Assignment #10

April 29th, 2010

Delineate the definition of reading to which WL, DI, and CL subscribe in the text and your opinion of each.

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19 Responses to “Assignment #10”

  1. Jillian Pearsall on April 30, 2010 5:43 pm

    “Balanced literacy is a form of DI because of its typically strong focus on sounds and words” (p.112). This form of DI allows the teacher more freedom while other forms are structured with less choice for the teacher and students. “Teaching from a DI view involves direct and systematic instruction that follows a specific scope and sequence” (p.114). There is a strong focus on comprehension, “Comprehension is a relationship-an interaction-between the reader and the text in which the reader delves into the text to find specific answers to questions” (p.114) Rather than finding “specific answers to questions,” students should have freedom to develop discussions and conversations with classmates to agree or disagree with the text. A drawback to this form of teaching is the use of decodable text; an example is on p. 116. These texts do not resemble any story pattern and most of the time doesn’t make any sense. The whole purpose of reading is to make meaning. “The programs arrive with scripted teacher’s guides, meaning the language that the teacher should use is provided by the publisher” (p.117). That whole mindset defeats the purpose of going to school for teaching. Anyone can be a teacher then; teachers are just robots. Overall the DI form has many good aspects but some aspects fit into the criticism of “one size fits all,” which is the opposite of meeting student’s individual needs.

    “The Whole Language view of the reading process and of reading instruction is rooted in the idea that the goal of reading is the making of meaning” (p.124). Most of WL form of teaching is based on “meaning making,” which is an important part of learning to read. “Transactional refers to the belief that comprehension has to do with an individual’s experiences, so each person has a unique understanding of the text, an understanding that they create in their own minds” (p.124). This view takes into account, that all children are different therefore; students should be able to apply their personal experiences to make their own meaning of the text, which will be different than other students. “If we want children to be independent readers, we must, according to the Whole Language theory, teach them strategies that do not rely on teachers for dealing with new words” (p.125). This form of teaching is beneficial for students to develop in reading, because at one point or another students will be alone; therefore it is important they are able to use strategies to figure out unknown words. “Teaching is an ongoing process of decision making based in a teacher’s constant use of assessment that inform instruction” (p.127). Assessment should be used to guide instruction to cater to the needs of your students. “Children’s choices are integrated into teaching” (p.127). Allowing children to have choices in reading will perk their interest and retain their attention. The Whole Language view incorporates components that will aid in children’s development in reading by promoting “grand conversations,” teaching reading strategies, using assessment to guide instruction, and using different assessments to track students growth which will ultimately result in meaning making readers.

    The Critical Literacy approach is an extension of Whole Language with the addition of resources that support students culturally. “CL teachers move from the awareness of cultural relevance to an active involvement with cultural issues. Culturally responsive teaching is rooted in the idea that children learn best when cultural and linguistic familiarity and sensitivity are integrated into the reading curriculum” (p.138). This approach goes far beyond just supplying students with culturally relevant texts. “The ‘critical’ part of critical literacy is focused on gaining knowledge of and responding to inequitable distributions of power, prestige, and wealth” (p.140). Most of the conversations and discussions about texts refer to students’ lives and the language and culture of those students. “CL teachers work to understand this, disrupt it, and provide all children access to texts that are meaningful, authentic, and culturally responsive, and that stimulate conversation, reflection, and action” (p.142). Teachers are supplying students with the experience to understand and dispute authentic texts that apply to their real lives. It seems that most of the focus of this approach is on the political decisions that teachers make, rather than, focusing the attention on children’s development in reading. On the other hand, “Critical Literacy, supporting the ideas that children and teachers need choice, students read for meaning first and foremost, and that all the cueing systems contribute to the making of meaning” (p. 153). This view of CL does support children’s reading development, which is the most important aspect of the three approaches.

    Note: All quotes came from Meyer and Manning: Reading and Teaching.

  2. Erica Menchin on May 2, 2010 12:26 pm

    The Direct Instruction view of the reading process focuses on the teaching of fluency. The DI approach emphasizes the teaching of sounds and words. Teachers of this approach believe that once students build their fluency, comprehension will automatically follow. They believe “comprehension is caught, not taught” (114). I disagree with this philosophy because I think it is important to teach children comprehension strategies so they can eventually use them on their own when reading. The DI view of the reading process is often used by new teachers because it provides an organized, mapped out curriculum with scripted lessons. I think this approach is the easiest way to teach reading because it doesn’t involve a lot of planning. However, it doesn’t cater to the individual needs of all students.

    The Whole Language view of the reading process focuses on making meaning. In the WL approach to reading, children’s backgrounds are not only taken into account, but are used to drive instruction. In this approach, each child practices the skills they need to become a better reader. Although this approach is ideal, it is often very difficult to carry out in a classroom, especially with an administration that pushes their own program with scripted lessons. I believe teaching students to make meaning and recognizing that each student can have a different transaction with the same text is an ideal way of teaching reading, but is not always practical in the classroom. Perhaps if teachers that are forced to use the DI approach can incorporate certain aspects of WL into their day, children would have an easier time making meaning.

    The Critical Literacy view of the reading process focuses on the transformational teaching of reading. It takes the Whole Language view of reading to a further level. Teachers of the CL approach have their students actively involved in cultural issues. Although teachers of this approach believe it is important for students to participate in culturally responsive activities, they don’t think students should be limited to these types of activities. The CL approach believes in also exposing students to the current world they are a part of. As a teacher, I believe it is crucial to celebrate the diversity of your classroom and to use the diverse backgrounds of students when choosing texts and teaching reading. I think the fact that teachers of this approach also believe it’s important to expose children to their current worlds is a positive to this reading process.

  3. Jessica McCarson on May 2, 2010 4:27 pm


    The Direct Instruction view is a view of reading that focuses on sounds and on the importance of comprehension. “Balanced literacy is a form of DI because its typically strong focus on sounds and words” (112). DI is guided and follows a scope and sequence. I feel that is why a lot of teachers prefer it. I think that teachers who use DI use it because they like that it is guided and structured. This makes teachers feel more comfortable. DI also emphasizes that phonics should be committed to memory. “Teaching from this view often requires the presentation of phonics rules that children must commit to memory” (115). The thing I do not like about DI is that teachers are expected to use exactly what is provided. I feel that limits what a teacher can do. I think homogenously grouping the students is a good factor but I also think that students should be grouped heterogeneously; it depends on what task they are doing. I think DI as a whole is good for first year teachers because many first year teachers want to stick to what they know they are suppose to do. I think DI has good aspects and has structure but I think it is not enough and needs to focus on the interests and needs of the children.


    The Whole Language view of reading focuses on making meaning. The relationship between the reader and the text is important in this view of reading. “Meaning resides in this relationship between the reader and the text; meaning does not solely reside on the pages of the book” (124). The WL view is seen as transactional. “This view of reading as transactional means that a reader’s experiences are considered an important facet of the sense that a reader makes of a text” (125). I like that this view of reading incorporates the reader’s experiences. The experiences make the reader who they are and can help them relate to a book. “Each reader who looks at the text has a unique experience with that text because each reader comes to the text with the uniqueness of his or her own prior experiences and knowledge” (125). WL considers what the reader needs to learn to understand a given text. “The Whole Language view involves a consideration of what the reader knows and what she or he may need to learn in order to understand a particular text” (125). I also like that the WL view also looks at the reader’s needs and interests, which is very important. It is important that students are able to make connections to what they are reading. In the WL view, the students are given opportunities to do so. The choices of books are picked by what the teacher thinks they will connect with and what they will be interested in. I also like that in the WL view, the students are grouped homogenously and heterogeneously. In this view, students are expected to learn but not expected to learn perfectly. Students will make miscues but the miscues are not a bad thing. Miscues are a part of learning. “No reader is expected to read every text perfectly, nor are they expected to write without
    misspellings or other nonconventional (and temporary) features appearing in their work” (132). WL also incorporates culturally responsive texts, which I feel is very important. “Culturally responsive and relevant teaching are part of this view of teaching reading because teachers subscribing to this view believe that a child learns to read more easily when linguistic, social, and cultural norms of the community are integrated into the school” (135). When students are interested in a text, they are more likely to relate and understand it. If a child is not interested in a text, it will be more difficult for them to understand it and harder for them to relate to it. Overall, I think the WL view is a view that more teachers should use. However, it depends on the environment you are teaching in. Some classrooms DI would be more suitable, others it would not. However, I myself would try to use the WL view because I feel it is important to realize what the needs of the students are and what they are interested in. I feel knowing this will help them learned better.


    The Critical Literacy view is an addition to the whole language view. CL focuses more on active involvement in cultural issues. “CL teachers move from the awareness of cultural relevance that WL teachers have to an active involvement with cultural issues” (138). The reading curriculum in this view is based on “the belief that learning a language cannot be separated from the culture in which a student lives (139). I feel this is very important because students need their culture in their life and just because they learn a new language does not mean that their culture should be “put off to the side” in school. A student’s culture should be acknowledged in school. I like that this view gets students involved in their communities. Students should know what’s going on in their community. They should know about where they live and the issues inside of the community. “Some Critical Literacy teachers engage their students in issues specific to the students’ community by having the children to find multiple viewpoints and consider sociopolitical issues” (139). CL focuses on learning about the unlawful distributions in society and being able to respond to it. “The ‘critical’ part of critical literacy is focused on gaining knowledge of and responding to inequitable distributions of power, prestige, and wealth” (140). CL also focuses on comprehension, the way texts are written and read, and how to use texts that are part of social and culture settings. “Readers also learn that reading involves the making of meaning by comprehending what a text says within the language and culture in which the reader lives” (141). CL teaches that reading is political and wants to help them become thoughtful citizens. “The CL definition of reading involves understanding that reading- all reading- is a political activity” (141). I feel that the reason most teachers do not use this view of reading because they are not political or they do not want their views of politics to influence their teaching. Overall, I feel this view is very political and if you are not political yourself, you will not use this view of reading. I do think it is important for students to learn about their community and know that they are part of it, however, I feel focusing on students needs and interests are more important in the development of reading. I think the CL view of reading would be more appropriate for upper grades, like 5th grade and higher.

  4. Jacqueline Singer on May 2, 2010 8:13 pm

    In our class text we are learning about three reading instruction strategies; Critical Literacy, Whole Language and Direct Instruction. According to the text, DI (Direct Instruction) is direct systematic instruction, typically seen in phonics programs. In DI the focus is on learning sounds. Children become familiar with the way sounds and letters are represented and symbolized in print. Also, sounds are learned in independent units. The words are learned as they are encountered within text. Our text describes the idea behind DI as learning in parts; a sort of scaffolding approach. As the reader comes across unfamiliar text they are expected to use their knowledge of sounds, syllables and prefixes to decode. Most DI programs are scripted. Unlike DI, WL (Whole Language) is looked at as a more natural way of learning to read. WL is treated as language to create meaning, which becomes a means of reading. In order words, language is learned from whole to part, (meaning to sounds.) Compared to DI, WL instruction is meant to be specific to the students. In case four, Janesse demonstrates how the Critical Literacy is used. “…is sometimes refereed to as an extension of the Whole Language view…” (Meyer and Manning) Critical Literacy tends to involve the focus of reading social justice themes, to create awareness and appreciation for cultural issues in society.

    I believe all of these approaches can function. Is one better than the other? I am not sure because it depends on the kind of students you are dealing with. Direct Instruction can be useful to students with special needs or disabilities. Typically I do not like to work with systematic instruction. It feels robotic and planned. Ideally I would like to use whole language, because it allows for me to meet the individual needs of my students. Aside from these reading approaches, Critical Literacy is of huge importance to me as a reading instruction strategy. Critical Literacy is not only authentic but is absolutely necessary in the areas I work in. Critical Literacy teaches children to investigate social issues and value important people throughout history. Critical Literacy can also be used to correct common bias. Also, Critical Literacy opens opportunities for exciting topics and studies. Most importantly, Critical Literacy allows for me to use culturally appropriate and culturally significant material to support my students’ needs and spark their interests in learning. This reminds them that I am interested in their culture and want to incorporate it into the entire class’s curriculum.

  5. Meredith Kelleher on May 2, 2010 8:27 pm

    I believe DI focuses strongly on letter-sound recognition and the decoding of words. I don’t agree that the DI approach is also referred to as “balanced literacy”. When I think of balanced literacy, I think of shared reading, shared writing, interactive read alouds, etc. Direct Instruction just makes me think of a phonics program that focuses mainly on the sounds of letters, the blending of letter sounds, and the learning of whole words (ex. through sight word recognition). It doesn’t include any aspect of meaning or comprehension from what I believe. By strictly teaching letter sounds and whole words, doesn’t help a child to create meaning and be able to comprehend a text. Yes, a child may be a fluent reader from direct instruction, but may not be able to comprehend what’s going on because that child may just be focusing on the letters and the words, making sure he/she is saying them correctly. When I think of direct instruction, I think of a Fundations Program, where yes, it’s understandable to teach a child their letters, sounds, blends, etc. but that’s not all reading is. In DI, there’s too much focus on that, and not on the greater aspect of reading. If students learn the sounds of words, that doesn’t mean they are going to understand what they mean!

    WL approach comes from the idea that children make meaning while reading. WL focuses more on the relationship between the reader and the text, and how everyone has a different connection to the text, based on prior knowledge and experience. When we read, we connect to the text we are reading. We aren’t just focusing on the words and how they look or how to pronounce them. WL is more than that! Yes, one needs to be able to decode words in order to read, but the meaning one makes from reading is what I consider to be extremely important during the reading process. I agree that “reading is socio, psychological, linguistic, and transactional” (Meyer and Manniong 124).

    The CL approach seems to be somewhat of an extension of the WL approach. Critical literacy takes into account the diversity within student’s lives. I like how the CL approach brings social issues into it. Social issues surround us everyday and children need to be aware of them and see how they have an impact on our decisions. “Critical literacy involves comprehension, of course, but all comprehension is rooted in power and position, thus it is political” (Meyer and Manning 140). I don’t believe reading should be taught from a political standpoint. Yes, social issues can be integrated, but shouldn’t be the only option. Politics and reading don’t go hand in hand for me as this approach seems to be.

    If I were to pick one approach, I would pick the whole language approach. I can see how all approaches touch on important aspects of reading, but the whole language seems to be the most important aspect of the reading process. The main reason we read is to create meaning from our individual experiences and connections we make. That’s why I view reading as so powerful, because we can create anything we want from it. I do think DI is important because before children make meaning, they need to be fluent and be able to decode words. Also, the cultural, political aspect is important, but overall I am for Whole Language ! =)

  6. Margaret C. Bena (Kelly) on May 2, 2010 8:58 pm

    Direct Instruction: the teacher usually is lecturing; then the teacher guides the students through a complex problem, with the problem broken down into simple steps; then the students are given, one by one, the simple steps to carry out on their own; finally, the students are given one or many sample problems to accomplish on their own.

    This form of teaching walks students through daily lessons. In my opinion, this is a successful way of teaching some students but not all. The reason why I feel this method of teaching is successful, is because some students need the extra help in daily practice to better master the tasks in front of them. However, this is not for all students. The students that are “free thinkers” would have a difficult time in this classroom. Following the step by step way of teaching does not allow them to freely express their thought and ideas.

    Critical Literacy: encourages readers to actively analyze texts and it offers strategies for uncovering underlying messages. It tends to involve the focus of reading social justice themes, to create awareness and appreciation for cultural issues in society.

    This form of teaching encourages students to become more aware of why certain things are occurring around them. The students are asked to explain the thought that they are having. It is my opinion that this method is successful with a range of students. It allows them to bring their person history and culture to the classroom and the lessons that are presented. It would be successful, if the teacher who is presenting the material is not permitting the students to freely express themselves.

    Whole Language is a method of teaching reading that emphasizes literature and text comprehension. Students are taught to use critical thinking strategies and to use context to “guess” words that they do not recognize

    This form of teaching will be successful if the students have mastered the phonics lessons that are taught with it. This form of teaching will not be successful if the student has not mastered the lessons. They may rely on other strategies that have been put in place, such as picture clues to understand the meaning of the text, but will not fully comprehend the meaning of what they are reading.

    Each of these methods has positives and negatives. Much of it has to do with the classroom environment that the students and teacher has created. One year the teacher may have a class that will benefit from Whole Language and then the following year the class works better with Direct Instruction. The teacher has to know and plan lessons that will meet the needs of the students in the class.

  7. Kristyn O'Brien on May 2, 2010 9:03 pm

    In DI reading is the act of making words by associating a speech sound with a letter or group of letters. This is a phonics based view. In DI students acquire the skill of recalling quickly. Children must commit rules to memory. In the DI view, fluency is defined as the number of words read in a minute, not comprehension. DI teachers deliver the curriculum in the proper order from a publisher. The teacher and the publisher are the decision makers in DI. I believe that the teacher in some instances needs to be the decision maker, but it is imperative to also give choices and decisions to children. I believe DI is more teacher-centered and not democratic. Children are not given the chance to know why they learn what they are taught. They are expected to just memorize and pay attention, without discussion.

    In WL views reading has a deeper meaning. The goal of WL is the making of meaning. Readers bring certain experiences to a text, and those experiences matter in the view. Children have a unique understanding what the text means. The reading processes and instructional practices reflect the needs and interests of the children. I think this is the reason why I believe WL is one of the best views. Children should learn what they need to know and what practices that will make them better individually. They also have the opportunity to read relative texts not based of a published curriculum. Children transact with texts and discuss with the teacher and their peers. This view is student-centered and that is how I believe I would like to run my classroom. WL views reading and writing as intertwined. It is based on whole texts and lessons that readers may learn from relationships with those texts. Books and literature teach some of the best lessons. They serve as motivation for multisensory approaches to teaching. It is important to use both informal and formal assessments, which WL does. WL programs view children as “curious and responsive individuals who learn as individuals and socially.” (p. 132)

    CL views receive, incorporate, and embrace “diversity and supports students in becoming active within and upon their worlds.”(p. 139) Children work towards finding multiple view points. They also consider political and sociological issues. CL is focused on gaining knowledge of and responding to unfair distributions of power, prestige, and wealth. All reading is a political activity in the CL view. CL teachers develop thoughtful citizens. The teacher matches texts to her students. The teacher explores the political nature of texts and their contents and contexts with the class. I believe it is essential that teachers present culturally responsive texts in their classroom. I also believe molding children into politically aware and strong United States citizens will make for a better America in the future. CL views are relatable to WL views. I think these views are the most accountable for teaching reading in the classroom.

  8. Tami Redler on May 2, 2010 9:28 pm

    The Direct Instruction (DI) approach is a basal program that uses sounds and letters to represent words. This approach relies heavily on phonics. “Reading is the act of making words by associating a speech sound with a letter or group of letters.” Comprehension skills are taught where a reader will find all the answers to questions in a given text. The program the teacher follows is scripted and comes with worksheets and assessments all planned out. The teacher does the lessons each day exactly how its stated in the book. This approach also relies on standardized testing for assessment (formal assessment). I believe that the DI approach could work well for younger grades, including kindergarten-3rd grade. This is appropriate because during these grades children are getting the feeling of reading and developing their skills. Since these programs rely heavily on phonics, it’s what students need at an early age to help them learn the basics for reading. This will later help them in their writing. By fourth grade, I feel this program would become very boring and redundant for the students and it wouldn’t be as effective. The DI approach could also be beneficial for a new teacher (1st year) to get a feel of how to teach reading. It’s difficult to try to figure out how to teach to all your students to read. If the new teachers use a basal program, it won’t be as overwhelming, and they can take what they learn and tweak their practices for the upcoming years. It seems that schools either have a basal program or they don’t and most teachers don’t get to decide how they want to teach reading and writing. I feel that teachers should be able to decide or take bits and pieces from each approach to help their students. The teacher knows best about the students and their teaching needs, as well as they best way each student learns. I feel that in these basal programs, the creators don’t consider the needs of all the students, and the programs are not beneficial for all students.

    The Whole Language (WL) approach is a “transactional approach” where the reader is making connections with the text. The reader uses his/her experiences to relate to the text and make meaning of what he/she believes the author is saying. The most interesting part is that every reader is going to have his/her own unique experience with text because every person has been through different situations. In this approach, the teacher takes into consideration the needs of all the children in the class to make reflective decisions on teaching reading and writing. In this approach, students are conversing with each other and sharing their ideas, opinions, beliefs of the text together. The teacher uses a more informal assessment and can measure a child’s comprehension based on his/her input to the conversation. This approach seems to be more common in classrooms today. I feel that teachers enjoy the freedom of choosing how to teach reading and writing. They can be creative with their ways of teaching and key in on the students’ interests. I feel that students enjoy this approach more because they get to read things that connect to their lives and it makes school more interesting. This approach should be used more in the upper grades because they have the foundations of reading and writing and can now use their strategies to discuss and connect to texts. It considers a higher level of thinking. It should also be used in the lower grades, but with a mix between the DI approach and the WL approach.

    The Critical Literacy (CL) approach is an add-on of the WL approach. Teachers who teach this approach use texts that are culturally relevant to their students, and have their students discuss the text. Students learn that they can act upon their discussions, such as writing a letter to the principal about starting a recycling program in their school after learning about pollution in their town. This view “welcomes, includes, and embraces diversity and supports students in becoming active within and upon their worlds.” This is a very political approach, and I feel it’s a difficult approach to take on in your classroom. A teacher who uses this approach must be very knowledgeable about current events going on as well as the backgrounds of all the students in the class. The CL teachers have to work hard to find texts that are meaningful to all the students, something the students can relate to. I feel this approach is seen in the upper grades, but you definitely don’t see many teachers using this approach because most teachers are not comfortable with it or don’t know much about it. This approach really shows students how important reading is and that students can make a difference in their world. It’s an important approach to use in the classroom and I feel that teachers should be taught more about it because students get so much out of reading culturally relevant texts and recognizing diversity.

  9. Colleen Ferry on May 2, 2010 9:38 pm

    Direct Instruction focuses on teaching students letters and sounds. Direct Instruction programs are usually scripted for teachers. This does not allow much room for teacher creativity. Students are not taught to read for meaning, but to read to decode. Direct Instruction programs provide teachers with language that they should use while presenting teaching points. In my own experience with DI, this approach works for some students, but does not allow for teachers to differentiate and meet the needs of all students. Although I think that students do need a good phonics foundation, they also need to create meaning from what they are reading. Teachers need to be able to change their teaching according to the needs of their students and direct instruction does not allow for this.

    The Whole Language approach focuses on creating meaning from the text. Students learn that letters do not just make sounds, but they are put together to make words that tell a story. I believe that in order for students to really be reading, they need to be ale to understand what they are reading. Whole Language helps in developing comprehension skills. Overall, this approach allows teachers to teach to the needs of their students more than direct instruction does. Although I do believe that students need to learn phonics early on, which can be done through DI, I believe that the WL approach is more effective in creating well-rounded readers. Students can relate to the text and create their own meaning based on their own experiences. This type of approach leaves room for student and teacher creativity.

    The Critical Language approach encourages teachers and students to expand their knowledge about culture and other important issues in society through reading. Students are encouraged to relate texts to their own lives, and therefore CL is somewhat of an extension of WL. Teachers aim to choose texts for students that will help them learn about the cultures surrounding them. The students in my current class do not have very diverse backgrounds, and so I think it is important for them to learn about other cultures as much as possible. Given the age of my students (Kindergarten) and their lack of experiences with cultures other than their own, my students often have a difficult time fully comprehending stories about children that are different from them. For this reason, I think CL is important in my class. It is difficult to teach in depth about societal issues to children who are so young, so I hope in their futures they will be able to learn and understand more about other cultures, neighborhoods and the world.

  10. Judy Feder on May 2, 2010 9:59 pm

    The Direct Instruction view of the reading process focuses mostly on sounds and words. “Reading is considered a process in which the reader makes correspondence between letters and sounds and recalls words…” (p. 113) according to the DI approach. There is not as much of a focus on reading comprehension, as it is thought that comprehension will naturally follow once fluency is mastered. With DI, children are exposed to a large amount of high-frequency sight words that they are expected to commit to memory. I think that DI can be a very successful approach to teaching most children how to read. I believe that children need to initially learn how to read in this way, by making connections between letters and sounds to read words. Many times children can understand the words if they are able to read the text fluently; however, it could also be that they are able to decode the word very well but still not understand its meaning. Also, children may be able to comprehend individual words, but have difficulty putting it all together to understand what the text is saying. Overall, I think that DI is a good way to begin teaching children to read, but may need to be supplemented later on by being placed in a meaningful context where the focus is more on meaning making.

    The Whole Language view sees reading as a meaning making process. According to WL, children bring their own experiences, background knowledge, and knowledge of phonics/semantics/vocabulary to interact with the text in a unique way, creating their own meaning of it. Reading is therefore seen as a transactional process. The WL approach finds teaching children reading strategies so that they can become independent readers important. It acknowledges that readers use the graphophonic, lexicogrammatic, semantic, and pragmatic cueing systems of reading, but the focus of reading is still on meaning making. The WL approach to reading is the one that we have focused on a lot in class, and so I have seen how it is important to incorporate in the teaching of reading. I think it’s very important to direct instruction according to the children’s needs and what they currently understand/don’t understand, as the WL reading approach outlines. This is necessary to do with beginning readers and advanced readers alike. Also, the focus of reading as a meaning making process is crucial for our students to understand, as they will always need to utilize reading in all aspects of their lives. I also like that the WL approach doesn’t look at the text alone, but also considers the unique experiences and knowledge of our students that contribute so much to their sense making. I would definitely want to use WL in my classroom along with DI to create what I consider a balanced literacy program that focuses on the sounds and words of a text along with meaning making.

    The Critical Literacy view of the reading process holds similar beliefs to that of WL. In addition, CL also acknowledges societal issues, and trends in the populations of our schools. According to this view, reading involves learning the conventions of writing, meaning making within one’s language/culture, learning to “use texts that are part of various social and cultural settings” (p.141), and learning that what one reads is politically charged. I think that this approach encourages students to become active and knowledgeable citizens of their communities. I like the idea that texts are discussed, placed in context, and the larger political/societal picture is looked at. At first I found CL hard to understand and didn’t think that I would be able to incorporate it in my classroom, but the book explains that most teachers (especially those who use WL) unknowingly utilize CL in their discussions surrounding texts and text selection. I believe that it can easily be incorporated along with WL to help make students aware of political and societal issues within their reading of texts.

  11. Jenna Favuzza on May 2, 2010 10:24 pm

    The Direct Instruction view of reading focuses on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. It seems to me that phonics is valued over making meaning and the comprehension that goes on is just spitting back lines from a basal reader. This to me does not sound like reflective meaning making. I think that if teachers are able to use the basal reader as a starting off point, but not an entire approach, it can be helpful. Individual differences are really not addressed in this view so it cannot be enough of an approach in-and-of itself.

    This brings me to the Whole Language view of the reading process. Whole Language instruction focuses on the making of meaning based on prior experiences and knowledge. Also, students are given more choices in selecting books that cater to their interest. This approach looks at the way each individual child uses graphophonics, lexicogrammatics, semantics, and pragmatics to make sense of reading. I find this view of reading to be more comprehensive of how reading should be taught as it differentiates much more than Direct Instruction.

    The third view discussed is the Critical Literacy view where learning is “always rooted in becoming a citizen, finding voice, understanding the commonplace in order to disrupt it if it is not democratic, understanding multiple points of view, gaining insights into sociopolitical issues, and taking action” (Reading and Teaching, 147). To me, this is going beyond making meaning while reading to critically think about whether the issue at hand is morally right. The Critical Literacy view also integrates culturally responsive teaching into reading because children cannot be isolated from their cultural identity. While it can be argued that useful elements can be gleaned from each theory, I personally would want to use the Whole Language view and incorporate Critical Literacy aspects as much as possible. I think students need to be motivated to think about how an issue affects people besides themselves.

  12. Jenna Tucciarone on May 2, 2010 11:44 pm

    Direct Instruction focuses on the bottom-up approach. This is also referred to as “Balanced Literacy” because of its strong focus on sounds and words (p. 112). Proponents of DI believe readers need to begin with the smallest unit of speech and gradually work toward larger words, then ultimately whole texts. Although DI focuses greatly on phonics, comprehension is still assessed.
    I believe DI is the foundation emergent readers need to become independent readers. If students first learn how to decode sounds and words they will only become more fluent readers in time. As fluency develops, teachers can begin teaching and assessing comprehension. Learning to read can be a taxing process for some children. Why frustrate them more by introducing additional skills that they will eventually master? I had difficulty learning to decode the words in the books I was reading as a first grader. If someone had expected me to answer questions about the story in addition to trying to read the words, I would have given up. I believe listening comprehension is a skill that could be taught along with DI. Students not only gain comprehension but a better understanding of the language by listening to the sounds and intonation the teacher uses as she reads. Just as Kendra did, students can learn how to decode by listening to the strategies that are modeled by their teachers. I think DI provides students with the solid instruction they need to serve as a basis before introducing new skills. Confidence plays a significant role in the reading process!

    The Whole Language approach to reading involves making meaning from text and finding relations between the reader and the text (p. 124). Unlike DI, the Whole Language approach believes “that a text will teach a reader what a word means within the contexts of the reader’s lived experiences and growing knowledge base” (p. 125). I think students benefit from whole language as they are exposed to more vocabulary and have an adequate understanding of grammatical structures, sentence structure, and punctuation. They have been introduced to some of the skills that are needed to aid in the whole language reading process. The skills they have not learned will be taught as the reader identifies with the text. I believe the WL approach should be introduced to students toward the end of 1st grade.

    The Critical Literacy approach is “rooted in the idea that children learn best when cultural and linguistic familiarity and sensitivity are integrated into the reading curriculum” (p. 138). Teachers like Sylvia know how important it is to incorporate a child’s cultural background into their learning. In addition to the regular challenges students face when learning to read, students who do not speak English as their first language face added challenges. I feel this approach should be introduced as early on as possible. Once again, confidence plays a large role in reading. If a student does not feel comfortable during this process, it will not be pleasant, therefore turning them off to reading all together. Overall, all three approaches should be used to teach reading. Students will become successful, well-rounded readers through gaining skills in decoding, comprehension, and the ability to relate to text on both a personal and cultural level.

  13. Dina Karivalis on May 4, 2010 6:49 pm

    DI: Direct instruction “involves direct and systematic instruction that follows a specific scope and sequence” (p.114). This means that direct instruction is teacher-modeled strategies where there is no student interaction except for listening. Teachers often use direct instruction because it is organized, clear, and an effective way to model a strategy. It also requires certain things be memorized by students. “Teaching from this view often requires the presentation of phonics rules that children must commit to memory” (115). I feel one negative aspect of direct instruction is that it is not individualized and does not meet the needs of all the students.
    WL: Whole Language is approach to reading that relies heavily on the reader making meaning with a text. “This view of reading as transaction means that a reader’s experiences are considered an important facet of the sense that a reader makes of a text” (125). It is understood that a child needs to learn to decode, however the whole language approach relies on connections to be considered “ a reader”. I think the whole language approach is a necessary element to teach reading in addition to other parts. I feel using solely the whole language approach wouldn’t be as effective as combining it with some phonics skills. Whole language is important for children to be excited about reading.
    CL: Critical literacy encourages students to analyze texts, looking for meaning, connections, and implications and to infer. It seems to be an addition to the whole language approach to teaching reading. The CL approach tried to get students to “use texts that are part of various social and cultural settings” (p.141). I think this is an important part of teaching reading. While it can be somewhat time consuming for the teacher to continuously look for books with cultural and social connections, it is important for students to be able to fully understand a text. I feel CL also strengthens a students understanding of a book they may already comprehend but wouldn’t necessarily connect too.

  14. Gina Genovese on May 4, 2010 8:24 pm

    Gina Genovese I am so sorry it’s late I had no access to a computer up until tonight, very stressful week.

    DI: Direct Instruction is the strategic approach to teaching literacy. These are well thought up reading lessons that are taught in a clear demonstrated manner, in which a teacher presents a clear teaching point that they expect to be independently carried out by each student. These are the daily min lessons done during balanced reading. The teacher is modeling a task and expects that they expect each student to carry out. DI is essential for students who are reading chapter books independently. It helps them to obtain and retain what they read. It helps develop strong reading skills that will help each student learn from their reading.
    Whole Class (W.L) Whole language is the phonetic approach to teaching language. This is the developmental stages of reading. It is during this time that processing skills and oral listening skills are being taught. This is when the student is applying the language into fluency and phonetics. I think this is a very crucial part of learning. For many students this will be the first sign of having a processing disability. If a student is unable to process the sounds of letters I feel the best way to correct this situation is through early intervention. The child may begin to show signs of a speech dilemma or struggling to process the language. Timing is crucial the faster that child receives speech services, reading resource or AIS the better the chances are of correcting the problem, before it affects the learning process.
    Critical Literacy (CI) is the analyzation of texts. This is when the student has the ability to read and comprehend; they are now able to apply a deeper meaning to what they are reading. This is when the student is able to read a text and develop personal meaning, backround or connection to a text. They are able to read and critique the text in a personal; way. This is a very big accomplishment for early readers. It is at this point where they are fully comprehending what they are reading and taking the words to a higher level. By doing this, students are applying these words to their own lives. By doing this the student is demonstrating their overall understanding of the text. To me this is the best form of assessment. When a student is able to informally tell you what they read, what they think and their opinion of the content. By having them do this they are demonstrating a full understanding of the story.
    To effectively teach literacy all three components discussed must be implemented to the fullest. This creates an overall understanding of what it means to be a reader.

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    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes that produce the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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