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 Workshop.

Word Study and Fluency: Examine the Topic

Examine the Topic

Consider Other Points of View

In this section, you will expand your understanding of word study by comparing the ideas from the workshop video with passages from various publications. Read and respond to the ideas presented as they relate to your own teaching practices.


Phonics skills are an essential component of early literacy instruction. The controversies surrounding phonics instruction are not whether we should teach phonics but how to teach phonics. Read the following quote from Dr. Paratore and part of the International Reading Association's position statement on phonics.

For me it's...a given that teachers need to have a shared scope and sequence of some sort. I want some sense that there is, indeed, a shared curriculum... Now, having said that, there are differences in children. It doesn't mean that I offer the same lesson to every child. But it does mean that I have some way of knowing who needs what and I offer that.

Jeanne R. Paratore, Boston University

Teaching phonics, like all teaching, involves making decisions about what is best for children. Rather than engage in debates about whether phonics should or should not be taught, effective teachers of reading and writing ask when, how, how much, and under what circumstances phonics should be taught. Programs that constrain teachers from using their professional judgment in making instructional decisions about what is best in phonics instruction for students simply get in the way of good teaching practices... When phonics instruction is linked to children's reading and writing, they are more likely to become strategic and independent in their use of phonics than when phonics instruction is drilled and practiced in isolation.

The Role of Phonics in Reading Instruction: A Position Statement of the International Reading Association (1998) www.reading.org

How do the above quote and passage reflect the role of the teacher, student, text, and word study curriculum in phonics instruction? Now, think about these same factors when reading the next passage from Put Reading First. Does a prescribed scope and sequence change these roles? How?

Systematic and explicit phonics instruction makes a bigger contribution to children's growth in reading than instruction that provides non-systematic or no phonics instruction. How do systematic programs of phonics instruction differ from non-systematic programs? The hallmark of programs of systematic phonics instruction is the direct teaching of a set of letter-sound relationships in a clearly defined sequence. The set includes the major sound-symbol relationships of both consonants and vowels... The programs also provide materials that give children substantial practice in applying knowledge of these relationships as they read and write. These materials include books or stories that contain a large number of words that children can decode by using the letter-sound relationships they have learned and are learning.

Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA). Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children To Read, 13. Jessup, Md.: National Institute for Literacy at ED Pubs, 2001. www.nifl.gov

Think about Dr. Paratore's statement and the passages from publications on planning and implementing phonics instruction. Consider these questions:

  • What are the common ideas expressed in Dr. Paratore's statement and the two reading selections from the written publications?
  • How do the ideas presented in each differ?
  • How do the classroom excerpts reflect these statements?
  • What do you think? Which statement most closely reflects your understanding and/or teaching of phonics?

Submit your written responses.


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