How do you teach a child to read? Not a generic child, but a specific child with specific challenges. Belle Raim and Becky Marder are students in the reading education Master’s program at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. As part of the program, each of them spent an academic year working with a student whose literacy behaviors were seen as a puzzle to their classroom teacher. In the fall they assessed their students to determine literacy strengths and areas for improvement, and in the spring they implemented a targeted instructional plan with the classroom teacher. And at the end of this “Puzzle Child Project,” they were asked by their instructor, Justine Bruyère, to reflect on the entire process in an audio project for Justine’s course, “Literacy for Diverse and Special Needs Learners.”
On this episode of VandyVox, we’re sharing an excerpt from Belle and Becky’s “Puzzle Child Podcast.” The two students produced the audio by developing questions they wanted to address, then answering those questions and discussing their puzzle children on tape. The audio assignment helped them synthesize what they had learned over the course of their yearlong projects, and helped them to think critically about their teaching philosophies and practices.
To listen to the full “Puzzle Child Podcast,” visit Literacy Listening, a website set up by Justine Bruyère, who taught Belle and Becky last spring. Justine likes to have her students reflect on their literacy education work through audio. Self-reflection assignments can be valuable learning experiences for students. Framing such an assignment as a podcast is likely to help students engage more deeply in the reflection process, as they prepare for their recording session and work together to produce a reflection that’s meaningful and interesting.