Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Reading: K-2  Lens on Literacy

Lens on Literacy

Essential Components

Teaching Practices

Classroom Environment

Other Terms

General Resources

Other Important Terms

Concepts About Print
Coined by New Zealand educator Marie Clay, concepts about print (CAP) refers to what emergent readers need to understand about how printed language works and how it represents language. Successful beginning readers develop concepts about print at an early age, building on emergent literacy that starts before formal schooling.

  • Print carries a message. Even when a child "play reads" text using pictures and memory, the child demonstrates an understanding of this concept, even if she cannot read the words, or reads them backwards or front to back.
  • Books are organized, with a cover, title, and author, and reading in English flows in a particular and consistent direction, left to right and top to bottom. When young students successfully point to or otherwise track the print as someone reads aloud, they demonstrate their understanding of orientation and directionality.
  • Printed language consists of letters, words, and sentences. The emergent reader gradually learns to distinguish between these forms, learns the concepts of "beginning" and "end," and understands punctuation that marks text (e.g., period, comma, and question mark).
  • Recognition of matching or upper- and lower-case letters, as well as some common spelling sequences, are slightly more complex concepts of print mastered by more experienced beginning readers.

Concepts about print can be taught using shared reading of Big Books, enlarged charts and poems, or other kinds of engaging texts. It can also be taught through interactive writing, language experience dictations, or exploring print in the classroom environment.

Many teachers use Clay's Concepts About Print assessment tool in late kindergarten or beginning first grade to assess students' concepts about print.

Cuing Strategies
Used by effective readers to figure out unfamiliar words and to make meaning, cuing strategies include knowledge of syntax, semantics, words and word meaning, and graphophonics (letter/sound associations). Teachers can guide students to use cuing strategies by reminding them to ask themselves, "Did it sound right? Did it make sense? Did the word look right?"

English Language Learner
An English language learner (ELL) is a student who speaks one or more languages other than English and who is just developing proficiency in English. In this video library, both dual language learning and careful scaffolding of literacy experiences in English enhance ELL students' learning of oral and written English.

Invented (or Temporary) Spelling
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 Literacy Dictionary, p. 128)

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. A student demonstrates metacognition if she can articulate what strategies she 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 The Literacy Dictionary, p. 128) (See Self-Monitor.)

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
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.

Onset and Rime
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/".

Print-Rich Environment
A print-rich environment refers to classroom displays of written language -- both teacher-made, student-generated, and published materials -- like books, charts, students' work journals, and stories. A print rich-environment helps students acquire concepts about print as they learn how print is used. Students can "read the room." For example, the calendar, lunch menu, list of classroom jobs, or the morning message all emphasize that print carries meaning. Students can refer to print displays to help their reading and spelling. (Adapted from Ready for RICA, pp. 27-28)

Running Record
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 on the fly 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. Or they may 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.

Students self-monitor when they pay attention to their own work to make sure that it is clear and makes sense. During reading, students attend to meaning and use fix-up strategies such as re-reading or reading ahead to clarify meaning. During writing, students check and reflect on the clarity of the message and on the features of text (words, grammar, and conventions) they need to communicate effectively with an audience. In this video library, students self-monitor during interactive writing when they discuss and analyze their writing, and during independent writing when they check for meaning and grammar. Students also self-monitor during shared and guided reading when they think aloud to share their understanding of a text with the teacher or with other students. Self-monitoring is an aspect of metacognition. (Adapted from The Literacy Dictionary, p. 229)

Word Walls
A word wall is made up of carefully selected and displayed lists or groups of words used by students to build familiarity with common sight words. They serve as visual scaffolds, provide students with familiar word patterns to assist them in decoding unfamiliar words, and are useful when students write. Word walls do the following:

  • build word recognition;
  • facilitate word analysis;
  • serve as a reference for commonly misspelled words; and
  • build vocabulary for a new text or content area.

Word walls are used by students and teachers to see and monitor what has been taught and learned. They are used for planned instruction and as a resource for unplanned instructional opportunities, or "teachable moments," that arise unexpectedly during the day. (Adapted from Brabham, E. G., and S. K. Villaume. "Building Walls of Words." Reading Teacher 54 no. 7 (April 2001): 700-702.

For further reference

Armbruster, B. B., F. Lehr, and J. Osborn. Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children To Read. Jessup, Md: National Institute for Literacy, 2001.

Harris, T. L., and R. E. Hodges. eds. The Literacy Dictionary. Newark, Del.: International Reading Association, 1995.

Vacca, J. L., R. T. Vacca, and M. K. Gove. Reading and Learning To Read. 4th Ed. Boston, Mass.: Addison Wesley, 2000.

Zarillo, J. J. Ready for RICA: A Test Preparation Guide for California's Reading Instruction Competence Assessment. Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 2002.

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