Monday, June 20, 2011

Literature Based Instruction~

I had recently seen a great article from the ByrdSeed Gifted Blog entitled
" Teaching With Literature in the Primary Grades".  I had posted about it on my facebook page but realized this article while good, was specific to teaching only in the primary grades.

I loved the examples the article gave but could think of identifying and explaining all kinds of older, gifted or twice exceptional children could benefit from teaching this way.

My boys love learning this way~ as they grow older we have narrowed much more in our learning due to preparation for college and the feeling like you "have to learn this" or "have to do that" sort of thing. I am not so sure that is so helpful.

Perhaps by being more creative and intuitive in our teaching we can combine both worlds of the necessary studies and also the more creative, delight directed approach as well.  I really think the both can co-exist in an at-home setting.

Planning may be a key factor especially as our learners grow older and objectives and goals become more and more important factors in their learning. Finding and discussing which books you will be reading together and also separate is helpful. One idea might be having a spine book as your read aloud while then having the children read their own articles, websites, or lower leveled books also for further exploring and understanding on a topic.

Using a literature based learning approach woven into your eclectic homeschooling style can give your homeschool a much more "authentic" and deepened approach to learning . Research has shown us that  "literature-based instruction helps all students become better readers, writers, and thinkers (Tunnell & Jacobs, 1989)." ~Tunnell, M.O., & Jacobs, J.S. (1989). Using real books: Research ÞFindings on literature-based instruction. The Reading Teacher, 42(7), 470-477. and more research here about Literature based instruction.

Many have become quite surprised at how in our home learning we have never used a vocabulary program, ever. We really find we don't need it. Often times, people will ask my children how old they are or more like what grade they are in.  They become very surprised when they find out their ages and grades because they often use words that are not normally used with other children their own ages.   How do we do this?
We read and we talk ALOT. Its just that simple. I have never dumbed down words for my boys we talk in terms that often might loose some children and yet my boys if they are not aware of a word I am using will just ask me what the meaning is. I consider this a great advantage in the home environment for learning. 

I really think I have overlooked quite a bit of how we actually use a literature based method in our home learning. For us, it comes a bit more natural - I am not exactly sure why it just does.  Some may call this kind of learning "bunny trails" or somewhat "delight directed" but for us it can feel like bunny trails at times but is more a kind of inquiry. I really found the boys can certainly find ways to "take off" on a topic and from the very book we are learning from it can grow into something really very amazing.

One program that taught me a great deal about this kind of teaching is Five in a Row and Beyond Five in a Row. ( they have recently added a program for highschool called Above and Beyond Five in a Row) I read through some of the younger lessons in FIAR and picked up how they incorporated an inquiry based learning into the stories. Beyond Five in a Row cemented things for me as to how to go about using the boys reading books both fiction AND non-fiction to be able to do this.

A great website to use as a resource that I have used countless times is Homeschool Share. It is a literature based website that offers countless lesson plans, unit studies and lapbook activities based on many different literature books you can choose from. If someone was interested in just trying out a literature based approach I would recommend this site first. The plans/lessons are entirely free and are just wonderful. These lessons can really give you some great ideas for books you might have at home to use as well.

I remember a while ago my youngest had been reading "The Littles" ( the first book in the series) We had just finished up reading the Boxcar Children and used lesson units for the book from Homeschool Share ( just a note their Boxcar Children only does about 4-5 units only they did not finish it so we just did things ourselves afterwards with the rest of the chapters. Had I known this I probably would not have started our first literature based lesson with this one) my son really enjoyed it and so I decided to tackle one on our own.  Here is what I did~ I read through the first couple of chapters and found ways to integrate other learning subjects with those chapters.  This was my first one I tried out~ we worked like this up through several chapters of the book ( this might give an example of how you can build your own literature based integrated unit study)

flip through the rest of the excerpt here

I also found this outline to help in considering a literature unit study. I thought it was very good and I hope others find it encouraging as well.

I really think it is worthwhile to try this out in your homeschooling if you have never done it before, we were really surprised at how well this works for us~


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