Authentic Literacy Activities for Developing Comprehension and Writing
The article describes a two-year study that involved 26-second grade and third grade teachers and their students from school districts serving families of low and middle socioeconomic status. The purpose of the study was to develop students’ ability to understand and write informational and procedural text. The study found that teachers who included authentic literacy activities more of the time had students who showed higher growth in both comprehension and writing.
Critique This article provides teachers with evidence from research that states that more authentic literacy activities are related to greater growth in the ability to read and write new genres. The article offers an operational definition of authentic literacy that helps teachers create authentic literacy activities across the curriculum. Also provided are ideas and strategies collected from teachers for teachers to bring authentic reading and writing into the classroom.
To assist teachers in creating authentic learning opportunities for students there is an authenticity rating sheet provided that uses a 3-point scale to rate the degree to which the reason of an informational text being written or read in the classroom reflect the actual purpose of an informational text. One of the greatest contributions is the various easy to do lessons provided for authentic reading and writing created to implement authentic activities in the classroom.
The article falls short in that it doesn’t provide samples of students work to show how successful authentic activities were in increasing students comprehension and writing skills. Students voices, opinions were not heard. Were they stressed out about the activities? Were they excited about doing the activities? Did they prefer this type of activity? Though the article mentioned the teacher’s thoughts on student’s performance it did not list the students. I still don’t know if students felt these learning experiences increased their comprehension and writing skills.
The authors could provide examples of students work and also provide statements from the students and teachers involved in the study. This will be evidence that the research even occurred. Also the authors could provide some sort of chart with a comparison of students writing and reading comprehension skills before and after they entered the study. This will provide documented evidence that authentic activities build comprehension and writing skills. Research Pedagogical Implications
This article helps me to think about the importance of providing opportunities for students to experience authenticity in their learning experiences. After reading this article I am convinced that there is a need for more research to be done on young children that provides teachers with more information about authentic reading and writing opportunities in the classroom. Research in the field is mostly done with adults leaving teachers with information that may not be accurate for a younger audience. A great idea I will incorporate into my work is getting colleagues to request artifacts produced by my students.
This will make their learning experience highly authentic in that they will be producing text that will be used outside of the classroom and may help in others learning. For example one of the third grade teachers asked a colleague to come to her class and ask her students to create informational texts about animals that live in the rain forest for her first grade students. This experience provides my students and her students an opportunity to learn. The strategies provided in this article for authentic activities in science I will use across the curriculum.
For example I can have a teacher ask my students to create Haiku poems for her to use to help her students with poetry. Maybe have the gym teacher ask students to create a nutrition pyramid to help her teach health education. In my research report I will provide evidence of children’s growth by showing their progress on before and after charts. I will provide samples of children’s work as evidence that the lessons and strategies provided really work to improve students writing. It would be important for me to know if students themselves felt they were motivated by the lesson. Also did students feel they learned from the activity.