web analytics
May 25, 2015 / 7 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Simplifying The Reading Wars


Schonfeld-logo1

Several years ago, during the height of the balanced literacy controversy in New York City, I wrote about the different approaches to reading. With some more years of research and hands-on experience, I would like to revisit this integral topic: How do children learn to read?

Basically, there are three approaches to teaching children how to read: phonics, whole language, and balanced literacy. Let’s examine each one to understand the full benefits and disadvantages of each.

PHONICS

What is phonics?

Phonics is the system of relationships between letters and sounds in a language. When a kindergartener learns that the letter B has the sound of /b/ and a second-grader learns that “tion” sounds like /shun/, they are learning phonics.

What are the benefits and drawbacks?

Learning phonics will help your students learn to read and spell. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of letters and letter combinations will help your students decode words as they read. Knowing phonics will also help your students know which letters to use as they write words.

If students do not master the different phonemes, they will be unable to attain fluency, comprehension, higher vocabulary, or appropriate spelling (four essential skills developed in later levels of reading). When the rest of the class moves onto these later skills, your child might be lost if he has not mastered the phonemes appropriate for each grade level.

In addition, the National Reading Panel, composed of experts in fields of literacy was asked by the United States Congress to examine the research on the teaching of reading. What they found had important implications for phonics: they determined the phonics is an essential ingredient in beginning reading instruction and without systematic and explicit phonics instruction, students will significantly lag behind their peers. Interestingly, the panel also found that phonics most benefits children who are experiencing difficulty learning to read.

Children who learn phonics will, however, need to master many of the sounds before they can read whole sentences. This can be frustrating and discouraging to early readers.

WHOLE LANGUAGE

What is whole language instruction?

As opposed to learning different sounds in order to piece together full words, the whole language system believes in immediately attracting children to reading by giving them an early grasp of printed language through a “sight” vocabulary of memorized words and phrases.

What are the benefits and drawbacks?

These memorized words give students a sense of accomplishment when they open simple books and are able to read whole sentences. One drawback of the whole language system, however, is that students are not provided with the skills to decode new words that they encounter. Unlike phonics learners, whole language learners continue to need experienced readers to teach them new words.

BALANCED LITERACY

The Balanced Literacy program is based heavily on the whole language approach. Robert Kolker in New York magazine explained that Balanced Literacy “operates on the presumption that breaking down words distracts kids, even discourages them, from growing up to become devoted readers. Instead, students in a Balanced Literacy program get their pick of books almost right away—real books, not Dick and Jane readers, with narratives that are meant to speak to what kids relate to, whether it’s dogs or baseball or friendship or baby sisters.” This approach, therefore, rejects textbooks and traditional grammar drills and instead stocks classroom with age appropriate books.

School Chancellor Joel Klein justified his support for the Balanced Literacy by revealing that the only reason he did well in school and became a federal prosecutor, was because an elementary school gave him a book about baseball. When he read that book and enjoyed it, it inspired him to continue to read and succeed in school. With that in mind, he implemented the Balanced Literacy program in nearly all of New York City’s 743 elementary schools.

Balanced Literacy and Controversy

One obvious benefit of Balanced Literacy is students’ immediate love of reading. In contrast, there are many who argue that in the long run Balanced Literacy is not the most effective way to teach students to read.

Detractors from the Balanced Literacy program point out that the system has no set curriculum and operates on a teacher-by-teacher basis. In May 2004, in the English Journal, Greg Hamilton from Columbia University points out that the program only works when there is a multitude of in-service support for teachers. In schools where there are lead teachers, principals who monitor teachers’ progress, and consistent training, the Balanced Literacy program has been succeeding.

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Simplifying The Reading Wars”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Former Israel Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold.
Bibi Seals Nationalist Policy with Dore Gold Heading Foreign Ministry
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

Respler-052215

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks of intense learning in the classroom about Israel culminated with Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Students attended sessions with their teachers and learned about history, culture, military power, advocacy, slang, cooking, and more.

The nations of the world left the vessel to sit rotting in the water during one of the coldest winters in decades and with its starving and freezing passengers abandoned.

Rabbi Yisroel Edelman, the synagogue’s spiritual leader, declared, “The Young Israel of Deerfield Beach is looking forward to our partnership with the OU. The impact the OU has brought to Jewish communities throughout the country through its outreach and educational resources is enormous and we anticipate the same for our community in Deerfield Beach as well.”

Our goal here is to offer you recipes that you can make on Yom Tov with ingredients you might just have in the house. Enjoy and chag sameach!

Gardening can be a healthy, wholesome activity for the whole family.

Unfortunately, the probability is that he will not see a reason to change as he has been acting this way for a long time and clearly has some issues with respecting women.

All of these small changes work their way into the framework of the elephant and the rider because they are helping the elephant move forward.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

Schonfeld-logo1

All of these small changes work their way into the framework of the elephant and the rider because they are helping the elephant move forward.

While indecision can stop you in your tracks, it’s important to point out that it’s not always bad.

How do we ensure that our students aren’t studying for the grade or the end-of-the-year pizza party? How can we get them to truly want to learn for learning’s sake?

But Pi Day is worst of all
I want the extra credit bad
But trying to remember many numbers
makes me sad.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

She wasn’t paying attention to what the child did when the mother was not in the room. Rather, her main focus was on what the child did when the mother returned.

When any student in the building is in danger of failing, the equivalent of tornado warning sirens should wail around the school.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/simplifying-the-reading-wars/2013/04/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: