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9.1R: Ability to support and reinforce the instruction of students in reading following written and oral lesson plans developed by licensed teachers.
Progression of Reading Skills: K-12
The acquisition of knowledge is like building a pyramid: First, a foundation is set which supports the building of further knowledge. From the earliest stages, the scope and sequence of a reading curriculum calls upon what has already been learned as it prepares for what is to be learned. When, what, and how teachers teach is largely determined by what we know of students’ psychological and emotional development.
It is often assumed that reading instruction begins the first day of kindergarten with the alphabet. However, before children are formally taught to read, they exhibit behaviors that are related to reading. You may have heard of the term reading readiness. This refers to those skills and behaviors of emergent readers and writers—young learners who are just on the verge of becoming literate. As early as the toddler stage, reading readiness plays a big role children’s literacy development. For example, exposure to stories and books, attention to individual letter sounds and names, and learning to spell one’s own name are all part of the process of learning to read. During this stage, typically between ages 2 and 4, a child’s vocabulary can increase from 200 words to 2,000! However, students come to the classroom from diverse cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds, and these and other factors may affect the vocabulary development of an individual student. The list below gives you examples of skills and behaviors that are part of reading readiness before the first grade. As a paraprofessional working with young readers, it is important to be aware of the characteristics of emergent readers so that you can better recognize the skills students are equipped with in learning to read. Knowing about reading readiness allows you to recognize your students as moving along the reading-readiness continuum rather than simply as readers or non-readers.
Listed below are some of the skills children acquire before kindergarten that are part of reading readiness. Children may exhibit some behaviors more than others, but it is important to recognize the foundation that they are building for future reading. A student with reading-readiness skills:
Students come to school with varying degrees of reading readiness. Kindergarten is the time when those reading readiness skills are expanded upon more formally, and phonics instruction is introduced. At this time, students are also developing an appreciation of stories, books, and learning through exposure to diverse and interesting literature. As students become more comfortable and confident with their alphabetic and phonemic awareness, they are ready to work on phonemes -- the sounds of the English language -- and morpheme, or word recognition. The first grade builds on the earlier reading readiness and phonics skills and expands students’ reading ability to include full sentences, paragraphs, and books. At the same time that students are delving into their favorite books and gathering information from texts, they are also learning grammatical rules of the English language. An understanding of these rules allows students to become more proficient readers and writers.
Kindergarten through second grade is primarily when explicit reading skills are taught. At this time, students are usually at a developmental stage when they can accept the abstract concept of reading. In other words, students learn that the letter-symbols k, i, t, and e represents the object kite (Woolfolk, 2002). It is the hope and the goal of every first grade teacher that all the students will finish the school year as readers. While there is hope for non-readers and emergent readers at any stage, teachers and developmental psychologists agree that the critical period for learning this skill is somewhere between age 5 and 7.
With their literacy skills advancing, children are ready to expand their school and learning experiences. From elementary through high school and beyond, reading enters all areas of the curriculum. Students shift from learning to read to reading to learn. It is somewhere between ages 7 and 11 that children move further away from egocentrism and are better able to absorb the viewpoints of others (Woolfolk, 2002). This is a great time to tackle more complex reading comprehension tasks. As students develop psychologically, literature plays a key role in their ability to reason and to think critically. Texts are introduced which challenge students’ beliefs, offer new perspectives, and allow them to evaluate information.
Reading, as a subject taught in school, encompasses much more than the decoding of chunks of letters across a page. As students mature as individuals and as readers, instruction focuses more on the quality and diversity of reading material as well as the critical thinking skills needed to expand upon material in the text. In middle- and high-school curriculum, the content, quality, and diversity of reading and writing assignments intensifies. Students in high school apply and expand their critical thinking skills, experiences, knowledge of the conventions and genres of reading and writing, and their appreciation for language arts while learning how to discuss these concepts among a group of peers or in a formal presentation. Students are also encouraged to think hypothetically, as well as tackle complex real and theoretical problems (CFL, 2003).
In this way the reading curriculum builds upon itself through the primary and secondary grades. Each year provides scaffolding in support of the next year’s curricula and so on. Knowing where students have come from and where they are headed can help you, as a paraprofessional, build upon students’ existing knowledge and skill base while anticipating what they will need to know next.
Information for this unit was gathered, in part, from the following resources:
Minnesota Department of Children, Families, & Learning (CFL). State curriculum standards. Retrieved March 31, 2003, from http://www.education.state.mn.us
Woolfolk, A. (2002). Educational Psychology (8th ed., pp. 30-32).Needham Heights, MA., Pearson Education Co.
World Book Encyclopedia online. Retrieved February 22, 2003, from http://www.worldbook.com/