Thursday, June 20, 2013

Literacy As More Than Language Arts Class

As we continue to move forward with re-defining programming for the students that I used to teach in a fully self-contained classroom, I continue to rethink literacy learning and instruction from something being done during Language Arts or English class to something a lot more wholistic that reaches across all aspects of a student's education. 
A few days ago, I came across the LATCH ON: Literacy and Technology program for adults with intellectual disabilities while looking to find out what is "out there" by way of adult education for this population of young adults.  I was drawn to the diagram that I included above because it reflects the components that I believe are important to literacy programming for the population of students that i work.  For any population really but with this population I believe we need to more intentional about seeing the literacy potential throughout their day. 
I have come to see literacy programming as focusing widely on comprehension and expression... not just of text... not just of speech... but of everything around us.  
With this definition of literacy in mind, I am thinking forward about how to most effectively set up literacy programming for students with significant needs at the Junior and Senior high school level.  How do we balance inclusive practices and the specialized literacy instruction or assistive technology learning that they may need?  
The diagram above seems to be a good starting place.  If we were to step back and take a look at each student's schedule and think through how we can intentionally embed the literacy skill learning related to that element in to their "regular school day" we could also start to see if there are "holes" in their overall program.  Then we can look a little deeper and see if there are other ways to address those "holes" within the context of what is already happening for that student or make a decision around the need for direct instruction, either in the or out of the classroom dependent on the skill, in that area. 
It is partially reflective of what we are doing now with our students but I'm seeing a need to take another step forward in formalizing this approach.  A good place to start building this is these explanations of key elements of Literacy

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