A life-long learning process : using literature to guide children's knowledge and teachers' professional development : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)

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Waeber, Jennifer L.
Martin, Linda E.
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Thesis (B.?.)
Honors College
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As society continues to advance in the demands of knowledge and skills, so must the education of students in the classroom move towards more meaningful instruction in order to meet the educational needs of children. One successfully proven approach is for teachers to create classrooms that help children to gain experiences and make connections to the real world, which can be done by using literature throughout their learning experiences.Although the concept of using literature across the curriculum is not a new idea, it is one that has proven to be difficult to fully incorporate into the classroom. However difficult, the long-term benefits of using literature in all aspects of learning are found to be essential to a student's development, with such benefits being increased skill, knowledge, experience and insight. (Jacobs & Tunnell, 1996, p. 5) Using literature throughout the day's curriculum contributes to the skills and knowledge that are gained and practiced by incorporating a variety of genre throughout the school day. (Aiex, 1990) For example, in teaching Indiana history, a textbook merely provides the students with isolated bits of information, while supplementing the textbook with literature not only adds depth to the students' knowledge, but also broadens their perspectives and experiences by gaining insight into the lives of people who have lived in Indiana. In addition, literature provides students with a broadened perspective of the world and builds understanding and empathy for situations that would otherwise be unrelated. (Kiefer, 2004, p. 8)My thesis will begin with a timeline of the history of literature in America, starting with basic concepts of textbooks and literature and their importance in education and concluding with the modern philosophies of the impacts of literature on the entire learning experience. Next I will include my resource of collected literature to be used across the curriculum and across grades in elementary school classrooms. Also, I will include a unit plan focused around literature. The unit plan was piloted in a fourth grade classroom and includes reflections and adaptations. The collection of literature organized by grades will be an open resource, not to be completed and put on a shelf, but rather, to be continually added to and used in the classroom for the duration of my career. The purpose of this Honors Thesis is to bring meaningful instruction to the classroom through guiding children to use literature in all aspects of learning. Expanding my knowledge on this subject will be a fundamental part of my life-long professional growth.Honors College Ball State UniversityMuncie, IN 47306