The pillars of Hogarth’s early literacy curriculum include the Agenda, storytime with pre- and post-reading discussions, and Tweeting. With the addition of reporting, our early literacy curriculum is unparalleled.
Where did I get my idea for creating a child journalism program? Posting timely blog entries that report on our daily activities is a challenge. I decided to try a new blogging approach in May 0f 2015. The children started writing most of the Highlights blog entries by dictating their reports to me to post on the blog at the end of the day.
How do I explain it to the children? I tell them they are my Hogarth reporters. I explain that reporters bring news to people. They tell people about events those people did not witness. Since they’re the only ones to go to Hogarth in their families, it’s up to them to report the Hogarth news for their families to read at home.
I explain the difference between Reporting and Tweeting. Reporters report the facts of that one particular school day. Tweeters write about anything their hearts desire. Each child won’t act as a reporter every day, but each child reports at least once a week.
Reporting impacts the children’s early literacy skills in a big way. Questions and prompts from me give direction and clarification to the reporting process during the introductory period. Going over the events of the day in their minds, pulling out those bits of information they feel are important, and then articulating their thoughts in such a way that the reader gets a full picture is going to sharpen their powers of observation and make them more mindful of the unfolding school day. Thinking over the day also gives the children an opportunity to review the material we covered. Listening to their responses lets me know if I presented the material clearly enough to be understood.
As a teacher, I love hearing the children retell the stories we read each day. It lets me see how much of a connection there is between the children and the stories. As a writer, I love hearing what the children take away from the stories. What “speaks” to them. I look to see what works in a story and what falls flat. I find inspiration for my writing in their reporting!
The children’s reports are written verbatim. I want each child to have his or her own authentic voice. I think you’ll find these Highlights reports great fun to read. Here are a few samples reports:
Logan: We read a soft cover book and it was called Beach Day! (Italicized print that follows is Logan reading directly from the book.) “Hot!” said Sam. “Sunny, ” said Pam. “Sweaty,” said Will. “Swim?” said Jill. “Beach!” said Sam, Pam, Will, and Jill. They decided to go to the beach and they were going to play because they saw a park. And they pedaled up and down and under and even through a mountain of clover. And then one said, “Picnic.” “Sandwich,” said Sam. “Pasta,” said Pam. “Pickles,” said Will. “Burp!” said Jill. They napped and then they slept past 1 and they slept past 2 and they slept past 3 and they slept past 4. “Let’s go!” said Sam. “But where?” said Pam. “Over there!” said Will. That hill?” said Jill. “Push!” said Sam, Pam, Will, and Jill. “Beach!” said Sam, Pam, Will, and Jill. They swam by the light of the moon.
Hazel: We made kites. Miss Vicki put the string on for me and I got the same thing as Alba. The same thing, but not the same size. Actually, it is the same size. I put an aqua flower on it and a bunch of stuff on it. I did holding the flag and we did Pledge of Allegiance together with Miss Murphy and Miss Vicki. I played in the yard over there at the end of Miss Murphy’s desk. I put animals in it and I made a huge yard!
Jackson: We had bananas and crackers and apple juice and water. We learned about mammals on the Animal Alphabet. Mammals have hair or fur and they make milk for their babies. We found even and odd numbers. (By counting the numbers of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects in the Animal Alphabet.)
Alba: I wrote LAFNT in my Journal. It’s called Kid Spelling. I drew a picture of an elephant in my Journal. I did a Tweet.