The Knewton Blog

Our monthly newsletter features edtech and product updates, with a healthy dose of fun Knerd news.

Teacher Feature: Jessica Redcay on the Future of English Language Arts Instruction

Posted in Teacher Feature on November 3, 2014 by

At Knewton, we have a lot to learn from teachers. Our goal is to create technology that helps them create more effective lessons and help teachers better support students. We’re always interested in hearing about teachers’ perspectives on the future of education and educational technology. Below we’re sharing some recent insights we’ve heard from teachers across the country.

Dr. Redcay3

Teacher: Jessica Redcay

Location: Lancaster, PA

Subject: English Language Arts

1.     Describe elements of your dream classroom or school.

My ideal classroom would be student-centered. Students would learn the required material, but the instruction would be differentiated to meet students’ needs, interests, and learning preferences. Innovative teaching strategies would be used to integrate research-based, play-based, and technology-based instruction. Students would be actively constructing their learning as they would speak, listen, read, and write. Students would learn the content, and they would also enjoy the process of learning.

2. Why do you teach?

I always wanted to emulate the teachers who inspired me. My older brother never enjoyed school like I did. I was always interested in how the teachers inspired learners who enjoyed learning, and more importantly, how the teachers inspired reluctant learners. I believe that every student can be successful in school; however, we have to find the best method to help them be successful.

3. What are your thoughts about the future of English language arts instruction in the age of digital learning?

Students need to learn how to communicate and develop listening, speaking, reading, writing, and e-communicating skillsets. The internet has helped learning occur anywhere and at anytime; however, we have to teach students how to best use these tools to receive and share information. Students now have access to e-books with embedded video-clips. Students can create and respond to literature in new ways by podcasting and creating e-skits or e-picture-collages. However, students have to continue to learn how to be critical consumers of knowledge. Additionally, students need to continue to learn about traditional forms of reading and writing. Students need to be exposed to multiple forms of communication and sharing.

4. What is your favorite book to teach? And why?

This is a challenging question for me because I have a lot of favorite books. I teach my students that we can learn a lesson from every book that we read. In kindergarten, my favorite book to teach from was entitled: “Pete The Cat.” The book elicits student participation as they sing along to a repetitive song. Also, the book teaches a great lesson that no matter what happens you should just keep moving along. I love to teach the students the importance of trying your best.

My favorite book series to read with my students in second grade is “Puppy Place.” The students learn about how the author is able to help the reader visualize the characters by using vivid descriptions. The students love reading about the different puppies that stay with a foster family as they try to find them a forever home. Many of my students love animals, and then we also enjoy reading the “Kitty Corner” series. This leads into an extension writing activity as students create their own books that could be a part of these series. Whenever I read aloud a book from a series it soon becomes the most popular and read book in the classroom.

5. What’s the most important thing to teach students today?

I love to read and write, and I share this passion with my students. I want my students to learn how to read and comprehend texts, but more importantly I want them to leave my classroom enjoying reading and writing. I expose my students to many different integrated topics, authors, series, and genres. When students leave my classroom I want them to know that learning is an ongoing quest for knowledge. I also want my students to know that they have a voice to share, and what they have to say is important.

Dr. Jessica D. Redcay has been teaching for nine years for the Hempfield School District in Pennsylvania. She has experience teaching kindergarten and second grade. She is a certified early childhood and elementary school teacher. Additionally, Dr. Redcay is a certified reading specialist. This past summer she completed her doctorate of education in educational leadership with a specialization in curriculum and instruction. She created new technology and play-based strategies to teach students to learn how to read- she coined the set of strategies as Ludus Reading. Ludus is a Latin word that means play. Her dissertation involved examining the effectiveness of this new program in improving kindergarten students reading performance and perceptions. Further, the students’ reading performance were tracked into the proceeding school year. The results demonstrated that the students reading performance and perceptions of reading increased with the use of these technology and play-based strategies. Dr. Redcay is continuing to test the effectiveness of implementing research-based and practical strategies to help students to learn how to read in the primary grades.