USF graduate students teach the basics of reading and writing
At Carrollwood Day School, students teaching students is a common occurrence –seventh graders help second graders with their geography skills; second graders share keynote presentations with kindergartners; prekindergartners teach nursery students and toddlers about coding robots. Recently, this cooperative learning experience went a step farther, as USF creative writing graduate students headed back to school to see if the book was right and “all they ever really needed to know they learned in kindergarten.”
The students are enrolled in the graduate course, “Developing an Arts-Based Pedagogy,” taught by CDS parent Dr. Jarod Rosello. Dr. Rosello challenged the students – all creative writers of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction – to design a literacy-based lesson for kindergartners.
“I wanted my graduate students to work with kindergartners so they could see what literacy looks like at one of its earliest stages,” explains Dr. Rosello. “By the time we’ve gotten to college, many of us have forgotten the ways literacy is a complex, entangled human act, not just a set of competencies and skills.“
Nine graduate students divided themselves into three groups, one group per kindergarten classroom. One group in Ms. Knoke’s class used stickers to teach the narrative structure, with the kindergartners choosing stickers to represent different aspects of a narrative (character, setting, rising action, climax, etc.); they then structured their stories. The second group in Ms. Krig’s class used alliteration to teach poetry, as kindergartners focused on particular letters and sounds, writing down words of things they liked that included that sound. Their words were then collaged together into sentences, and all the sentences were put together to form a poem. The final group in Mrs. Piazza’s class used drawing to explore character development; kindergartners were asked to think of someone who was different from them and to draw that character, then to think of different attributes, characteristics or interests that character might have.
By the end of the morning, a new generation of storytellers had been born!