Using Written Language to Promote Emergent Literacy Development

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  • 0:03 Emergent Literacy
  • 0:51 Classroom Rules & Routines
  • 1:43 Calendars, Maps, & Schedules
  • 2:18 Morning Message
  • 2:53 Student Reading & Writing
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

The more exposure young children have to written language, the better accustomed they'll become to the relationship between the written word and spoken language. In this lesson, we'll look at classroom activities that use written language to support emergent literacy development.

Emergent Literacy

Jamie has been teaching four-year-olds for the last ten years. Though Jamie's students mostly do not know how to read and write, she understands that they are in a phase called emergent literacy. Emergent literacy is an exciting time that carries children all the way from the early development of spoken language to independent reading and writing.

She works hard to support her emergent readers and writers as they begin to understand the connection between words on a page (or on signs), and words they use to tell stories or talk to one another. She has learned over the years that the more students are exposed to print, the better prepared they'll be to take on reading and writing. She, therefore, makes sure that her classroom is a print-rich environment, or one filled with opportunities for children to experience the power and significance of the written word.

Classroom Rules & Routines

Jamie keeps a chart with her classroom rules posted prominently in her classroom. She refers to these rules frequently and has her students draw pictures to go along with each rule. Part of the reason for this is, of course, connected to behavior management, but she also understands that when she points to a rule and reads it out loud, her students are beginning to connect the words she is pointing to with the words she is saying.

Similarly, Jamie keeps charts that use a combination of pictorial icons and written words to show various classroom routines. For instance, she has charts that write out expectations for what students will do on morning arrival or as they prepare to go outside or clean up after lunch. These charts give students increasing familiarity with the way commonly used words look when they are written down. She keeps the writing minimal and simple and makes sure to reference the charts as frequently as possible.

Calendars, Maps, & Schedules

Just as Jamie writes rules and routines, she makes sure to go over the calendar and daily schedule each day with her students, using a pointer to indicate where she has written down what they should expect on a particular day. She also uses writing to label maps of places they will visit.

She knows that when students see writing used to label activities and places, they'll understand the importance of written language in a variety of contexts. She also writes captions to student work and photographs that she hangs around the room to help students understand how powerfully writing can help communicate a story or idea.

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