The Reading Program

Instructional Guidance/Support

Instructional Components

Phonemic awareness
Letter Names/Shapes
Systematic, Explicit Phonics
Vocabulary Development
Comprehension and Higher - Order Thinking
Appropriate Instructional Materials

Grade level Expectations and Classroom Practices

Diagnostic Tools


Importance of Standards

Professional Development

Program Development


Reading Task Force Report

Early Literacy Training

Early Literacy Training Resources Directory

Training Materials


A Balanced, Comprehensive Approach to Teaching Reading K-3

I. The Reading Program (From Research to Practice)

Essential components of a balanced and comprehensive Reading program are:

  • a strong literature, language and comprehension program (including oral and written language)

  • an organized, explicit skills program
  • ongoing diagnosis
  • a powerful early intervention program

  • A. Instructional Components

  • Phonemic awareness - understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds

  • can be fostered through language activities that encourage active exploration and manipulation of sounds

  • highly related to learning to read
  • lack of phonemic awareness is the most powerful determinant of likelihood of failure to learn to read
  • most important factor separating normal and disabled readers
  • equally important to learning to spell
  • research indicates that all young readers benefit from explicit assistance
  • children should be diagnosed in mid-kindergarten and give intensive training if progress is not adequate
  • support should occur in pre-k, k and grade 1

  • Letter Names/Shapes

  • powerful predictors of early reading success

  • knowledge of letter names is important

  • Systematic, Explicit Phonics

  • an organized program where letter - sound correspondences for letters and letter clusters are directly taught using text with a high percentage of decodable words (prompt and explicit feedback provided)

  • to become skillful readers, children must learn how to decode instantly and effortlessly
  • research reveals that only poor readers rely on context for word identification
  • poorly developed knowledge of spelling is found to be the most frequent cause of reading difficulty
  • the role of effective phonics instruction is to help children understand, apply and learn the alphabetic principle and conventions of written language (It is NOT rote drill)
  • effective phonics instruction is:

    explicit - clarifies key points and principles for students
    systematic - gradually builds from basic elements to complex patterns

  • it is important to practice the phonics learned (use decodable text)
  • after children demonstrate initial levels of phonemic awareness, both phonemic awareness and phonics can be taught simultaneously and reinforced in the context of integrated, shared reading and writing activities

  • Spelling- goal is to alert children to patterns, to how words are combined, and to conventions and correctness
  • poorly developed spelling knowledge hinders writing, disrupts reading fluency and obstructs vocabulary development

  • programmatic instruction in correct spelling should begin in grade one and continue across school years
  • temporary spellings are invaluable to diagnosis of difficulties and evaluation of progress
  • research demonstrates that combining ample early support of temporary spelling with systematic, formal spelling instruction results in more rapid growth in correct spelling than either approach alone
  • spelling lists and quizzes should be purposeful and support/reinforce reading and writing instruction

  • Vocabulary Development
  • the number of new words learned from text depends on how much they read (the 90th % fifth grader reads 200 time more text per year than the 10th % fifth grader)

  • vocabulary instruction is most effective when explicit information about words' definition is complemented by attention to usage and meaning across context

  • Comprehension and Higher - Order Thinking
  • effortless, accurate readers construct meaning at two levels (literal and reflective understandings)

  • reflective control of text can be improved through direct instruction in comprehension strategies using a range of literacy genres
  • the most valuable activity for developing reading comprehension is reading itself
  • amount of reading predicts growth in comprehension
  • students should be given many opportunities for open discussion of both highlights and difficulties of text

  • Appropriate Instructional Materials
  • a balanced comprehensive early literacy program must provide a variety of reading materials

  • goal of all reading sessions is to support interest and capacity for independent reading
  • mode in which materials are read . . . (read-aloud, instructional reading, independent reading)
  • reading aloud to students is important at every age
  • use of big books at pre-school and K levels
  • English learners can be most successful learning to read what they can already say and understand
  • research strongly asserts that from the beginning of first grade and in tandem with basic phonics instruction, decodable texts are most appropriate for independent reading
  • teachers need to be aware of difficulty level of text relative to students' reading level

  • #independent level - 95% - 100% accuracy
  • #instructional level - 90 - 94%
  • #frustration level - 89% or below

  • an effective program establishes time and expectation for independent reading
  • all students should be required to read every day outside of school

  • B. Grade level Expectations and Classroom Practices

  • A powerful reading program requires planning to ensure appropriate progression across the grade spans
  • to meet individual needs of all learners, each classroom should provide a balance of grouping types. (whole, small, pairs, etc.)
  • all teachers must understand the importance of flexible groupings in the teaching of reading. (They should be skill based and temporary)
  • document provides pre-K - 3 expectations and examples of learning activities

  • C. Diagnostic Tools

  • provide every teacher with a variety of assessment tools/strategies to inform daily instruction
  • assess student:

  • skills by use of a list beginning with single letters and progressing to words ordered in complexity
  • fluency/comprehension by use of text ordered in complexity

  • assess students 3 or 4 times/year in grades K-2 . . . adjust frequency depending on progress
  • diagnosis provides ways to collect and use information for classroom instruction and decisions about needed early interventions

  • D. Interventions

  • Early intervention in reading begins in first grade

  • in-class interventions (one-on-one, small group, more frequent diagnostic information, guided reading, tutorial assistance)

  • outside of class intervention (SST, specialists, categorical programs, summer/intersessions)
  • most effective interventions:
  • are applied as early as possible

  • involve well trained specialists
  • are more intense and concentrated for a short span of time
  • proven in effectivenessbefore reading problems are referred to special education , in-class and out-of-class intervention should be utilized

  • II. Instructional Guidance/Support

    A. Importance of Standards

  • State and National call for improved results, high standards and clear accountability
  • AB265 - statewide standards and assessment by January 1, 1998
  • districts adopting grade-level content and performance standards in R.W.S.L. with the goal of every student an independent reader by end of third grade
  • local system to track performance
  • ongoing teacher support and training

  • B. Professional Development (research based, successful practices)

  • should occur every year in content areas and in beginning reading as a foundation for learning
  • workshops coupled with in-classroom coaching experiences
  • topics should include phonemic awareness; systematic, explicit phonics; beginning writing; spelling; and comprehension/higher order thinking skills
  • teachers should understand components of a balanced, comprehensive reading program
  • effective professional development includes:
  • collaborative planning
  • long-term, in-depth activities
  • a variety of strategies
  • opportunities to reflect
  • discussions of research findings

  • C. Program Development

  • 2 or 3 year design for full implementation will be most successful
  • collaboratively planned
  • supported with appropriate materials and training
  • redirection of available funds must occur to support improvement efforts

  • D. Conclusion

  • program advisory provides structure, organization and direction to develop a balanced and comprehensive reading program
  • all components of the reading program must be centered in use of effective practices and appropriate support for implementation
  • teachers must be effective
  • parents and community must be a part of the effort

    Click Here for the Reading Task Force Report