How HighScope Teaches Reading in Kindergarten Through Third Grade (page 5)
No educational achievement is of greater concern to parents, children, and the general public than a child's learning to read and write. Literacy is the key that opens the doors to further study, academic success, choices in the job market, and the personal fulfillment that comes from reading for information and for pleasure. Some elements of literacy development require instruction in specific concepts and skills, such as phonemes, letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns, and letter formation. Other aspects of literacy development are acquired through innumerable repetitions of the literacy acts themselves-reading literature in a variety of genres and styles, reading for information and enjoyment, writing to convey information or as an act of creative expression, and carrying on a communicative dialogue with others.
The importance of reading and writing in grades K-3
The literacy strategies employed in the High/Scope K-3 approach and described in this paper are based on the most recent research findings and the practical experiences of High/Scope teachers. These strategies are part of the High/Scope teaching and learning framework-a comprehensive approach to all aspects of curriculum, instruction, assessment, classroom management, staff development, supervision, and program operation that has a substantial history of success with diverse populations of students and teachers in the U.S. and abroad.
While approaches to elementary education vary in style and emphasis, most effective models subscribe to similar principles of reading and writing instruction. Most are successful, to some degree, in helping the majority of children learn to read. Many children, however, fall through the cracks and perform below other children their age in reading and writing. These children often (though not necessarily always) come from family backgrounds that did not provide them-as infants, toddlers, or preschoolers-with the kinds of early language and literacy experiences that many of their more reading-advantaged peers benefited from (see other position papers).
These "at-risk" children usually begin elementary school without thousands of hours of storybooks read to them, without extensive experience with the printed word, without the range and depth of oral English language experience their more advantaged peers have had. If these same children have grown up in homes where English is the second language, they may have missed hearing many of the sounds of English in their early years. These at-risk children are not and will not be ready to effectively benefit from even well-developed elementary-level reading instruction until they progress through the pre-reading, emergent-reading, and developing-reading levels on their way toward fluency. Effective reading instruction for these children must meet them where they are and guide them through the early literacy levels to construct adequate foundations for subsequent learning. Engaging these children in reading experiences appropriate to their current levels of literacy is the best approach to closing the gap between their skills and those of their more reading-advantaged peers.
For the early elementary students with the lowest performance this means going back to strategies outlined in the infant-toddler and preschool position papers-back to experiencing word sounds, hearing stories, exploring picture books, and developing book and print knowledge with simple texts (geared to the interests of older children). Teachers must find the reading level that works for each child and build from there. Even in second or third grade and beyond, effective reading instruction must start at the child's current reading level, building from the top of that level toward the next.
Although not seen as a compensatory model, the High/Scope approach has proven effective with "at-risk" pupil populations as well as with the general population. It is not a magic remedy that overcomes serious deficiencies in a few teacher-proof lessons; in fact, no instructional method can guarantee quick or simple success for all students. However, High/Scope is a tried, tested, and complete method that teachers and schools can use effectively to help all children, including those at risk, learn to enjoy, value, and benefit from schooling. The High/Scope method can and does teach students to read, write, and in general, become productive and well-adjusted citizens.
How children in High/Scope K-3 classrooms learn to read and write
High/Scope's elementary program uses a comprehensive approach to literacy development. This approach balances skill and vocabulary development with rich literacy experiences that incorporate children's interests and initiatives; it also emphasizes children's active involvement in the learning process. Teachers in High/Scope elementary classrooms teach reading by organizing and providing daily experiences in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, using the High/Scope elementary key experiences in language and literacy to guide them.
Throughout the day, children use oral language to communicate plans and personal experiences to peers and adults. They also participate regularly in singing, dramatic presentations, and oral readings of poetry and prose. By second and third grade, children regularly contribute to group discussions. They are also encouraged to articulate points of view on a topic and to offer support for their views based on evidence and multi-step reasoning.
Listening.Children listen to stories, poems, and expository text read aloud to them by adults and peers. They demonstrate oral comprehension by predicting story events, asking and answering questions about texts they've listened to, retelling stories, and relating story events to their own experiences. Children listen actively to peers and adults by asking relevant questions and by making connections to their own ideas and experiences.
Phonological awareness.Children identify and create rhymes; find words (in pictures and print) with the same beginning, ending, and middle sounds; and separate and blend word sounds (syllables and phonemes). Children also engage in word play by making rhymes and playing word games (e.g., "Sounds like pan but begins with /f/").
Phonics.Using grade-appropriate knowledge of letter-sound relationships, children sound out regularly spelled, unfamiliar words in text and when writing. They focus first on one-syllable words, such as cat and pen, with regular one-to-one letter-sound correspondences. As children's reading skills increase, they progress systematically to more complex patterns (such as blends, vowel combinations, and silent e's), to the letter patterns of multi-syllable words, and to suffixes, prefixes, and root words.
Developing vocabulary.Children learn to identify and read high-frequency, non-phonetic words by sorting and matching words, reading, being read to, and through shared and guided reading with a teacher. These words include those found on, for example, Dolch lists for each grade level. In the materials-rich environment of High/Scope classrooms, children are exposed to new vocabulary through reading and listening to a variety of texts, from names and labels of classroom materials, and from the full spectrum of sensory properties and experiences these materials and their daily use afford. Experiential referents give meaning to these words as they appear in the reading, writing, and speaking that children do when they plan, carry out, and reflect on their classroom activities during the daily plan-do-review process.
Reading books, books, and more books along with other printed material.
From a classroom or school library, children in the early elementary grades select and read 25 or more books per year at their own reading level. Children choose books on their favorite subjects and by familiar authors and are encouraged to broaden the content of their reading by choosing additional books based on their interests, those of their peers, and the recommendations of the teacher. If they haven't already done so in preschool or at home, they develop knowledge of how to handle books, turn successive pages, follow text from top to bottom and left to right on the page, and track words in print. They respond to what they have read by retelling and discussing the text with peers and adults, making predictions, representing stories in pictures, and relating stories to their own experiences.
Children engage in buddy reading, individual silent reading, and guided, small-group reading sessions with the teacher. As fluency increases, children read for information and enjoyment from books, magazines, and newspapers; follow written directions for projects and games; and use dictionaries to find word meanings. They analyze narrative texts for such elements as character, setting, problem, and resolution, and they identify similarities and differences across texts. When engaging in oral reading, they use inflection and phrasing, and they respond to punctuation.
Writing-running the reading processor in reverse.Children regularly write multiple, complete sentences to express and communicate their own experiences and creative thought. They use the phonics they are acquiring to spell out words they want to write, and they use invented spellings as needed to assure fluency and completeness of thought as they move steadily toward conventional spellings. The very act of writing makes them more conscious of letter sounds. Children learn letter formation, printing, and then cursive handwriting through teacher modeling and guidance in daily writing activities. They write stories, journals, reports, and books, and use different modes of writing, such as poetry, research reports, and essays. They also create messages, e-mail, letters, posters, lists, instructions, and other written communications in the context of diverse learning activities. Children read their own writing to peers and adults, and they are encouraged to display their writing in the classroom and to share it with parents. As fluency increases, they move through the complete process of writing-from prewriting to drafting, rewriting, editing, proofreading, and finally to publishing and reviewing selected works for the home, classroom, or school library.
Scientific evidence of High/Scope's impact on reading achievement
The High/Scope educational approach is based on scientifically conducted research studies. More than 3,000 school children in three different parts of the country were assessed over three years on such standardized tests as the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills, the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, and the California Achievement Tests (Schweinhart & Wallgren, 1993). Children in classrooms using the High/Scope approach significantly outscored comparable peers in non-High/Scope classrooms on standardized achievement tests. Based on these studies demonstrating the program's significant and positive impact on student achievement, the U.S. Department of Education's Program Effectiveness Panel (PEP) validated the High/Scope elementary curriculum in 1992; High/Scope was the first comprehensive model to receive such endorsement (Schweinhart, 1991). In a later study, children who had been in High/Scope K-3 classrooms had more positive attitudes toward reading and writing in fourth grade and initiated these activities more frequently than did comparison children who did not have a High/Scope experience (Hohmann, 1996). These evaluation results demonstrate that a High/Scope education gives children specific advantages in literacy.
How teachers promote reading and overall literacy in High/Scope classrooms
- Conduct large-group sessions (which may be called circle time, gathering, or story time) that include activities such as studying phonemes and words, identifying and creating rhymes, reading stories aloud, singing, and engaging in dramatic play and other productions. New concepts and skills are introduced, and previously introduced skills are briefly reviewed and practiced. For example, teachers may use a large-group setting to draw children's attention to the letter patterns for sound blends from a recent story they've heard, such as /br/ and /tr/. In the same session, children might practice these letter-sound patterns by thinking of additional words with these sounds to add to a word wall.
- Organize daily, small-group instructional workshops involving word study, writing, guided reading, and application or representation of text. Each small group involves a language arts or reading task assigned by the teacher. Small-group activities are planned around printed curriculum materials or teacher-designed activities based on language arts and reading standards. A language workshop, for example, might consist of four small-group stations: a guided reading from a trade or other graded storybook; a word- and picture-matching activity based on beginning, ending, or vowel sounds; buddy reading; and journal writing. The small groups rotate through all the stations until each group has completed all the activities planned. Alternatively, all the small groups can work on the same workshop activity at the same time, then all can change to the next planned activity, and so on.
- Read aloud daily to children, or have a child or other adult read to the class. Teachers also provide daily times for buddy reading, in which children read to a partner, or a period of sustained silent reading when children read a book from the class or school library that is of interest to them and is at their current reading level. Teachers use this time for one-on-one guided reading and for individual assessment of reading development.
- Use computers and computer-based learning materials, when available, to support reading and writing activities. Computer programs provide language- and reading-based activities for small-group workshops and for child-initiated activities. Programs offer multimedia games and creative activities that encourage practice with letters, letter sounds, rhymes, word recognition, and comprehension. Children also use computers in writing and publishing projects and in exchanging e-mail with teachers, friends, classes at other schools, and experts in various subjects being studied. High/Scope makes computer software recommendations to help teachers identify programs that provide user choice, link sight and sound to build phonics connections, provide supportive feedback, and monitor student progress.
- Use periodic assessment of individual reading levels to guide the choice of reading selections and instruction for each child. Teachers keep running records of children's oral reading in graded materials; they use these records along with other reading-level measures to determine children's independent reading level and instructional needs. Using observations, anecdotal notes, and portfolios to assess children's letter-sound skills, phonemic awareness, word recognition, and comprehension skills, teachers track individual literacy progress and plan suitable instructional activities.
- Work with parents and families to develop a print-rich environment at home that will develop children's skills and instill a love of reading and writing. Activities may include borrowing books from community or school libraries, keeping a parent-child journal, doing family histories and interviews, and playing literacy-related games such as word scavenger hunts. Teachers also keep parents informed about children's reading and writing progress at school.
Frequently asked questions: What is High/Scope's position on ...
Using phonics?Learning letter-sound patterns and the relationships between speech sounds and written words is a fundamental part of learning to read in High/Scope classrooms. Teachers first emphasize children's awareness of the individual sounds in words through activities involving rhyming; matching words with similar beginning and ending sounds; breaking words into sound units; combining, deleting, and changing sounds to create new words; and synthesizing words from individual sounds. Along with these phonemic awareness activities, teachers give children experiences connecting speech sounds with letters and letter patterns in printed words. Children apply these phonics skills as they read and/or write stories and other kinds of texts.
Using direct instruction?High/Scope teachers present some concepts and skills directly (for example, letter sounds, vocabulary, handwriting, punctuation) by describing them and presenting examples orally and in print. High/Scope teachers also engage children with content by asking them to recall facts or skills, and by practicing it in application activities. High/Scope teachers do not rely on verbal transmission or scripted lessons to convey information that can be learned inductively, nor do they rely on repeated practice of skills in isolation when these skills can be acquired more effectively through use in practical contexts. High/Scope teachers balance their instructional initiatives with children's initiatives by providing choices, asking children to plan learning projects of their own, and encouraging children to use creative thinking and problem solving in teacher-assigned tasks and activities. Teachers plan large-group activities and small-group workshops, while children plan their own learning activities during the plan-do-review segment of the daily routine. Teachers maintain a consistent schedule and set high expectations for children's work and for children's care and support of one another.
Meeting local and state standards?The High/Scope elementary key experiences in child development provide a core of developmentally sequenced curriculum objectives and performance indicators around which the High/Scope approach is built. The key experiences have been cross-referenced with both state and national standards in the major curriculum areas, including language arts and reading. Although such matches can never be exact (the standards differ somewhat from one another), the key experiences are highly compatible with most state and local standards and indicators for language arts and reading.
Supporting English language acquisition?When English is a second language, the extent of the child's literacy development in the first language is seen as a bridge to literacy in English. When possible, teachers use pictures, gestures, peer translators, and words and phrases from children's first language to establish communication as they help children acquire sounds, words, and reading/writing fluency in English.
Reading is a central focus of High/Scope's comprehensive approach to K-3 classrooms and curriculum. Because of its roots in cognitive psychology, the High/Scope approach emphasizes children's active involvement in the learning process. Reading instruction integrates phonologic skills and vocabulary development with work in connected text-reading for meaning and writing to express it-a principle emphasized repeatedly in the report of the National Reading Panel (2000). The High/Scope elementary approach can give schools and teachers the tools to prepare children for future literacy learning and enable them to take responsibility for setting and achieving personally meaningful goals. High/Scope teaches children not only how to read and write but also how to use and enjoy these skills throughout life.
Hohmann, C. F. (1996). Foundations in elementary education: Overview. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.
National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (Report of the National Reading Panel). Washington, DC: National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.
Schweinhart, L. J. (1991). Validity of the High/Scope K-3 Curriculum (Proposal to the Program Effectiveness Panel, U. S. Department of Education). Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Educational Research Foundation.
Schweinhart, L. J., & Wallgren, C. (1993). Effects of a Follow Through program on school achievement. Journal of Research in Childhood Education 8 (1), 43-56.
For more information about the High/Scope educational approach to reading and writing, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann S. Epstein, Director, Early Childhood Division, Ph.D., Developmental Psychology; Charles Hohmann, Director, Elementary Division, Ph.D., Educational Psychology; Mary Hohmann, Senior Early Childhood Specialist and Senior Staff Writer, B.A. English
Reprinted with the permission of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation. © 2007 All rights reserved.
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