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Kelsey Valdez

EDUC 340
Case Study/Reflective Paper
11/20/14
Part 1
Literacy is often defined as reading ability, the custom education book for EDUC 340
states that, Literacy is an evolving concept that changes with society over time. Perhaps its best
to think of literacy in terms of the multiple literacies that we use to make and communicate
meaning. (Vacca et al.) When using the definition from the book, it is apparent that all teachers
are teachers of reading. This quote also shows the importance of all teachers being teachers of
literacy because literacy is not only about being able to engage with a text, but being able to
apply the text to the world and use it to interact with students peers. Teachers have a duty to
teach their students how to interact with the world. This lab has used multiple literacy strategies
to show that in all content areas students must be able to connect with the world around them to
learn; to do that they must be learners of literacy.
To begin, literacy strategies were used successfully in not only English classes, but in
science classes that were taught by Mrs. Jordan and Mrs. Holman. For example, in one of the
first recitation classes, Mrs. Holman and Mrs. Orswell taught that rote memorization was not an
effective way of learning. They taught that in order to learn most effectively, students should
create some sort of visual or another connection to go along with the word so that more dendrites
would be connected and the vocabulary word could then be recalled more easily. The instructors
shared two models that could be used for this purpose: the verbal visual and the Frayer model.
The following week I observed how to use the Frayer model to optimize learning; during class,
students were split into pairs and given a concept that they had been working with and would be
tested on to complete the Frayer model on a white board. Students then walked around the

classroom and quizzed themselves on the concept based on examples, characteristics, nonexamples, and the definition of the concept. As I walked around the classroom, I saw students
that were engaged with the learning, they were questioning each other on what the concepts
meant and how to apply them to their class. At the end of the class, the students knew what
concepts they understood because they were able to correct their classmates boards and they
knew what they still needed to study if they were having trouble identifying the concepts. Not
only were the students active in their learning because there was an element of creativity, but
they were using multiple parts of the brain and really thinking about how to define concepts
which seemed to have made a huge difference in how much they learned. I believe that this is a
great way for students to have fun while studying and it keeps them accountable for what they
need to know.
Another instance of literacy being used in science class was when Mrs. Jordan taught her
class how to use Cornell notes. Before observing this strategy in lab, Mrs. Orswell and Mrs.
Holman shared with us The Curve of Forgetting an article from the AVID website that states
that after something is learned, if no recursive learning is done, within two days of learning 5080% will be forgotten. The AVID program aims to combat this with the literacy strategy of
Cornell notes. Cornell notes are set up in a way that allows students to document what they think
is important which engages them in the learning, but it is also set up so that students can quickly
review their notes for a few minutes each day which combats the curve of forgetting. These
assets of the Cornell style of note taking become evident in Mrs. Jordans class when a guest
lecturer was invited to speak to the students about fossils and Mrs. Jordan modeled Cornell notes
to the class based off of his lecture. As the speaker was lecturing, Mrs. Jordan would write what
she thought was most important about the lecture on the right side of the board, then after she

would both ask students what questions they thought could be on a test based off the notes and
added what she thought was testable. As I was observing the class, I could tell that the students
were actively listening because they knew they would be held accountable for the information.
They also engaged with the information because they were creating questions based off of what
they learned. They were really thinking about what was important and what was extraneous
instead of just relying on the notes that Mrs. Jordan took; they had the ability to customize their
learning to what they thought was important and interested them. I think that this is important in
the learning process because in schools students often become disengaged because they believe
that what they are learning is not relevant. This helps to combat the curve of forgetting and
apathy in students.
Perhaps one of the most important literacy strategies that I observed, that I believe is
useful in all aspects of life, was the three text connections that students could make: text to self,
text to text, and text to world. In recitation, we read an article from readwritethink.org about
making text connections and its importance to understanding text. The article argues,
Strategic reading allows students to monitor their own thinking and make connections
between texts and their own experiences. Students who make connections while reading are
better able to understand the text they are readingWhich makes them more engaged in the
reading experience.
These connections are vital not only to understanding the text, but to understanding the
world around us, or our fellow humans. I observed students making connections to the world
around them when they created a timeline of the earth with a scale. It was profound to see
students make the connection of how small the time of the humans was compared to how long
the earth has been around. This assignment created meaning by giving students something to
connect to.

The above strategies not only helped students understand the material, but they were then
able to communicate what they learned with each other, make their learning more personalized
and interesting, and remember what they learned more easily.
In addition to science classes, literacy strategies were helpful in teaching students with
special needs in Mrs. Bauldridges classroom. These strategies, aimed at helping students
understand reading, were also useful in helping students communicate what they learned with
each other, much like the way the custom book defines literacy; they were able to engage with
the world around them and the literacy strategies made this easier. For instance, students in Mrs.
Bauldridges class read a book about a superhero squirrel. They, at times, had a hard time
communicating why they thought characters did what they did or what they wanted to
accomplish. One day we wrote a RAFT where they chose one character they wanted to be and
one character they wanted to write to about what makes a superhero. During the activity, the
students had a much easier time communicating what they characters wanted because they were
thrust into the position of the character and got to be creative. For these students, the RAFT
activity helped them to better understand the motives of characters in a fictional book which
helped them to understand the book, however, I think that this activity can even better be used in
the non-fiction genre to understand motives and the zeitgeist of a time period. It can also help to
make dry reading more engaging and easier to focus on.
While the aforementioned strategies were instrumental in the students learning, what I
found to be most influential in my learning was the way that Mrs. Bauldridge worked to build
dendrite connections. In our book, Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning, Judy
Willis, M.D. states:
From brain mapping we know that predictable tiny regions of the brain are where specific
cognitive activities take place. Similarly, imaging has show us that each of these locations is fed

data from brain centers that collect information from the senses and emotions. When students
build their working memories through a variety of activities, they are stimulating multiple
sensoty intake centers in their brainsby stimulating several sense with the information, more
brain connections are available when students need to recall that memory later on. (10)
Mrs. Bauldridge took this a step further by stimulating both auditory, visual, and kinesthetic
learning. She would have students work on their reading skills by reading one word out loud,
then putting a movement to each syllable and repeating. On top of this, she would take the same
words that the students were saying out loud and organize them on a piece of paper and assign
color to certain sounds because the brain learns in color. Watching this in her classroom was
pivotal to my learning because throughout the four weeks that I spent with her, I saw the students
respond positively and show a marked improvement in the fluency of their reading when we read
aloud. I also obtained new ways to help my students when they are having trouble remembering
a concept.
Not only have I seen how all teachers are teachers of literacy in my labs, but I have seen
it in my own schooling, most memorably in EDUC340. Dr. Seahorn doesnt just teach us how to
teach most effectively to the brain and how literacy plays a role in all education, but she models
it. For example, on our first day of class we learned about how students need both visual and
verbal instruction. She would always get our attention by standing in a specific spot (visual) and
asking for us to listen (verbal). Dr. Seahorn told us that in order for us to get attention effectively
we had to be consistent and give students multiple mediums through which they get attention.
Moreover, Dr. Seahorn taught us the importance that being literate has on life. She told us that
exposure to language is correlated to IQ and that being literate is vital to education because
learning is based on reading. She used these facts to introduce literacy strategies and followed
these strategies up by explaining how, according to neuroscience, help students remember

important information. She taught us that literacy is all about comprehending and
communicating whether it be with texts or with the world around us.
Clearly, no matter what subject is being taught, it is vital that students are able to engage
with a text and communicate what they have learned to their peers and teachers. For this reason,
all teachers must take an interest in ensuring that students are literate in their subjects; they must
process information from multiple media forms and use what they have learned to engage with
the world around them. For this reason, when we look at literacy as being ways of making and
communicating meaning, all teachers are teachers of literacy and, therefore, reading.
Part 2
These labs have been instrumental not only in teaching me better, more effective ways to
teach, but they have given me inspiration on how to use literacy strategies in my own classroom
in order to facilitate learning. I believe that the following five literacy strategies are the most
instrumental in teaching students in the English content area how to be successful in their
schooling and in their communications in life.
First of all, I believe that the KWL strategy is key to learning because of the way that it
helps students recall prior knowledge and how it can connect different subjects to create a strong
learning environment. A KWL is created when students create three column notes where one
column is reserved for things the students know, one for what the students want to learn, and one
for what the students learned. I would use the KWL as a way of connecting English with History.
For example, if we were reading A Tale of Two Cities, I would turn have students do a KWL on
what they know and want to know about the French Revolution and then on what they learned
about it. This would build dendrites and make the setting understandable. I believe this linking of

different content areas is helpful for showing students how things are interconnected in education
and on a larger scale the world.
Next, because the English content area is vocabulary heavy I would utilize the Frayer
model for learning vocabulary, especially in preparation for standardized testing. For instance, I
would use it in conjunction with novel reading. I would have students read a text and pick out
words that they dont know, they would then fold a piece of paper so that it has four sections. In
one section the students would write characteristics of the word, in another they would write the
definition, in another they would write examples, in the last they would write non-examples, and
in the middle they would write the word. After creating the model, they would hang them in the
classroom. This strategy of learning new concepts is beneficial in schooling and in a work
environment where new terms are thrown at you and you need to learn them quickly.
Third, I think that Cornell notes are beneficial for education because it creates a way for
students to become engaged in customizing their education by creating test questions and
because they combat the curve of forgetting. I would have students set up their Cornell notes by
making a smaller column on the left side of the page, a larger one on the right and a section for
summary on the bottom. They would then takes notes on a text on the right side and create
testable questions on the left. I would ask them to turn it in and then make test questions out of
the questions they created so that they would be tested on things they found important.
Furthermore, semantic mapping can be used to help a student understand a text and
organize their thoughts in a creative way. I believe that creating a venn diagram (a pair of
overlapping circles used to compare and contrast something where characteristics of one thing go
in one circle, characteristics of the other go in the other circle, and shared characteristics go in
the overlapping part) would be a great end of the year project to tie together everything that has

been taught. I would have my texts split into groups within a certain time period and have
students compare and contrast themes, character qualities, rhetoric devices etc. of the texts and
then use that as an outline for an essay comparing and contrasting the works.
Finally, I would love to use the RAFT strategy, a strategy where students are given a role,
an audience, and a specific topic to write in any form (text, letter, essay, etc.), to make boring
topics come to life. One way I could do this is through a grammar unit. I could assign a student
to create a RAFT where a comma writes a letter to a semi colon about comma splices and other
rules could be assigned to other students to present to the class.
All in all, the literacy strategies that I have learned will help me immensely in my work
as a teacher. I believe that my students will benefit from them and will grasp the idea that literacy
applies to all areas of life and not just English. I hope to connect students with the world around
them by teaching effective ways of communication; a huge component of literacy.

Works Cited
Holman, Debra. "Literacy and the Learner." EDUC 340. Colorado, Wellington. 2014. Lecture.
Orswell, Renee. "Literacy and the Learner." EDUC 340. Colorado, Wellington. 2014. Lecture.
Seahorn, Janet. "Literacy and the Learner." EDUC 340. Colorado, Fort Collins. 2014. Lecture.
Vacca, Jo Anne L. "Literacy Matters." Pearson Custom Education: EDUC 340 Literacy and the
Learner. By Richard T. Vacca. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2011. 1-29. Print.
Willis, Judy. Research-based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist
and Classroom Teacher. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development, 2006. Print.