Methodology

1.Testing and assessment:

All that you should know about testing and assessment ….

2. Test writing

What you need to know to write and administer tests..

3. Reading:

Some clarification about some reading techniques ….

4. Teaching mixed-ability class 1:

Understand better you classes…

5. Teaching mixed-ability class 2

And more understanding…

6. Teaching large classes

How easy or hard is to teach lots of kids?

7. Teaching small classes

How easy or hard is to teach few kids?

8. Methodology and teaching:

A method of how to use texts…

9. What is Reading Comprehension?

10. Fostering Reading Comprehension

11. The Five Essential Components of Reading

12. The Relationship Between Reading and Writing

13. Vocabulary Basics

14. Effective Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary

The Five Essential Components of Reading

Reading is an astoundingly complex cognitive process. While we often think of reading as one singular act, our brains are actually engaging in a number of tasks simultaneously each time we sit down with a book. There are five aspects to the process of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension and fluency. These five aspects work together to create the reading experience. As children learn to read they must develop skills in all five of these areas in order to become successful readers.

Phonics is the connection between sounds and letter symbols. It is also the combination of these sound-symbol connections to create words. Without phonics, words are simply a bunch of squiggles and lines on a page. If you think about it, letters are arbitrary. There is nothing innately bed-like about the written word “bed”. It is simply the collection of letters and corresponding sounds that we agree constitute the word “bed”. Learning to make that connection between the individual sounds that each letter represents and then putting those together is essential to understanding what that funny squiggle means.

There are a number of ways that phonics can be taught because there is a variety of ways to apply this aspect when reading. Each approach allows the reader to use phonics to read and learn new words in a different way. Synthetic phonics builds words from the ground up. In this approach readers are taught to first connect letters to their corresponding phonemes (sound units) and then to blend those together to create a word. Analytic phonics, on the other hand, approaches words from the top down. A word is identified as a whole unit and then its letter-sound connections are parsed out. Analogy phonics uses familiar parts of words to discover new words. Finally, phonics through spelling focuses on connecting sounds with letters in writing. All of these approaches can be taught and used independently or in combination to help young readers learn to identify new words.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is closely related to phonics because both involve the connection between sounds and words. While phonics is the connection between sounds and letters, phonemic awareness is the understanding that words are created from phonemes (small units of sound in language). These may seem like the same thing, but there is a subtle difference in the two. Phonics is used only in written language because it involves letters. Phonemes are sounds only. While they can be represented using letters, they can also be simply the auditory sounds of words. Phonemes are most often learned before a child begins to read because they are centered on the sounds of language rather than written words.

Just like phonics, phonemic awareness can be taught and used in a number of ways. Phoneme isolation involves the reader parsing out the individual sounds in a word in order to determine its meaning. Similarly, phoneme segmentation asks the reader to break words into their corresponding phonemes (which may involve one or more individual sounds) to figure out the new word. Both of these approaches are very similar to synthetic phonics. Phoneme identification relies on the reader’s general knowledge of phonemes (usually developed through speaking) to identify sound patterns in words. For example a reader would identify the phoneme /d/ he knows from the words “dog” and “dad” to help him learn how to read a new word “doctor”. Finally, phoneme blending requires the reader to connect a series of phonemes together to create a word. This strategy is always used in conjunction with one of the others.

Vocabulary

In order to read words we must first know them. Imagine how frustrating and fruitless it would be to read this article if all of the words were unfamiliar to you. As children become stronger, more advanced readers they not only learn to connect their oral vocabularies (the words we know when they are spoken) to their reading vocabularies (the words we know when they are used in print) they also strengthen each of these areas by adding new words to their repertoires. Vocabulary development is an ongoing process that continues throughout one’s “reading life”.

There are two primary ways of teaching and learning new vocabulary words. The first is explicit instruction. This involves someone telling you how a word is pronounced and what its meaning is. That “someone” might be a teacher, a dictionary, a vocabulary guide or any other resource offering definitions and pronunciations. Context clues provide another method for discovering new words. Context clues are the “hints” contained in a text that help a reader figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word. They include other words in a sentence or paragraph, text features (ie. bold print, italics), illustrations, graphs and charts. Context clues are basically any item in the text that points to the definition of a new word.

Fluency

Fluency is a reader’s ability to read with speed, accuracy and expression. Thus it requires him to combine and use multiple reading skills at the same time. While fluency is most often measured through oral readings, good readers also exhibit this skill when they are reading silently. Think about the way a book “sounds” in your mind when you are reading silently. You “hear” the characters “speak” with expression. Even passages that are not written in dialogue “sound” as if the words fit the meaning. A particularly suspenseful action sequence moves quickly through your mind creating a palpable sense of tension. Your ability to move through a piece of text at a fluid pace while evoking the meaning and feeling of it demonstrates your fluency.

Fluency is intimately tied to comprehension. A reader must be able to move quickly enough through a text to develop meaning. If he is bogged down reading each individual word, he is not able to create an overall picture in his mind of what the text is saying. Even if the reader is able to move rapidly through a text, if she cannot master the expression associated with the words, the meaning of it will be lost.

Reading Comprehension (view articles about Reading Comprehension)

Comprehension is what most people think reading is. This is because comprehension is the main reason why we read. It is the aspect of reading that all of the others serve to create. Reading comprehension is understanding what a text is all about. It is more than just understanding words in isolation. It is putting them together and using prior knowledge to develop meaning.

Reading comprehension is the most complex aspect of reading. It not only involves all of the other four aspects of reading, it also requires the reader to draw upon general thinking skills. When a reader is actively engaged with a text, she is asking and answering questions about the story and summarizing what she has read. Like vocabulary, reading comprehension skills develop and improve over time through instruction and practice.

The Relationship Between Reading and Writing

For many years reading and writing were (and sometimes still are) taught separately. Though the two have almost always been taught by the same person (the English/Language Arts teacher) during the Language Arts period or block, educators rarely made explicit connections between the two for their students. Over the last ten years research has shown that reading and writing are more interdependent than we thought. The relationship between reading and writing is a bit like that of the chicken and egg. Which came first is not as important as the fact that without one the other cannot exist. A child’s literacy development is dependent on this interconnection between reading and writing.

Basically put: reading affects writing and writing affects reading. According to recommendations from the major English/Language Arts professional organizations, reading instruction is most effective when intertwined with writing instruction and vice versa. Research has found that when children read extensively they become better writers. Reading a variety of genres helps children learn text structures and language that they can then transfer to their own writing. In addition, reading provides young people with prior knowledge that they can use in their stories. One of the primary reasons that we read is to learn. Especially while we are still in school, a major portion of what we know comes from the texts we read. Since writing is the act of transmitting knowledge in print, we must have information to share before we can write it. Therefore reading plays a major role in writing.

At the same time practice in writing helps children build their reading skills. This is especially true for younger children who are working to develop phonemic awareness and phonics skills. Phonemic awareness (the understanding that words are developed from sound “chunks”) develops as children read and write new words. Similarly, phonics skills or the ability to link sounds together to construct words are reinforced when children read and write the same words. For older children practice in the process of writing their own texts helps them analyze the pieces that they read. They can apply their knowledge about the ways that they chose to use particular language, text structure or content to better understand a professional author’s construction of his or her texts.

Harnessing the Reading-Writing Relationship to Help Children Learn

Simply knowing that reading and writing are intimately connected processes isn’t enough. In order to help children develop these two essential skills, parents and teachers need to apply this knowledge when working with them. Here are a few strategies for using reading and writing to reinforce development of literacy skills.

Genre Study

One of the most effective ways to use the relationship between reading and writing to foster literacy development is by immersing children in a specific genre. Parents and teachers should identify a genre that is essential to a grade level’s curriculum or is of particular interest to a child or group of children. They should then study this genre with the child(ren) from the reading and writing perspectives. Children should read and discuss with adults high quality examples of works written in the genre focusing on its structure and language as well as other basic reading skills including phonics and comprehension. Once children have studied the genre to identify its essential elements, they should be given opportunities to write in the genre. As they are writing, adults should help them apply what they have learned from reading genre specific texts to guide their composition. This process should be recursive to allow children to repeatedly move between reading and writing in the genre. In the end children will not only have a solid and rich knowledge of the genre, but will also have strengthened their general reading and writing skills.

Reading to Develop Specific Writing Skills

Parents and teachers do not have to engage in an extensive genre study to foster their children’s reading and writing abilities. Texts can be used on limited basis to help children learn and strengthen specific writing skills. Parents and teachers should first identify writing skills that a particular child or group of children need support in developing. For example, many students in a seventh grade class might have difficulty writing attention getting introductions in their essays. One of the most effective ways to help children build specific writing skills is to show and discuss with them models that successfully demonstrate the skill. Adults should select a number of texts where the authors “nail” the area that they want to help their children grow in. For our sample seventh graders we’d want to find several pieces of writing with strong, engaging introductions and read and analyze these with the students. Once children have explored effective models of the skill, they should be given opportunities to practice it. They can either write new pieces or revise previous pieces of writing emulating the authors’ techniques.

Integrating “Sound” Instruction in Reading and Writing

Phonemic awareness and phonics are two of the pillars of reading. Without understanding the connection between sounds and letters, a person cannot read. The connection between reading and writing can help solidify these skills in young readers. Parents and teachers should help children “sound out” words in both their reading and writing. When a child comes to a word in their reading that is unfamiliar, the adult(s) working with her can model or guide her in sounding out the word using knowledge of phonemes (sound “chunks”). Similarly, if a child wants to write a new word the adult(s) can use the same technique to help her choose which letters to write. If the child is younger, accurate spelling is not as important as an understanding of the connection between particular sounds and letters. Therefore helping the child pick letters that approximate the spelling is more appropriate than providing him with the actual spelling. If the child is older and has an understanding of some of the unique variations in the English language (such as silent “e”), the parent or teacher should encourage him to use that knowledge to come up with the spelling of the word.

Choice in Reading and Writing

Another effective method for using the relationship between reading and writing to foster literacy development is simply giving children the choice in their reading and writing experiences. We learn best when we are motivated. If children are always told exactly what to read and what to write, they will eventually either come to see reading and writing as impersonal events or will “shut down”. Often in classrooms, teachers allow children to select their own books to read during independent reading time, but they rarely give them the opportunity to pick their own writing topics. In order to encourage ownership over their reading and writing, children should be given chances to read and write what is interesting and important to them.

Talk About It!

While it may seem like common sense to adults that reading and writing have a lot to do with each other, the connection is not always as apparent to young people. Parents and teachers should explain how the two skills reinforce and strengthen each other. Young people (especially adolescents) often ask their parents and teachers, “Why do I have to learn this?” Here is a perfect opportunity to show the relationship between two essential academic and life skills.

Reading

The reading material consists of bubbles, short dialogues, longer conversations, passages of various lengths, leaflets, brochures, timetables, menus, tickets, signs, travel programmes, ads and notices. This wide range of reading materials aims at an absolute exposure to authentic text-types.  The aim of this variety is developing reading strategies and skills. So the ultimate objective is that you will be able to read and understand a text either at school or in your daily life.
At school, Reading is about reading a text (of any type mentioned above) to answer questions related to the text or what we call Reading Comprehension. And understand its meaning and the way of dealing with it.
There are many activities that can be dealt with during the reading comprehension such as:

  1. Skimming (identifying main ideas).
  2. Scanning (locating specific information).
  3. Understanding vocabulary in context, finding synonyms and opposites.
  4. Discovering the organization of a text (introduction, conclusion, paragraphs, and linkers).
  5. Contextual reference (referring back to a word mentioned in the reading and understanding its referent).
  6. True / False statement either to justify or correct.
  7. Multiple choice alternatives (choose the right answer or alternative).
  8. Questions to answer.
  9. Scrambles paragraphs to rearrange.
  10. Completion of statements.
  11. Table completion.
  12. Word building (finding nouns/adjectives/verbs that have the same meaning as the ones indicated).

So where you read something for the sake of Reading (you read the text just for pleasure, you don’t have any purpose behind reading it), you don’t have to think about these activities (type of questions). But if you are reading a text for a purpose, then you will obliged to answer some of these questions in order to understand the text.