Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Concepts of Print with the Speaking Raven

How Speaking Raven helped me write a new Concept of Print Assessment Story

By Donna Klockars

Yes, it is true I speak some Raven.  Mrs. Raven and her long-time partner, Mr. Raven, like to relax and reflect on their day, while perched on the back fence at my farm. Often, Mrs. R becomes obviously unchallenged by Hubby’s repetitive toc- tocs, and turns her attention to me. If I start talking Raven, she will answer and give me feedback on how I am doing.  I give Mrs. R full marks for being a top shelf teacher and I owe her big time for my much improved Raven vocabulary.  I hear you... You are wondering how does speaking fluent Raven have anything to do with my detective work about Concepts About Print?

Well, you may already know about my on-going mission (at this point some might say obsession) to unravel the mysteries around how the very young arrive at their understandings about how squiggly lines go together to reveal delightful stories. And there is something really important about rhyming! It’s as if we are wired for rhythm and rhyme from the get go.  Even the tiniest of the short people coo and grin to the most ridiculous sing-songy poems.  I wonder how and why some kids use rhythm and rhyme to help them read. I want to know more about how children pick up on a rhyming pattern and use it to successfully predict and unlock unfamiliar words.  I am also always looking for fun ways to bring rhyme and rhythm into play based activities. I figure the more times kids bump into fun poems and songs, the better!

You might remember that Melanie and I have presented “Three Stories a Day” to our favourite shorter friends at the Boys and Girls Club. We have talked about letters, learned songs (The Salmon Song), noticed patterns in books (In Went Mouse), and discovered honey sandwiches stick to Little Bear’s bottom. (The Sandwich Mystery). This Wednesday we will feature a story I wrote that uses rhymes.

Here is a bit of background on the story.  The book is in keeping with what we all know about Raven. She is bossy, self-centred, and a consummate planner. She decides it’s time for a party, and this girl is able to deliver! She sends out the invitations to all her Pine Forest friends. She calls out to each one of her buddies with one of her calls and the animals respond by running, flying, hopping or leaping to the party; and it ends with lots of splash time –hence the title:  

Here are the first pages:
Pond Party, Pond Party
 Fun, Fun, Fun.
Pond Party, Pond Party
Glide, Glide, Glide.

Pond Party, Pond Party, 
Fun, Fun, Fun
Run Deer, Run Deer,
Run, Run, Run.
More examples include:
Pond Party Pond Party,
Talk ,Talk, Talk!
Walk Moose Walk Moose
Walk, Walk, Walk.

Pond Party, Pond Party,
My, My, My.
Fly Eagle. Fly Eagle,
Fly, Fly, Fly
Because I know Raven, I was able to write sixteen more pages.  I used the same sentence stem for each page, followed by a page featuring the action the animal uses to get to the party. The action word has to rhyme with the raven call.  There are picture clues, a repetitive sentence stem, the rhyming pairs, along with the child’s background knowledge about Raven’s bossy ways and loud calls.  The last few pages change. There is a picture of a goose crashing...followed by the word SPLASH. I am interested to see if the kids pay attention to this new format.

These are things that I hope our young readers tap into while they are listening/reading the text.  So while I am reading this story, Melanie will be watching to see if the kids notice that there is a pattern and that the pattern includes a set of rhyming words. We will work on rounding up the rhymes during our small group table work. We will act out the animal’s actions when we go outside and of course there will be plenty of time to speak Raven...It’s easy if you try!

With the morning framed up around hearing rhymes and noticing patterns, we will have a chance to observe how the kids are progressing with these important concepts that help support their efforts to make sense of print.  Every time I have a chance to watch and listen to young children, I am amazed how smart they are! If the story is good, they pay attention to important key features. When they put together the puzzle and determine a pattern, you can see the twinkle in their eyes. When the story makes sense and they connect with the character; you, caring story teller and the shorter person are skipping along with sheer joy. Ahh-For the Love of Reading!

As always, In friendship,

Donna -aka-The Literacy Lady

P.S Here is a short list of vocalizations documented in the scientific literature I found when I googled raven calls:

Assembly call, simple scolding call, modified scolding call, alert or warning call, dispersal or alarming call, distress call, pre-morbidity or death call, distress call, defensive or threat call, frustration notes, immature hunger and feeding calls, adult food call, announcement call, contact call, duets notes, courtship vocalizations, juvenile notes, contentment notes, rattling notes, mimicry

Jayden, watching a Pond Party at Oliver Woods.

All animal images accessed [04.29.14] from http://www.arkive.org/

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