• Reading Instruction in Fauquier County Public Schools

    "All children deserve the opportunity to live literate lives."         

                                                          --Laura Robb, 2003

    1. We believe children learn to read by reading.  Therefore, in our classrooms . . .

         a. students are participating in authentic reading tasks, i. e., students are reading interesting, quality fiction and nonfiction and are being asked to respond to the selections in writing and in discussion rather than merely completing reading worksheets;

         b. students are reading a good portion of their school day.

    Research support:Amount of print exposure is a potent predictor of vocabulary growth, knowledge acquisition, and a host of other verbal skills” (Stanovich, 1994). “We know that readers get better at reading when they choose books they can and want to read” ( Harvey & Goudvis, 2000). “Even though most literacy instruction involves stories, expectations for children to be able to read, write, and learn from informational text are increasing as society has more access to a greater amount of information.  To be able to find, understand, evaluate, and synthesize information across a variety of sources requires more sophisticated reading and writing strategies for informational text than has been required in the past” (Kletzien & Dreher, 2004).

    2. We believe a student’s reading power improves when he/she reads for meaning at the appropriate challenge level.  Therefore, in our classrooms . . .

         a. teachers and librarians select appropriate reading material for students’ independent and small group reading time;

         b. primary teachers provide authentic literature, decodable texts, and predictable texts for beginning readers; c. teachers offer a balanced literacy program which includes (1) grade‐level readings that address curriculum goals and concepts and (2) instructional/independent level readings that closely match students’ reading levels.

    Research support: “Equity in literacy education means differentiating the level of materials so that each child has the same cognitive task . . . for students to learn, materials must be within their ‘zone of proximal development’ [Vygotsky]” (Gill, 1995). “ . . the research has well demonstrated the need for students to have instructional texts that they can read accurately, fluently, and with good comprehension is we hope to foster academic achievement” (Allington, 2001). “Enormous amounts of easy and interesting reading are absolutely essential to developing effective reading strategies, to say nothing of appropriate attitudes and responsibilities.   When children struggle with the material they are reading, they cannot apply the strategies that good readers use and do not develop the habits and attitudes that good readers do” (Allington, 1996).

    3. We believe that unless word identification is effortless and automatic, the reader cannot devote attention to constructing meaning while reading.  Therefore, in our classrooms . . .  

         a. students in the early grades engage in many phonological awareness tasks (e.g., asking or demonstrating:  “What word would be left if the /k/ sound were taken away from “cat”?);

         b. students learn about (and apply their knowledge of) the relationship between letters and sounds (phonics) and about word parts (i. e., structural analysis of words:  compounds words, plurals, prefixes and suffixes, etc.);

         c. teachers give students opportunities to discover how letters work in words through study of spelling patterns;

         d. teachers ensure that direct instruction in word study is coupled with reading meaningful text.

    Research support: “Students learn about words in supportive contexts where the concepts are neither too easy nor too hard.  This allows them to use their prior knowledge and to connect new understanding to old –in other words, to expand their knowledge o f how words work in the security of what they already know” ( Ganske, 2000). “Meaningful practice helps students internalize word features and become automatic in using what they have learned” (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, & Johnston, 2000). “Decoding and spelling abilities increase in direct proportion to the amount of successful reading and writing children do.  Word‐fluency activities in classrooms should include lots of writing and easy reading as well as word manipulation and sorting activities designed to help children learn common spelling patterns” (Allington, 1996).

    4. We believe children’s reading and writing abilities develop together.  Therefore, in our classrooms . . .

    a. students write every day for a variety of purposes;

    b. students write about what they have read;

    c. teachers use writing, including beginning writers’ temporary spellings, to assess students’ word knowledge.

    Research support: “Reading and writing are reciprocal processes.  As readers and writers engage in one of the processes, they learn about the other as well” ( DeFord, 1991). “When teachers do word study with students, they are addressing learning needs in all areas of literacy because development in one area relates to development in other areas.  This harmony in the timing of development has been described as the synchrony of reading, writing, and spelling development.  This means that development in one area is observed along with advances in other areas.  All three advance in stage‐like progressions which share important conceptual dimensions” (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, & Johnston, 2000).

    5. We believe proficient readers have strategies that they use to construct meaning before, during, and after reading.  Therefore, in our classrooms . . .  

    a. Students learn a variety of strategies to construct meaning, among them:

         • accessing prior knowledge

    • inferencing (making predictions, reaching conclusions)

    • monitoring (searching, checking, correcting); marking the text

    • using word recognition strategies (using sound‐letter relationships singly and in clusters)

    • learning about text structure

    • questioning (literal, inferential, and critical)

    • summarizing

    • synthesizing

    • using “fix‐up” strategies

    b. teachers explicitly teach these strategies in whole‐group and small‐group lessons.

    Research support: “Reading and writing are reciprocal processes.  As readers and writers engage in one of the processes, they learn about the other as well” (DeFord, 1991). “Reading is an interactive process in which good readers engage in a constant internal dialogue with the text.  The ongoing dialogue helps them understand and elaborate on what they read” (Zimmermann & Hutchins, 2003). “The accessing of prior knowledge coupled with predicting on unknown information are the most important factors in facilitating the comprehension of expository text.  Predictions by students serve to increase motivation, access schema, and develop purposes for reading” (Hammond, 1994).

    6. We believe modeling is an important form of classroom support for literacy learning.   Therefore, in our classrooms . . .  

    a. teachers read aloud to students regularly; b. teachers model different reading strategies and practices for students.

    Research support: “Written language is qualitatively different from oral language and that, through reading and being read to, readers and listeners are exposed to vocabulary that they would not likely encounter in oral language. . . . Through being read to, students can handle material that they may not be able to handle on their own and thus be exposed to even more sophisticated vocabulary” (Rasinski, 2003). “What we must do is show them [students] how skilled readers build meaning.  That means we must pull the invisible process of comprehension out to the visible level—and that suggests bringing conversation in to the classroom as students are reading.  That conversation needs to be about readers’ responses to what they are reading as well as how they are making the reading make sense” (Beers, 2003).

    7. We believe children who engage in daily discussion about what they read are more likely to become critical readers and learners.  Therefore, in our classrooms . . .

    a. teachers use activities that prompt students to think and talk about their reading;

    b. teachers connect literature and other texts with a variety of experience and prior knowledge (text to self, text to text, text to world).

    Research support: “Oral communication is extremely important in the classroom because it is not only a means of learning but a means of going about other types of learning. . . Children will learn to apply skills developed in listening and speaking to the other language arts and as a means of learning in the other language arts [reading and writing]” (Templeton, 1991). “When children have opportunities to share their thinking with peers, kids pay attention.   This joint thinking allows our students to learn from each other and enhances meaning for the whole group” (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000).

    8. We believe the most valuable form of reading assessment reflects our current understanding about the reading process and reading development and simulates authentic reading tasks.  

    Therefore, in our classrooms . . . a. teachers use a variety of methods/vehicles to assess students’ reading development and abilities: • observations ‐ ‐ watching and listening to students read‐ ‐ using checklists or running records • student writing • discussion that includes high‐level questioning and prompting (see #7 above) • word study inventories • pencil and paper tests/checks (cloze tests, etc.) • timed repeated readings for fluency   • online assessments of reading progress

    b. teachers use the results of formative assessments to inform and modify instructional practices;

    c. teachers share results of assessments with students so they can monitor their own progress.

    Research support: “Assessment serves a critical role in teacher decision making.  Teachers need to use a wide variety of assessment systems (and regularly check [the] students’ understanding) to know whether or not [the] instructional interventions, modifications, accommodations, and extensions are working” (Fisher & Frey, 2007). “. . . students can effectively monitor their own progress. Commonly, this takes the form of students’ simply keeping track of their performance as learning occurs” (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001).


    Allington, R. (2001). What really matters for struggling readers. New York: Addison‐Wesley   Educational Publishers, Inc.

    Allington, R, & Cunningham, P. (1996). Schools that work: where all children read and write.   New York: HarperCollins.

    Bear, D., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S. & Johnston, F. (2000). Words their way. Upper Saddle   River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    Beers, K. (2003). When kids can't read: What teachers can do. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.  

    DeFord, D. (1991). Bridges to literacy: Learning from reading recovery. Portsmouth, NH:   Heinemann.

    Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2007). Checking for understanding. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

    Ganske, K. (2000). Word journeys. New York: The Guilford Press.

    Gill, T. (1995). Lecture. “Effective literacy programs.” Administrative Workshop.    Warrenton, VA.  25 January 1995.

    Hammond, W. D. (1994). Lecture. “Nurturing comprehension across the curriculum:  The art of   asking the right questions.”  Reading Symposium.  Orlando, FL.  26 June 1994.

    Harvey,S., &  Goudvis, A.  (2000). Strategies that work. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

    Kletzien, S., & Dreher, M. (2004). Informational text in k‐3 classrooms. Newark, DE:   International Reading Assoc..

    Marzano, R., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom instruction that works.   Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

    Rasinski, T. (2003). The fluent reader. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.

    Robb, Laura. (2003). Literacy links. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Books.  

    Stanovich, K. (1994). Romance and reality. The Reading Teacher, 47(4), 280‐289.

    Templeton, S. (1991). Teaching the integrated language arts. Boston: Houghton‐Mifflin.

    Zimmermann, S., & Hutchins, C. (2003). 7 keys to comprehension. New York: Three Rivers Press.