Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Apprenticeships and Our Children
Children learn through observation and performance. They will watch adults and peers closely to gain knowledge about how people do certain things. Then, when they can gain the confidence, which can be fostered by a safe, supportive, and risk-taking encouraged environment, they will try it for themselves! Specifically when looking at a child's development through literacy, we see children imitating writing styles and spelling words from memory. For example, a student in first grade recently heard his teacher read a book about a mean, awful teacher. The children laughed at this book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Later in the day, Kenny decided to write his own version of this type of story-line. He wrote a story containing 45 words. Included in his story are 19 words that he spelled conventionally, we call this conventional spelling. The other 26 words were words that he spelled to the best of his ability. We can call these words "inventive spelling," or "temporary spelling." Kenny did a great job correctly spelling 19 words, but more valuable than these words are the 26 inventive words. Here, we can learn about Kenny's though process through literacy. We know that he has some background knowledge about words, possibly memorization. Instead of demonstrating strict "sounding out," Kenny spelled "was" w-u-s. This means that he knew the word contained and "s," instead of placing the right sound, a "z," at the end of the word. Inventive spelling is a great way to dig into a child's brain and understand their concepts of literacy. Without this freedom to spell things "incorrectly," children would miss out on this opportunity for creative, real, and interesting literacy experiences. Although names for this type of spelling differ, I have come to appreciate "inventive spelling," "temporary spelling," and the "developmental form of spelling." I prefer using these terms instead of wrong spelling because it is important to realize that this is a phase for children: an important phase. Children will move out of this developmental stage, but it should not be forced. Teachers can use inventive spelling to further understand and appreciate the children in their classrooms. What an amazingly beautiful picture of a child's pure thoughts and ideas!