- Language Development in the Early Years
This digest, written from a social interaction perspective, provides readers an overview of children's language development in the first five years of their life.
- Phonemic Awareness
An Important Early Step in Learning To Read
This Digest discusses the concept of the awareness that spoken language is made up of discrete sounds, why this concept is so important to early childhood educators, its relation to the debate on the best type of reading instruction, and finally, teaching methods that may help children in developing such an awareness.
- Phonics in Whole Language Classrooms
This digest discusses some of the ways children develop functional phonics knowledge in the context of authentic reading and writing, as well as some of the ways teachers can foster such development.
- Beginning Reading
This digest provides unequivocal research evidence that students who enter first grade with phonological awareness skills are more successful readers and urges explicit instruction in these skills. The two processes described here, (1) phonological awareness and (2) word recognition, are essential to teaching beginning reading to children with diverse learning and curricular needs, such as students with learning disabilities.
- Encouraging Young Children's
Recent studies in emergent literacy -- the early stages of
learning to write and read -- have shown that young children
compose before they know much about the conventions of writing and
reading or have the skill to control the formation of letters. It is important to recognize that graphic experimentation at the preschool and kindergarten levels allows children to use comfortable, nonconventional forms of writing to express complex thoughts.
- What Elementary Teachers Need To Know about Language
This digest summarizes some basic aspects of oral and written language about which elementary teachers need expertise in order to promote literacy.
- Helping Children Overcome Reading Difficulties
The digest offers a definition and discussion of dyslexia, examines instructional conditions that help the reading comprehension of children labeled as learning disabled, offers suggestions for choosing helpful reading materials, and stresses the importance of a positive attitude on the part of the child.
- Organizing for Effective Reading Instruction
This digest deals with within-class reading ability grouping. It discusses limitations of grouping; teacher attitudes; student recollections of ability grouping experiences; and grouping for specific purposes (focusing on cooperative learning and its benefits).
- Student Groupings for Reading Instruction
This digest summarizes research on methods of student grouping in reading instruction other than whole-class instruction and ability grouping.
- Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well & Often
Boys tend to learn to read later, take longer to learn, comprehend narrative texts less easily, value reading less, and read a wider number of genres over a broader range of topics than girls. This digest provides information on how schools and families can improve the reading skills of boys, particularly poor elementary school level boys of color.
- Vocabulary Instruction and Reading Comprehension
The issue in the classroom usually revolves around how to improve the student's reading comprehension, whether it be in content area reading or in the language arts. Should the teacher teach vocabulary directly or incidentally? That is, should words be targeted for the learners or should they develop naturally through reading and the learner's desire to clarify concepts?
- Increasing Comprehension by Activating Prior Knowledge
It appears that when readers lack the prior knowledge necessary to read, three major instructional interventions need to be considered: (1) teach vocabulary as a prereading step; (2) provide experiences; and (3) introduce a conceptual framework that will enable students to build appropriate background for themselves.
- Open-Ended Questions in Reading
Research has helped shift the focus from learning as content knowledge per se to learning as the ability to use and interpret knowledge critically and thoughtfully. If subject knowledge itself is not a sufficient criterion for achievement, simple judgments of correct and incorrect are not enough to assess achievement. A more open-ended form of testing is required.
- Helping Children Understand Literary Genres
Reading a variety of literary genres has a related positive effect on writing. One genre that might be effective as a beginning point, and is particularly enjoyable for children, is folktales. It is not necessary for children to define every piece of literature that they read, though the elementary school curriculum should provide a wide range of genres.
- Teaching Children To Appreciate Literature
Two basic approaches to teaching literature at any level are the "structural" (traditional literary analysis) and the "reader response" approaches. For children, encounters with literature should retain characteristics of play, children's most natural activity. As they encounter more varied literature, children must make decisions such as setting purposes for themselves and modifying reading strategies in accordance with the possibilities within a text.
- Teaching Critical Reading through Literature
This Digest focuses on developing thinking skills in reading. Readers draw on background experiences to compose a text, engaging in an ongoing negotiation to arrive at meaning. This is fundamental to the act of reading. For this reason, reading offers the potential for higher level thinking.
- Metacognition and Reading To Learn
Metacognition has been defined as "having knowledge (cognition) and having understanding, control over, and appropriate use of that knowledge". Thus, it involves both the conscious awareness and the conscious control of one's learning. This digest presents reading to learn from a metacognitive perspective as it relates to four variables: texts, tasks, strategies, and learner characteristics.
- Strategic Processing of Text
Improving Reading Comprehension of Students with Learning Disabilities
This digest summarizes relevant research and promising practices in the strategic processing of text, focusing first on the strategic processing of narrative and then expository text.
This digest explores the nature of students' metacomprehension, or their awareness of their own understanding, and the implications of this awareness for reading instruction. After defining metacomprehension, the digest discusses why this awareness is important to the learning process. It then suggests ways that English and language arts teachers can help students improve their metacomprehension. Finally, the digest explores ways in which teachers can evaluate student metacomprehension.
- Grammar & Its Teaching: Challenging the Myths
Grammar is often misunderstood in the language teaching field. The misconception lies in the view that grammar is a collection of arbitrary rules about static structures in the language. Further questionable claims are that the structures do not have to be taught, learners will acquire them on their own, or if the structures are taught, the lessons that ensue will be boring. Consequently, communicative and proficiency-based teaching approaches sometimes unduly limit grammar instruction. Of the many claims about grammar that deserve to be called myths, this digest will challenge ten.
- Teaching Creative Writing in the Elementary School
Noting that most children enter school with a natural interest in writing, this digest discusses how elementary school teachers can become actively involved in teaching creative writing to their students. The digest considers several reasons for teaching creative writing, provides practical suggestions from other teachers about teaching story writing, reports on the effectiveness of peer feedback, and offers some ideas about publishing children's writing.
- Writing as a Response to Reading
Reading and writing exist only in relation to each other. Writing is to reading as waking is to sleeping, as giving is to receiving. The one act presupposes the other act. Together, the two acts are one act, and yet each remains a separate act, at the same time. Literally, to write and read, we must give and receive.
- Effective Use of Student Journal Writing
Student journal writing can connect reading, writing, and discussing through activities that accommodate diverse learning styles and that further students' linguistic development. The various uses of journal writing can be incorporated into one compact student notebook: dialogue journals, literary journals and subject journal.
- Teaching Expressive Writing
This digest discusses expressive writing and the expressive mode, which is seen as a recurring stage in a writer's process of writing. The digest advocates using journal writing as a stimulus for various stages in the creative process and presents several class exercises and assignments in journal writing which can help develop the students' expressive writing abilities.
- Audience Awareness: When and How Does It Develop?
A case can be made for teachers to use audience-oriented teaching strategies that encourage children to write for a wide range of readers. Even so, questions remain about how writers, especially student writers, actually learn to consider an audience of readers when they write.
- Writing Instruction: Current Practices in the Classroom
Noting that the emphasis in writing instruction over the past 40 years has shifted from product to process, this digest focuses on the experience of individual teachers as they searched for ways to put the principles of process writing into practice in the classroom. The digest discusses (1) writer's workshops (2) questions about writer's workshops (3) journal writing and (4) writing instruction in the upper grades.