I have a master's degree from the Bank Street College of Education in New York City in early childhood and elementary school education. I taught Pre-K through 3rd grade for 10 years and part-time as a substitute, librarian, tutor, assistant and afterschool teacher. I am currently running a storytime program, where I read to children three days a week, and I am a regular caregiver to a 4, 7 and 10-year-old.
As a 3rd grade teacher I have taught environmental studies, which included recycling, worm composting, the water cycle and rainforest ecology. I also taught geology, which included testing and identifying minerals for their characteristic attributes, volcanoes, earthquakes and a mixed social studies/science unit on archaeology using dig boxes, screens and recording of data. The solar system was another unit of study I taught along with the phases of our moon. I have done planting projects and terrariums with children and continue to have an interest in biology, animals and any kind of hands-on scientific projects.
As a teacher in contained elementary classrooms, I have taught all of the components of using language for reading, writing and learning. These include; phonics (decoding), reading (putting words back together, or encoding), spelling, vocabulary and creative writing. Phonics are the initial tools to creating the building blocks of language. Learning consonant sounds and basic short and long vowel sounds are only the beginning. The more complex vowel combinations and consonant/vowel combinations need specific study of the various rules and exceptions that exist in the English language.
In the early grades, K-2 students focus on letter sounds, phonics, decoding words and using invented spelling to create words to do their own story writing. As they move into more complex curriculum they are no longer learning to read but reading to learn. Learning how to break down the code of written language in order to use comprehension, critical thinking skills and to express their own thoughts is critical to a student's future success. As a teacher in Pre-K through 3rd grade I have worked with children in all of these areas.
Whether or not you have access to SpellCheck, there is no replacement for a human being's ability to recognize a homophone or homonym that can change the whole meaning of a sentence. Some people are instinctively good spellers but anyone can learn to keep lists of frequently misspelled words, memorize rules, use resource books and other editing strategies to improve their spelling ability. Incorrect spelling can draw attention away from a writer's style, skill or intention and cloud the reader's judgment of the actual writing. I am a stickler for good spelling and because it can be frustrating, I like to make it fun by using word games, memory associations, rhyme and music.
Vocabulary and context are the keys to understanding anything you are reading. As an early reader learning a lifelong habit of reading and enjoying books, a student learning new material, a listener understanding a story, play or conversation, or a writer, having a varied and extensive vocabulary is very important. Improving your vocabulary and knowing how to find out the meaning of a word are basic skills that I always stress in teaching reading and writing.
Whether expressing feelings, ideas or synthesizing information, it is very important to be able to communicate clearly through writing. As a 3rd grade teacher, I utilized the Writer's Workshop model created by Lucy Calkins, which I learned attending summer workshops at Columbia University's Teachers College. This process helps students edit their work by giving mini-lessons in specific writing challenges such as punctuation, run-on sentences, brainstorming for new ideas and focusing on having a clear beginning, middle and end. I enjoy creative writing as a hobby and have written children's stories and plays for my students to perform.