Language and Literacy Programs 1. There is a significant difference between whole language programs and skills/objectives-based reading programs. The main distinguishing factor in these regards is that whole language programs proceed from a belief that language is most effectively learned by teaching an entire world…
113). Skills based instruction then can be viewed as a bottom-up approach to language instructions, whereas whole language operates more from a top-down approach. There is a convergence of these programs in an approach referred to as ‘balanced literacy’. As the name suggests this approach combines word based instruction, with phoneme based skill tasks. 2. Within the context of the debate between whole language and skills-based instruction the term “principled eclecticism” is a significant concern. In this way principled eclecticism refers to the combination of word based modes of language instruction with skills based modes of language instruction. This approach has also been referred to as balanced literacy. This approach combines the best features of the two models. One considers that word based instruction may more functionally contribute to reader fluency as they allow the reader to engage in full sentence interaction. In this way this approach is implemented at end of lessons or for more fluent readers. This is then balanced with skills-based modes of instruction. This approach is effectively implemented for complex word forms, as well as beginning of lesson instruction. 3. There are a number of elements to a balanced literacy program. While there are a multitude of elements, this research considers three prominent approaches. One approach is the implementation of summarizing. Summarizing is firmly rooted in the word based mode of language instruction as it necessitates that students implement a top-down process of reasoning in synthesizing information (McGregor, p. 60). Another prominent approach is teacher-modeling. While this approach can be implemented for whole word formations, it is more prominently implemented in breaking down words phonemes so learners can practice literacy (McGregor, p. 60). A final component of a balanced literacy program is making inferences. Making inferences occurs as students attempt to determine the meaning of a word from its position in the context of a sentence (McGregor, p. 60). This approach is a word based component of a balanced literacy program in that the student is attempting to determine meaning from a complete word, as well as a larger sentence structure. 4. The role of the principal is a crucial feature of an exemplary reading program. The exemplary reading program is structured so that students who achieve a level of competency for their progress are recognized for their achievement. In this way the principal becomes a significant contributing force. Oftentimes exemplary reading programs issue certificates or awards based on the student’s progress. The principal will then sign this certificate as a means of authenticating the process, or call the student up in front of the classroom or school (Miller, p. 10). In this context the principal represents a significant authority figure through which the recognition contributes both to the student’s motivating and overriding self-esteem. 5. There are a number of concerns in establishing a reading program. One prominent concern is the nature of the students involved in the instruction. Students come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds with a variety of skill levels. These factors influence the reading program as it may potentially be necessary to implement differentiated instruction in ...
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