Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Ch. 1: Becoming an Effective Literacy Teacher

Principle 5: Effective Teachers Address Standards

The Common Core Standards state what students should be learning by the time they are done with each specific grade level from K-12. The standards don’t state how topics need to be taught or state where each student should be by the end of each grade level. The Common Core Standards cover topics like Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language, and Media and Technology.

For reading and writing the standards get more complex each grade level. The students are expected to do research to answer questions and solve problems.

Principle 6: Effective Teachers Scaffold Students’ Reading and Writing

Scaffolding is when a teacher works with students of a skill that they cannot yet do by themselves, as the students improve their skills the teacher’s help is not needed as much until the students are able to do the skill unassisted. There are five levels of scaffolding: modeled, shared, interactive, guided and independent.

  • Modeled Reading and Writing: Teachers do this by reading aloud to students so they can hear what it sounds like to be a fluent reader or by modeling how to write a letter.
  • Shared Reading and Writing: Shared reading is very common in younger classrooms, the teacher has a book that he/she reads most of the book to students and students can participate during repeated lines or rhyming words or phrases. This can also be done with chapter books for older students where the teacher reads aloud and the students follow along with their own books. For shared writing, primary grade teachers use Language Experience Approach which is where the teacher writes what a students may tell them to write about a picture they are drawing. Older students may make KWL charts together. Sharing is different from modeling because the student is participating instead of just watching.
  • Interactive Reading and Writing: With interactive reading and writing, the students are now starting to take a larger role because they are actively involved in their learning. Choral reading is one way students can do interactive reading. Choral reading is when students take turns reading. Students can also do readers theatre where each student reads a different role. For interactive writing, students and teachers write together on chart paper or somewhere that the whole group will be able to see.
  • Guided Reading and Writing: Now the students are doing the reading and writing by themselves but the teacher is still around for support. Teachers may use minilessons to do this. Minilessons are where a teacher teaches a lesson with strategies or skills and then provides practice work for the students. The teacher is there to supervise the students to see what they have learned or may need more help with. For guided writing, teachers observe students during writing activities. Teachers can also provide feedback to students as they write.
  • Independent Reading and Writing: Students do the work on their own using the strategies they learned throughout the scaffolding process. They choose the books they want to read and what they want to write about and work at their own pace. The teacher is still around for students if they need help.

Principle 7: Effective Teachers Organize for Instruction

There are many different ways of instruction to create a balanced literacy curriculum. Instructional programs create a community of learners, incorporate a balanced approach, and scaffold students reading and writing. Some of these instructional programs include guided reading, basal reading programs, literature focus units, literature circles, and reading and writing workshops.

  • Guided Reading: Guided reading has personalized instruction and helps to meet students’ individual needs. The teacher meets with a small group of students who are at the same reading level for a teacher lead lessons. These lessons include word-identification and comprehension. Comprehension is the most important part because we don’t just read to hear words but to understand what is happening in a book. Guided reading is mainly used for kindergarten through third grade but can be adapted to older students who struggle with reading too.
  • Basal Reading Programs: These programs are commercially produced using textbooks with workbooks, supplemental books, and related instructional materials at each grade level. This is taught to the whole class and then small groups or individual students can be pulled aside if extra help is needed.
  • Literature Focus Units: Teachers pick high-quality books and novels from a list of books that students are expected to read by a certain grade level and create units that focus on these stories. The whole class reads the same book and the teacher support the students through instruction and reading and writing activities.
  • Literature Circles: The teacher selects five or six books at different reading levels to accommodate all of the students in the classroom. The books usually have the same genre or author. The teacher introduces the books to the students, then the students choose the book that they want and form a group with those that chose the same book. The students set up a reading and discussion schedule where everyone gets a different role. The students do all of the work independently but the teacher is around to hear discussions.
  • Reading and Writing Workshops: The students read or write independently and then meet with the teacher about what they read or wrote. Most students work independently but the teacher may meet with a small group. The teacher may also teach a lesson about reading and writing strategies or read books aloud to the whole class.

We also need to nurture English Learners. This can be done by teaching all students the same lessons and creating a classroom that respects all cultures and needs. Teachers need to spend more time and instruction with English Learners. Teachers provide more opportunities for speaking the language. Teachers offer students the opportunity to work in small groups so they can learn from classmates. Also, the teacher can read aloud to students so they can hear the language.

Principle 8: Effective Teachers Differentiate Instruction

Teachers need to use differentiation or change their instruction depending on the students developmental and academic needs. Instruction can’t be too easy or too difficult because then the students won’t learn. Teachers need to make sure they differentiate the content they teach, the process in which they teach, and how the students show what they’ve learned.

Principle 9: Effective Teachers Link Instruction and Assessment

Assessment it a very important part of learning. Assessment isn’t just standardized tests, but seeing what the students are capable of doing on a daily basis. Teachers collect data by observations, conferences, and classroom tests. Assessments lead to what the students know and should be learning next. There are four steps to linking instruction and assessment:

  1. Planning: Teachers use what they know about the students such as their reading level to plan what they are going to teach next.
  2. Monitoring: Teachers need to monitor what they are teaching to make sure their instruction is effective and make modifications as needed.
  3. Evaluating: Teachers then evaluate the students by using rubrics and checklists for reading and writing activities.
  4. Reflecting: Teachers evaluate their teaching and analyze how they could make improvements to their lessons.

There are many different types of assessment; observations, running records, and rubrics are just a few. Running records are a type of assessment where the teacher is observing a child and constantly writing what the student is doing or saying. This can then be put in a portfolio to see how the student is progressing. Rubrics assess the student’s performance by marking how they did on an assignment to project. Assessments should help the teacher to better plan for future lessons.

All information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

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