Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 1990: Whole Language

Questions: What is the philosophy behind the whole language approach to literacy? What is the role of the teacher in a whole language classroom?

Answer/Quotes: “Do children really learn to read by reading and to write by writing? Is it enough to create an existing and literate environment (sic.) in the classroom bringing children and print together?” p. 548.

“Successful whole literacy teachers do not simply arrange an environment and allow the acquisition of literacy to happen. They mediate the learning process in often subtle, yet definite ways.” P. 551.

“Ms. Janzen had created the environment. She had filled her classroom with good literature—including books authored by children, meaningful print, hands-on projects, and exciting science experiments. She provided time daily for shared reading, for individual reading, for reading aloud to children, and for writing. She had created an environment in which she could kidwatch (Goodman, 19985) and mediate.” P. 548.

“Her entire concentration on this sound lasted less than 10 seconds. Edelsky (1987) has termed this type of information FYIs—For Your Information. An FYI is information presented briefly at a time when it is relevant to the needs of the children.” P. 549.

Comment: Well, there you have it—the rationale for whole language which, in the late 1980s and early1990s became the runaway wildfire reform for teaching reading without the basal reader. You will excuse me if it sounds to one who was not an early elementary teacher, chaotic, frenetic and unsystematic. The role of the teacher in the whole literacy classroom is to “kidwatch” and to use FYIs when needed by the young students. Record keeping of just what had been taught to whom, not to mention recognizing the need for reinforcement, had to tax the strength and endurance of already frazzled elementary teachers. RayS.

Title: “Teacher Mediation in One Whole Literacy Classroom.” Claire F. Staab. Reading Teacher (April 1990),pp. 548-552.

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