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This may involve group discussion, drawing or writing activities, and shared rereading with the teacher.
After the children are familiar with the text, the teacher guides them to look at specific features of certain words and to note how the words look and sound. In this case, the letter s would be featured and children would be guided to note how words starting with the letter s look and sound at the beginning. This would lead to a variety of activities focusing on the letter s.
Finally, the students return to reading and writing with whole text to apply what they have learned.
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These lessons are meant to go well beyond the teaching and learning of a single sound-letter correspondence. The teacher is also striving to help the children understand the alphabetic principle and its application to reading and writing. The approach also emphasizes helping children become independent, self-improving learners. Dorothy Fowler's article "Balanced Reading Instruction in Practice" describes in greater detail instructional activities that a 1st grade teacher uses with her students in a typical language arts block of time, and Figure 1 shows the process.
Start with whole text. Grounding instruction in whole texts provides the basis for meaningful literacy activities. Examples include the shared reading of poems or stories using big books or charts. An active demonstration of the teacher's own composing and spelling processes is extremely powerful, as he or she models at the chalkboard, thinking aloud about what word will come next or how a word is spelled.
Focus on knowledge about the parts of language that may be useful for reading and writing.
Responding to all texts only at the holistic level is not enough. Instruction should include a planned, systematic effort to highlight specific textual features and literary devices as a variety of materials are read, written, and discussed over time.
Highlighting specific textual features helps children form generalizations about language that they can apply to their own independent efforts to read and write. Return to whole texts for application and practice. Planned opportunities to apply what has been learned about the parts of language allow students to move from simply knowing about a generalization to using that knowledge in a purposeful way. This also acknowledges the fact that isolated language elements behave differently depending on context. For example, the letter s behaves differently when paired with t as opposed to h.
Words such as lead or wind not only mean different things in different contexts, they may be pronounced differently. Effective beginning readers use word meaning and sentence structure, along with sound-letter relationships, to approach unknown words.
Moving from whole to part and back to whole again thus provides a framework for planning that addresses skills in a manner that is meaningful, strategic, and more characteristic of the way proficient readers actually use skills when they read and write. Although the focus here is on beginning reading, the whole-part-whole framework can be used to teach any skill.
Figure 1. Source: Strickland, D. Until recently, no aspect of reading instruction was more discussed, more hotly debated, and less understood than phonics and its role in learning to read. For better or worse, the topic of phonemic awareness is currently running a close second. While phonics refers to instruction in the sound-letter relationships used in reading and writing, phonemic awareness refers to a child's understanding that speech itself is composed of a series of individual sounds.
Children who are phonologically aware can discriminate between and manipulate sounds in words and syllables in speech. They know when words rhyme or do not rhyme.
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Most important, these children can shift their attention away from the content of speech to focus on the form of speech before they return to its meaning. Although the role of phonemic awareness in children's literacy development is still not completely clear, most researchers agree that "training in phonological awareness is both possible and advantageous for children" Ayres , p.
Questions remain, however, about how much phonemic awareness is a necessary prerequisite to developing ability in decoding and how much is acquired in a reciprocal, mutually supportive relationship with learning to read Perfetti et al. The debates about phonics and phonemic awareness have less to do with their value than with the amount and type of instruction they require. The controversy generally pits systematic, intensive instruction against holistically oriented approaches.
Briefly stated, those promoting systematic, intensive phonics advocate an emphasis on phonics that is highly sequenced, skills- or code-driven, and initiated early in the child's schooling. Children begin by learning about the parts of words and build toward whole words. The approach stresses correct identification and automaticity of response. Much of the research cited to support this view comes from experimental studies where children's demonstration of performance is based on the results of standardized tests Chall , Adams Holistically oriented approaches include philosophies and practices frequently associated with terms such as whole language, integrated language arts , and literature-based curriculum.
In operation, these terms share certain characteristics; however, they are not synonymous. Although virtually all holistically oriented teaching includes to some extent such elements as greater emphasis on writing and its relationship to reading, greater use of trade books, increased attention to the integration of the language arts, and greater reliance on informal classroom assessment, teachers vary in their implementation of and adherence to various philosophies.
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