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In guided reading, the teacher guides small groups of students in reading short, carefully chosen texts in order to build independence, fluency, comprehension skills, and problem-solving strategies. The teacher often begins by introducing the text and modeling a particular strategy. Then students read to themselves in quiet voices as the teacher listens in, noting strategies and obstacles, and cuing individual students as needed. Students then discuss content, and share problem-solving strategies. Guided-reading materials usually become increasingly challenging and are often read more than once. The teacher regularly observes and assesses students' changing needs, and adjusts groupings accordingly. Guided reading allows a teacher to provide different levels of support, depending on the needs of the students.
Family or home literacy encompasses the ways parents, children, and extended family members use literacy at home and in their community. Family literacy may be initiated purposefully by a parent or may occur spontaneously as parents and children go about the business of their daily lives. Family literacy activities may also reflect the ethnic, racial, or cultural heritage of the families involved. (Adapted from Morrow, Paratore, and Tracey. Family Literacy: New Perspectives, New Opportunities.)
In independent reading, students read books on their own, exploring different kinds of texts and applying new learning. Students should be able to read these books easily, without assistance. Students often choose their reading materials, but independent reading can be organized by leveled book baskets or recommendations from the teacher. Teachers confer individually with students during independent reading or model their own silent reading. Independent reading is sometimes called DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) or SSR (Sustained Silent Reading).
In independent writing, students write about literature or other topics on their own. In the video programs, students write and illustrate creative stories or journal entries on topics of their own choosing. Often followed by a time to share written work with a partner or with the whole class, independent writing allows students to be recognized as authors and to receive feedback.
In interactive writing, the teacher helps groups of students compose and write text together, usually on large chart paper. With guidance from the teacher, individual students take turns writing, as classmates offer ideas and suggestions. Students practice writing strategies and skills modeled by the teacher, including letter formation, phonemic awareness and phonics, and concepts about print. Interactive writing is sometimes called "sharing the pen."
A child's attempt at spelling a word using what they know about the English spelling system is referred to as invented or temporary spelling. Invented spelling allows emergent writers to explore written language and experiment with writing at a very early stage. Early writing is a valuable developmental indicator of the conventional spelling patterns and the sound/symbol relationships the child has internalized. It can be used to help the teacher's instruction. (Adapted from Harris, and Hodges. Literacy Dictionary, 128)
Children write daily in journals to document or explain their ideas and experiences, compose stories, describe events, and respond to reading. Children write in journals across the curriculum. Journal entries do not have to incorporate the writing process, but children may decide to expand on a journal entry during writing time.
Coined by Yetta Goodman (1985), kidwatching is an observational assessment of children's performance and responses to instruction throughout the school day. Anecdotal records or more structured teacher checklists document kidwatching. This focused observation provides teachers with authentic measures of children's performance as they engage in literacy and language.
Learning Centers/Work Stations
Learning centers and work stations are designated areas within the classroom where students explore activities and practice skills and strategies, in small groups or alone, while the teacher is working with other students. The teacher models each activity first and then invites children to explore the center. Through center routines, children learn to work independently and cooperatively while developing specific skills.
The mainstream group in a society is the group or groups of people, who largely control and hold power in that society. This group may also be referred to as the "language majority" or "dominant culture." People from different ethnic groups can participate in both the mainstream culture and in their ethnic or home culture at the same time. These people are regarded as "bicultural." Teachers' understanding of their students' home culture is important for planning and implementing effective instruction, especially for literacy learning. (Adapted from Au. Literacy Instruction in Multicultural Settings, 5-12.)
In relation to reading, Luis Moll and Norma Gonzalez (1994) formulated an instructional model in which teachers and students read and negotiated the meaning of written texts in light of the students' imagined worlds and funds of knowledge. The goal of the model was essentially for teachers and students to develop "mediated and literate relationships" as they explored knowledge funds through literacy. The composite term, "mediate and literate relationships" emphasizes several key features of how literacy development is understood and conducted. Mediated refers to the historical, cultural, and social context in which knowledge is constructed. Literate refers to mastering the tools of using and interpreting words. Relationship acknowledges the dialogical nature of learning. In an instructional model that calls for a mediated and literate relationship, the student and the teacher collaborate to uncover cultural knowledge funds. Dialogue and negotiation of meaning is key to the process. The student and teacher work together to find conventional ways to express cultural insights and idiosyncratic ways of using words. The result is a creative product whether illustrated, oral, or written that b ridges cultural and conventional learning. (Taken from Boyd-Batstone. Reading With a Hero: A Mediated and Literate Experience.)
Metacognition is the awareness individuals have of their own mental processes and the subsequent ability to monitor, regulate, and direct themselves to a desired end. Students demonstrate metacognition if they can articulate what strategies they used to read and understand a text. Metacognition helps readers monitor and control their comprehension on an ongoing basis and adjust their reading strategies to maximize comprehension. (Adapted from Harris and Hodges. The Literacy Dictionary, 128.) (See Self-Monitor.)
The mini-lesson is part of Writers' Workshop and provides a short (5- to 10- minute), structured lesson on a topic related to writing. Topics are selected by the teacher and based on student need or curricular areas. These topics address aspects of the writing process or procedures for independent Writing Workshop time.
Coined by Ken Goodman in the mid 1960s, a miscue is any departure from the text when reading orally. Use of miscue instead of "error" suggests that mistakes are not random, but occur when the reader tries to use different strategies to make sense of text, and emphasizes that not all errors are equal -- some errors represent more highly developed reading skills than others. Miscues can be analyzed to suggest what strategies the reader is using or lacking, and what kinds of additional instruction might be helpful. (See Miscue Analysis.)
Miscue analysis is a way of closely observing, recording, and analyzing oral reading behaviors to assess how the reader is using specific cuing strategies, like the use of syntax, semantic information, and graphophonics. The teacher uses a specific code to record actual reading. Miscue analysis is usually done with an unfamiliar, long text, followed by a taped retelling. Scoring and analysis is more complex than with a running record, and is usually done at a later time. While running records are most often used with beginning readers, miscue analysis can be used for more advanced readers.
Native language is the first language learned and spoken by individuals based on their culture, country, and/or family. Native language is often used interchangeably with "first language" or "home language." Children may be fluent speakers in their native language, but not necessarily literate in it. Literacy in one's native language often correlates with ease of second-language literacy development.
Onsets and Rimes
The onset is all of the letters up to the vowel; the rime is the vowel and everything after it (until the next vowel).
Most words and many syllables can be separated into onsets (the initial consonant sound such as /c/ in cat) and rimes or phonograms (the vowel and letters which follow, such as /-at/). Whole words can be separated into onsets and rimes, such as /f/ /-or/, as can syllables, such as /tr/ /-ans/ /f/ /-orm/. Some words and syllables have only rimes, such as /on/ or /-ing/.
Opportunistic instruction can arise while students are engaged in literacy activities. It is not planned but, rather, supports individual students' needs as observed by the teacher, while children are reading and writing. Effective teachers create a balance of explicit and opportunistic instruction during the course of a day. Opportunistic instruction often follows explicit instruction to provide individual support and scaffolding of student learning.
A fundamental element of literacy is the development of oral language. Teachers encourage students' language development through informal and guided conversation, by asking questions and providing opportunities for students to explain their learning or thinking. Teachers model and discuss vocabulary and formal English grammar while reading, writing, or sharing experiences, without correcting or evaluating students' speech patterns.
Peer dyads are a grouping option when two children work together to support each other as they read and respond to text. Teachers pair students based on their literacy strengths and needs, the nature of the task, and how they work with others. Children may work with a partner to read or reread a text, write in response to reading, make predictions, discuss a story after reading, or research a topic. Students working in peer dyads may have similar strengths and needs; or one student may be stronger than the other to provide peer support.
Phonemic awareness is one small part of phonological awareness. Spoken words are made up of individual sounds (phonemes) that can be heard and manipulated. For example, the word for has three phonemes, help has four; cane has three phonemes, as does same or make. Phonemic awareness activities include listening for, counting, and identifying distinct sounds (not letter names); hearing, matching, adding, chopping off, or rearranging sounds; and separating or blending sounds to make words. Phonemic awareness can be taught explicitly or indirectly through games, manipulative activities, chanting, and reading and singing songs and poems.
Sometimes referred to as sound/symbol connections, or graphophonics, phonics is the understanding of how letters or spelling patterns (graphemes) represent sounds of speech (phonemes). It involves awareness of the sounds of individual letters or letter combinations. Phonics requires the understanding that sounds can be blended to make a word, and a mastery of some rules about certain sound patterns. Phonics can be taught in many ways. All learners do not require the same amount or sequence of phonics instruction. Phonics should be balanced with instruction on language and meaning. A student may be able to sound out a word, but not understand its meaning. In order to read with accuracy and understanding, words to be read must be part of a student's oral language.
Developing literacy requires an awareness that the spoken language can be taken apart in many different ways: sentences broken into words, words divided into syllables (sis/ter), and syllables divided into smaller, individual sounds (phonemes) such as /c/ /a/ /t/. Words can also be separated into onsets and rimes /c/ /at/. Phonological awareness includes knowledge of rhyming, alliteration (hearing similarity of sounds, as in "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers"), and intonation.
Portfolio assessment is the collection and interpretation of evidence of student learning including both the processes and the products of learning (Johnston, 1992). Evidence for the portfolio is gathered over time to provide a more complete picture of a child's literacy development. Contents of a portfolio could include sample running records, pages from writing journals, written responses to reading, story retelling forms, spelling tests, reading record logs, and student self-assessments. A new portfolio can be constructed each year, or a summary, or "showcase" portfolio can follow students from year to year. Teachers and students may collaborate to select pieces for the portfolio. They are especially useful in parent-teacher conferences to show a child's progress over time.
In read-aloud, the teacher reads to the whole class, building on students' existing skills while introducing different types of literature and new concepts. Read-aloud models fluent and expressive reading, develops comprehension and critical thinking strategies -- including the ability to make connections, visualize stories, and formulate questions -- and builds listening skills. A read-aloud can be conducted without interruption, or the teacher can pause to ask questions and make observations.
Responsive instruction describes small-group or individual instruction that promotes students' comprehension and response to text. Teachers work with students before, during, and after reading to discuss student connections and responses to the text. During the discussion, teachers provide prompts and support to help students effectively construct meaning from their reading.
A rubric is a criterion-based scoring guide that uses a descriptive scale to assess student performance. Rubrics can be teacher-made or purchased; they are used as a tool to assess student performance on specific assignments or projects. Rubrics often list specific descriptors for an assignment with an assigned value or a list of characteristics for each descriptor. Rubrics can provide students with a clear understanding of what is expected and allow teachers to systematically review student work with explicit criteria.
A Running Record (RR) is a method for closely observing and assessing a student's oral reading of a complete story or book, or 150-300 words excerpted from a longer text. Running Records can be taken spontaneously without advance preparation, using whatever text the student happens to be reading; or they can be taken using a photocopy of a prepared text. Running Records differ from miscue analysis because they are simpler to use on a day-to-day basis in the classroom.
Running Records can be used to assess familiar text for accuracy and fluency. They may also be used with new texts to see how the student applies reading strategies. Running records may be taken weekly or monthly to document growth over time, or periodically (two or three times a year) as part of an assessment profile to place students in reading groups or to document progress along specific benchmarks.
To take a running record, the teacher sits close enough to see the text as the student reads aloud and uses a special code to mark the precise reading response. Without comment, the teacher marks a check for each word read accurately and notes any substitutions, omissions, additions, and self-corrections. This process usually takes about 10 minutes, but it may take less time with an emergent reader.
At the end of the reading, the teacher quickly totals the number of miscues and self-corrections, then calculates the rate of reading accuracy and self-correction. The calculation helps the teacher determine whether reading material is at an appropriate level and what subsequent texts might be chosen. The teacher can also analyze the types of miscues made on the RR to understand what reading strategies the child uses and what kinds of additional instruction might be helpful.
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