Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Gallas, K. (1994). The languages of learning: How children talk, write, dance, draw, and sing their understanding of the world. New York: Teachers College Press.

First-grade teacher and researcher, Karen Gallas watches children, collects their artwork and notes, listens to their conversations, and talks with them. In this book, she uses narrative to explore how young children communicate their knowledge of the world and the ways in which that understanding can transform teaching practice. Narrative, for Gallas, includes all forms of communication, so the book includes children's art as an important part of the stories she tells of children learning. Through these stories, she shows how children can be encouraged to interpret language freely and use that potential to expand and develop as learners. She tells stories of a homeless child, of an immigrant child, and of a typical bad boy. In each, the focus is on the particular child and that child's learning, and on the understandings that emerge from relationships within a classroom. She tells stories about learning science, about how children talked and wrote about science, and about the complexities of the language and the stories they used to understand the world of science. She tells stories about art as a means of enabling children to think about new knowledge in more complex and meaningful ways. And finally, woven through the book is the story of a teacher-researcher. She concludes by offering four aspects of the languages of learning that must be paid attention to in order to best serve children: valuing silence, using language self-consciously, contextualizing language, and exploring multiple texts.

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