Observing Literacy in the Classroom

Within my internship at Hays Consolidated Independent School Districts’ Dahlstrom Middle School, I have had the opportunity to observe and learn. Throughout this experience I have watched teachers work with their students and have had the chance to notice how literacy is being implemented in today’s classrooms. I have observed a 7th grade art class, 8th grade math class, and 6th grade art class. From these observations, I have witnessed clear examples of utilizing literacy in the classroom and have comprised ways in which literacy can be better utilized.

At Dahlstrom Middle School, students are encouraged to expand upon and use their literacy skills constantly. In art class, they are assigned to draw cursive names, utilizing their cursive English skills and in math class they are required to write about the purpose of proportionality. Students are expected to be able to read and write and to be able to communicate within these means in order to learn and grow. During advisory period every Monday, students must silently read for a set period of time, further encouraging students to keep books on them and to read them during class and within free time. From this activity, I have noticed that many Dahlstrom students have fostered a love of reading and will partake in the act whenever possible. Students are also engaged in class discussions often, allowing them to hear from other students and to share their own thoughts and ideas with their peers. During class discussions, students learn from each other as they practice their talking and listening skills. Communication skills are an important part of the Dahlstrom Middle School curriculum.

Recently, Dahlstrom Middle School has adopted a new set of graphic organizers to help students arrange their thoughts and retain information. Every content area within the school must use a unit organizer that visually shows the purpose of a lesson and how it relates to prior knowledge and key ideas. These unit organizers include graphs and images in which students write information pertaining to the lesson. Paired with the unit organizers are FRAME routines that also arrange information in a graphical way. Similar to the unit organizers, the FRAME routines include blank graphics from which the students must fill in with information in order to create a logical organization of information. Because all of the content areas at Dahlstrom have adopted this form of visual learning, literacy will be enhanced among the students and utilized in the same way amongst all classes.

While Dahlstrom is making an effort to improve literacy amongst its students, I have ideas in mind that may help even further. I have noticed a lack of outside resources used within the classes such as audio and visual sources. Examples or demonstrations from videos, the Internet, or other sources could be utilized within the classrooms to increase interest in the subject and broaden students’ pool of knowledge. I have also noticed a lack of research done within the classes as the library and computer labs remain underutilized. It has been explained that these resources are difficult to utilize during class time because of approval requirements, but if these requirements were made easier to achieve, the students could benefit from conducting their own research and directing their own learning. Even if computers were not easily accessible, students could research from texts within and outside of the classroom. Any chance for students to learn from an outside source will help broaden his views and expand his mind.

Overall, it seems that Dahlstrom Middle School is successfully integrating literacy amongst its curriculum. Students are required to read and write within their classrooms and are given the opportunities to speak and listen to each other’s points of views. Students are engaged in a wide variety of activities and benefit from different teaching styles. Instructional frameworks are used alongside graphic organizers, and vocabulary and comprehension is emphasized. I am thankful to have this opportunity to witness literacy being successfully integrated within a middle school in such a way that benefits students and improves the effectiveness of instruction.