August 28, 2015

5 Pillars of a Strong Reading Program

 Reading StrategiesA comprehensive balanced literacy approach addresses reading, writing, and word work. Successful implementation requires careful planning using a backward design model to ensure that teaching matches desired learning outcomes.

There is a plethora of research, including the National Reading Panel’s findings and recommendations, supporting that a strong reading program provides explicit instruction and practice within all 5 pillars:

  1. Comprehension–ability to make meaning from print using background knowledge, making predictions, making connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world), and making inferences.
  2. Vocabulary–instruction and repeated contact with vocabulary words is important to the continued development of reading comprehension and fluency. Vocabulary instruction can also serve as a springboard for meaningful word study.
  3. Phonemic awareness–awareness of the sounds that make up spoken words. There are 2 levels of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the more advanced level and is characterized by a sensitivity to large units of sound such as words, syllables, and syllable parts (onset and rime). According to the National Reading Panel, the 2 phonemic awareness skills that have the greatest impact on learning to read are segmenting and blending.
  4. Phonics–a way of teaching beginning reading and spelling that emphasizes the relationship between letters and sounds.
  5. Fluency and expressiveness–ability to read orally with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. There are two instructional approaches usually used to practice reading: guided repeated oral reading and independent silent reading. The National Reading Panel determined that guided repeated oral reading has a significant and positive impact on word recognition, reading fluency, and comprehension for students of all ages.

Reading and writing are intertwined processes and both have their foundation in oral language development. As students learn about reading, their writing improves and vise versa. To become successful reading and writers, young children, even preschoolers, need to have lots of experience with oral language, phonological awareness, alphabetic principle, concepts about print, and comprehension.

This video provides examples of whole group balanced literacy instruction in a primary classroom.

Five Pillars of Reading Literacy from Laura B. Dahl on Vimeo.

By Brad Hoffman, CEO and Founder
Educational Consultant, PreK-12
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  1. Tutoring Match says:

    Understanding and appreciation of reading and writing starts at an early age. That’s why it’s important to introduce reading to children before they are even able to read themselves.

  2. What a great video! It’s an excellent example of a balanced literacy program in a first grade classroom.
    We see an example of a guided reading group, where each child in a group is reading the same text, but I also want to add that ideally there would be strategy groups as well. These differ from guided reading groups because the students in the small group may not necessarily be reading the same text (in fact they will likely be reading texts at different levels). The teacher would be teaching them the same strategy, to practice with the individual texts they are reading at their own levels. The strategy is introduced and modeled by the teacher while the group observes, and then the students practice this strategy while the teacher moves from student to student, scaffolding the use of that strategy for each child.
    I would love to see more videos of balanced literacy in other grade levels, as well, because it does look different.

  3. I really enjoyed this video. I thought the teacher really had a wonderful way of interacting with her students and had such good learning going on in her classroom.

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