Welcome to my Blog! Hello, my name is MaryLouise and I am a Special Education Language Arts Teacher. I have utilized my lesson plans and other original teaching material to create picture books, workbooks, nonfiction and fiction articles and teacher's guides for educational resources.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Today's Topic: How Educators Use Picture Books In The Classroom

Writers and Illustrators...have you ever wondered how your picture books and stories are utilized in the classroom? Current elementary, middle and high school teachers are supplementing the curriculum with picture books to increase student engagement, enhance learning and solidify teaching objectives.
Today's interview is with Ms. Sue Dimoia, MA-CCC-SLP, who holds a B.S. in Education, Masters of Arts in Speech Pathology, and an Education Masters in English Education with TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Specialization.
How have you used children's books (picture) in the classroom?
For classroom lessons, I usually pick a theme that addresses an objective that students need to learn. The autistic support classes were going to the zoo for a class trip. In order to help prepare them for it, we discussed some of the things you would see at the zoo. The social piece dealt with how you would wait in line, greet people and ask for things politely, and take turns so other people can have access to the exhibits. I used picture books to reinforce language, vocabulary, punctuation, expanding language, and voice issues.
Can you list picture books that you have used to target these objectives?
To reinforce counting and language skills I used Eric Carle's 1,2,3 to the Zoo A Counting Book.
I used Put Me In the Zoo by Robert Lopshire to teach social skills. We want to be accepted for who we are and to belong to a community. This is a comical children's book about an animal that wants a home and to belong. Another book that I have used in the classroom to teach social skills and what to expect at the zoo is called Let's Go to the Zoo.
Tell us more!
Here's another example of how I use children's books in the classroom. I was doing language support with 4th grade students who were completing a unit on the Rain Forest. I choose a specific book by Lynn Cherry called The Great Kapok Tree. This story has a message about deforestation and the importance of conservation. As we read the story, I targeted many different skills such as: listening comprehension, predicting outcomes, finding solutions to problems, reinforcing curriculum based vocabulary, targeting words with specific sounds, and for expanding descriptive language.
Please explain how you would present a picture book to your students.
I basically have to choose a story that is flexible enough to meet a multitude of students' needs.
I read slowly and with expression because many children have comprehension deficits, as well as auditory processing deficits and also attention issues. We talk about the author and the title and depending on the students' level, I ask them to make predictions. I do a book walk and we talk about the pictures and I ask for a response from all students to keep all students engaged in the lesson. For the higher level students, I ask wh questions (who, what, when, where, why) and critical thinking questions with descriptions and descriptive language.
What type of children's book is there a need for?
I would like to see more children's books that deal with explaining autism to typically developing kids. If I had books to explain some of the autistic behavior, it would serve as a springboard for discussion to set up some type of buddy or peer mentor system between regular education classes and special education classes. There seems to be books written like this especially for younger children, but I'd like to see more books written for upper elementary grades and older students. Also there needs to be more books dealing with explaining the death of a pet. I've recently lost my beloved dog and have been questioned by the students about this and sometimes I'm at a loss as to how to explain the loss of a pet. Students of all ages usually have pets and this could benefit them greatly. As a speech therapist, this would be a good way to use language on a personal level as in relating a personal experience. Students can share experiences with each other and realize they have things in common. This type of book would be especially beneficial for students with limited language and/or autistic spectrum disorders...it's a good way learn about how to show appropriate expressions and feelings of emotion.

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