The overall purpose for literacy instruction should be comprehension. Regardless of the purpose for reading, students should be reading for meaning and understanding. I recently read Sharon Taberski’s book Comprehension from the Ground Up in which she describes the essentials for an effective reading program in the early grades. Throughout the book she gives great suggestions for literacy programs, but in the beginning she mentioned three things every literacy program needs. Those three things include giving students time to read, time to write, and time to talk.
Why Students Need Time to Read
When we think about literacy instruction, how much time are we spending talking to students about reading versus actually giving them opportunities to read. Giving students time to read will increase their vocabulary, background knowledge, and fluency. It helps them to find the joy in reading. Studies have shown that students who read more, read better.
How to Give Your Students Time to Read
Allowing independent reading time in your classroom is a great method to get kids to read more. Effective independent reading time is often accompanied with teacher feedback given through mini conferences. During these conferences, you can discuss book choice, reading strategies, vocabulary, and you can ensure students are understanding their books.
Guided Reading Groups and Literature Circles are also methods of getting books in students hands. Guided reading groups tend to be more teacher led and literature circles are more student led, however, both give students opportunities to read.
Why Students Need Time to Write
Students need to be able to express their ideas and thoughts. Having the ability to write well is a life skill that students will need. It’s important to realize that reading and writing are closely related and we can’t teach one without the other.
How to Give Your Students Time to Write
Allow your students to write about what they are reading. This can include writing summaries, notes, opinionated responses, or writing letters to the characters or the authors.
Create a writing workshop for your students to formulated their own writing pieces. This is also a time to teach them the writing process. Motivate your students with a publication party in which they share their writings with classmates and other adults in your school.
Why Students Need Time to Talk
In order to assist students in literacy, they need time to participate in meaningful discussions about what they’re reading. Along with writing and reading, talking allows students to develop vocabulary, new ideas, and learn new perspectives.
How to Give Your Students Time to Talk
When planning an interactive read aloud have higher thinking discussion questions prepared so students can turn and talk to each other about the question. Encourage students to respond to one another instead of just responding to you. Teach them accountable talk and allow them to lead the discussion. It’s ok to not control their discussion as long as it’s appropriate and on task.
Why Read This Book
As teachers it’s important that we never stop learning. Comprehension from the Ground Up by Sharon Taberski gives teachers specific instructional strategies to help younger students. Her book includes sample lessons, book suggestions, and helpful tips and tricks. Her suggestions for Reading Workshops are feasible for every classroom and I believe teachers would find this book very helpful in their facilitation of literacy learning.