariel, Courier, or Times New Roman fonts. The differences in fonts contain qualities that, for what whatever the reason, we prefer to choose them. For instance, Ariel fonts are square in appearance. Courier fonts are typewriter-based. Every letter in the typeface gets the same amount of space. Times New Roman are proportional fonts where wide letters are assigned more space than narrow letters.
Brady (1993) suggested that classroom teachers use fonts that closely resemble the way primary children write. Comic Sans is one such font. Fonts that resemble how their classmates write is the least threatening to primary students, especially those with special needs.
Regardless of the students’ age, cursive writing seems to be disappearing from classroom learning. Therefore, the greatest understanding and least threat for students of all ages will come from using fonts that represent printed, not cursive materials (Kosner, 2006). Brady (1993) observed that some students also have difficulties with the mixing of fonts—different fonts, font boldness, and contrast. Brady advises that children will have the least difficulty reading fonts that are of equal proportion.
Brady acknowledges that reading distance may call for changes in the size of fonts. For instance, Brady speaks about children who read from a projection screen where the classroom teacher engages some sort of overhead projector. However, Landsmann (2008) acknowledges that the National Reading Association believes that “eyes on the text” is a more beneficial method of reading. According to the Association, students who practice group reading are actually reading only an average of six minutes each day. For children with special needs that number is reduced to two minutes per school day. It seems to the writer of this report that students who engage in reading from an overhead projector are probably practicing some kind of group reading exercise more so than their peers who are actually looking at written materials placed directly on their desks. Brady’s observations (1993) about keeping the same font are valid only so long as the delivery system is changed to independent reading instead of group instruction.
The use of artwork is debatable. If artwork is obscure students may not be able to recognize its importance in the completion of their studies. If the artwork “gives too much away” then the identification is easy enough that it reduces the students’ impetus to read. Just the same, researchers recognize that a person’s ability to do artwork, regardless of the reason it is being produced, varies from one individual to another. Although artwork can be important to learning, some instructors just don’t harbor the innate ability to produce recognizable art forms.
The first four standards, those entitled Teacher Education Master’s Candidate Standards are best used by school administrators when performing reviews of how classroom instructors are conveying lessons to students. The last four standards, entitled Standards for Reading Teacher Candidates can be best used by classroom teachers to evaluate their own performance and to help them determine whether their students understand their assignments or whether further help is needed.
The single-most standard applicable to this assignment is Number 2 of the second set: Reading teacher candidates use a wide range of reading assessment tools and results in order to provide developmentally appropriate instruction. If this standard were issued by a state board of education, regardless of state, it would still read similarly, only removing the word candidates.
This article segregates children’s storytelling into three unique categories: the Known, the Remembered, and the Imagined. The first category, the Known, deals with those issues which take place inside a child’s family. They are usually diverse in nature, often examining special holidays and celebrations which take place either as household practices or based on religion or ethnicity. The second category, the Remembered, is generally recall items. These may be based similarly on items that are known, or they may be based on occurrences which took place elsewhere, such as at the home of a relative. They may not actively be practiced in the child’s home, but they are practiced in a location the child is intimately familiar with such as the home of a grandparent or other close relative. Imagined occurrences may have no factual basis or they may be taken from excerpts of fact and combined with the child’s imagination to create an entirely new belief based on how things should be instead of how things are.
St. Armour (2003) suggests the teacher needs to read to the class and from this reading the children need to sort out either what the story’s characters know about the story or how the students themselves can relate to the stories, sorting those events into the Known, the Remembered, and the Imagined. St. Armour is quick to suggest that stories based upon ethnic qualities are the best for reading in the elementary classroom. Stories that are based on ethnic differences help children to recognize they may be different from their classmates, but each of their peers may be uniquely different. It helps students to affirm that although various groups may be different there is no single group that is better than any other group. Sleeter and Grant (2002) discuss four specific ways that lead to helping children promote multicultural concepts. These include the practice of democracy, the analysis of the circumstances encompassing each person’s life, the development of social action skills, and the formation of coalitions.
To further learning in the elementary classroom, St. Armour (2003) discusses analyzing the circumstances of individual lives. He does this by telling teachers to foster reading habits among students. The books he suggests are mostly about the diversity of holidays in different countries. Learning takes place when students compare and contrast Jewish holidays with St. Valentine, or with the Lady of Guadalupe. The next step is social skills development. Csak (2002) suggests that oral language is the venue by which to pair literacy and social responsibility. In the latter part of the 20th century household gender roles began to break down. Men and women, now both breadwinners, support each other inside their homes as well as outside of the family home. These tasks usually fall into the category of social responsibility. When literacy is attached to social skills children learn both. Finally, learning as a whole is attached to children forming coalitions. Some children have stronger strengths than others. When children voluntarily pair themselves both members of the pair improve. Children who sometimes feign away from their teacher’s instruction are quick to learn from their peers. Likewise, when children get the opportunity to model lessons to their classmates, sustaining growth is improved. Forming learning coalitions is a win-win situation for all students. St. Armour (2003) concludes his article by suggesting that learning is most meaningful when learning takes place in the child’s home language and when ideas and concepts are used in learning that are most familiar to the student.
As in Part I of this essay, the applicable standards come from the second set: Standards for Reading Teacher Candidates. The first standard is the most applicable: Reading teacher candidates have knowledge of the foundations of reading. As with the first part, if the word candidate were omitted, this standard could easily be the standard being set by a state board of education.
Brady, P. (1993). Using type right. Cited in Rotter, K. Creating instructional materials for all pupils: Try COLA. Intervention in School and Clinic 41(5): 273-282.
Csak, N. (2002). What’s important when you’re six? Cited in St. Armour. M. Connecting children’s stories to children’s literature: meeting diversity needs. Early Childhood Education 31(1): 47-53.
Harris, M. (2011, Nov. 8). Cursive writing to be a thing of the past. Big Rapids, MI: Ferris State University.
Kosner, J. (2006). Universal design of early education. Keynote speech delivered in Atlanta, GA. National Association for the Education of Young Children, Fall 2006.
Landsmann, L. (2008). The inside scoop on school. New York: United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
Sleeter, C. & Grant, C. (2002). Making choices for multicultural education: Five approaches to race, class, and gender. Cited in St. Armour, M. Connecting children’s stories to children’s literature: Meeting diversity needs. Early Childhood Education Journal 31(1): Fall 2003.
St. Armour, M. (2003, Fall). Connecting children’s stories to children’s literature: Meeting diversity needs. Early Childhood Education Journal 31(1): 47-53.
Rotter, K. (2002). Simple techniques to enhance access to teacher made instructional materials by pupils with disabilities. Cited in Rotter, K. (2006). Creating Instructional Materials for All Pupils: Try COLA. Intervention in School and Clinic 41(5): 273-282.
Rotter, K. (2006). Creating instructional materials for all pupils: Try COLA. Inntervention in School and Clinic 41(5): 273-282.
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