A Closer Look At The Five Essential Components Of .

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A Closer Look at the Five EssentialComponents of Effective ReadingInstruction: A Review ofScientifically Based ReadingResearch for Teachers20041120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200Naperville, IL 60563-1486800-356-2735 y 630-649-6500www.learningpt.orgCopyright 2004 Learning Point Associates. All rights reserved.This work was originally produced in whole or in part by Learning Point Associates with funds from the U.S.Department of Education under contract number ED-01-CO-0046/0001. The content does not necessarily reflect theposition or policy of the Department of Education, nor does mention or visual representation of trade names,commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the federal government.Learning Point Associates is a trademark of Learning Point Associates.1605R 2004

IntroductionFive Essential Components of Effective Reading InstructionHow can we teach all children to read accurately, rapidly, and with comprehension by the endof third grade? The National Reading Panel Report provides an answer to this question.The National Reading Panel Report (National Institute of Child Health and HumanDevelopment [NICHD], 2000) summarized several decades of scientific research that clearlyshows effective reading instruction addresses five critical areas: Phonemic awareness Phonics Fluency Vocabulary ComprehensionThese five areas were incorporated into the No Child Left Behind Act and the Reading Firstinitiative as essential components of effective reading instruction.There are many approaches to teaching these five essential components. These approachesdiffer in how much guidance or direction teachers provide as their students are learning newskills, how clearly and directly teachers explain new skills, whether they demonstrate exactlyhow to use a specific skill, and whether the skills are taught in a thoughtful sequence. Scientificresearch reviewed by the National Reading Panel revealed that these different approaches ormethods of teaching the five essential components are not equally effective. The most reliablyeffective approach is called systematic and explicit instruction.Systematic instruction reflects several important characteristics. Skills and concepts are taught ina planned, logically progressive sequence. For example, certain sounds (those that are easier tolearn or those used more often in the words students will read) are taught before other sounds.Lessons focus on clearly defined objectives that are stated in terms of what students will do.Multiple practice activities are scheduled purposefully to help students master and retain newskills. Students work on carefully designed tasks that give them opportunities to apply whatthey have been taught. Assessments are designed and used in a timely fashion to monitor skillacquisition as well as students’ ability to apply new skills, to retain them over time, and to usethem independently.Effective Reading Instruction? 1

Explicit instruction means the teacher states clearly what is being taught and models effectivelyhow it is used by a skilled reader. For example, in demonstrating how to blend sounds topronounce an unfamiliar word, explicit instruction might sound like this: “I’ll show you how tosound out this word. Listen carefully. I’ll say the sound for each letter without stoppingbetween the sounds.” Explicit instruction ensures students’ attention is drawn to importantfeatures of an example or demonstration.Scientifically Based Reading ResearchThe conclusions of the National Reading Panel were based on a synthesis of research studiesthat met established criteria that define scientifically based reading research (NICHD, 2000). Tobe described as scientifically based, research findings or conclusions must be drawn fromstudies that used an experimental design to test the effectiveness of a teaching strategy or set ofmaterials in improving one or more of the essential skills involved in reading. Further, thesestudies had to use samples of students who represented the larger population, so the findingswould be relevant to schools. The studies had to be repeated, or replicated, to build confidencethat the findings were solid, and not likely to be mere chance. Finally, the research had to bejudged as sound and worthwhile by reading experts other than the studies’ authors.The use of instructional strategies and programs that reflect scientifically based readingresearch is a guiding principle of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Reading First initiative.Relying on rigorously tested instructional practices and materials provides a sound basis forinstructional decisions.Reading FirstReading First is a federal initiative authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S.Department of Education provides Reading First grants to states, which, in turn, awardsubgrants to eligible school districts that submit approved proposals for how they will applyscientifically based reading research to improve reading instruction and student achievement.The common goal of the U.S. Department of Education, the states, and the local school districtsis for all students to be reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade. This goal wasestablished because children who are not proficient readers by the end of fourth grade are notlikely ever to be proficient readers. It is wiser to ensure that students are good readers in theprimary grades than to wait until their last chance may have passed and then try to provideremedial reading instruction that may not work.The Reading First initiative provides guidance on several key elements, which can be thought ofas four “pillars” of an effective reading program. The four pillars are as follows:Valid and Reliable Assessments. An effective reading program will utilize valid and reliableassessments that help teachers know what skills students have acquired, which students areexperiencing difficulty, and how much progress students have made. This is accomplishedthrough the use of screening, diagnostics, progress monitoring, and outcome assessments.These assessments are ongoing and include both formal (standardized, quantitative) andEffective Reading Instruction? 2

informal measures of students’ reading skills that guide the teacher in planning and evaluatinginstruction.Instructional Programs and Aligned Materials. Effective instructional programs and materialsemphasize the five essential components of effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness,phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. These programs and materials provideinstruction in the five components that is explicit (focused, clear, and involves much modelingof how to use each skill) and systematic (precisely planned, sequenced, and comprehensive).They provide ample time for students to learn, practice, and apply the skills they have beentaught in reading meaningful text.Aligned Professional Development. Strong professional development helps teachers understandand use instructional practices that reliably foster high student achievement. It is tailored tosupport the specific instructional program teachers are using as well as the academic standardsadopted at the state level. The learning experiences give teachers time to acquire newknowledge of how to assess and teach the five essential components, support for putting thisnew knowledge into practice with students, and feedback on how well teachers use what theyhave learned.Dynamic Instructional Leadership. Reading First recognizes the critical role of instructionalleaders. This role requires a strong, active commitment to supporting improved readinginstruction and the implementation of scientifically based reading research in the classroom.Instructional leaders provide coaching and support and are responsible for establishing andcommunicating clear goals and expectations for student learning. Administrators at the districtand building levels must be ready to provide the resources needed to ensure that schools aremaking adequate progress.A Closer Look at the Five Essential Components of Effective Reading InstructionThis document focuses on the second pillar, instructional programs and aligned materials. Itspurpose is to provide teachers with a clear, concise review of strategies for teaching reading,drawn from scientifically based reading research. It is organized around the five essentialcomponents of effective reading instruction and the methods of explicit and systematicinstruction identified by the National Reading Panel and applied through the Reading Firstinitiative. The document includes: Concise summaries of research findings. Descriptions of effective instructional strategies. Lesson excerpts illustrating these strategies in use. References and resources for more in-depth exploration of specific topics.This information will give teachers a better understanding of how the five essential componentsof effective reading instruction can be implemented in the classroom.Effective Reading Instruction? 3

Phonemic AwarenessPhonemic awareness is commonly defined as the understanding that spoken words are madeup of separate units of sound that are blended together when words are pronounced. However,it can also be thought of as skill at hearing and producing the separate sounds in words,dividing or segmenting words into their component sounds, blending separate sounds intowords, and recognizing words that sound alike or different. It is defined by reading experts asthe ability to “focus on and manipulate phonemes in spoken words” (NICHD, 2000). Forexample, hearing and saying that the word cat has three sounds, or phonemes /k/ /a/ /t/ is anexample of phonemic awareness skill.We know that phonemic awareness is important in learning to read languages that are based onan alphabet (Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1994). Phonemic awareness can also be used topredict how well children will learn to read. Researchers were able to identify who would learnto read more easily and who would have difficulty by measuring the extent to which childrenhad developed phonemic awareness (Share, Jorm, Maclean, & Matthews, 1984). Moreimportantly, a number of studies have shown that teaching phonemic awareness to youngchildren significantly increases their later reading achievement (Cunningham, 1989; Foorman,Francis, Fletcher, Schatschneider, & Mehta, 1998; Lundberg, Frost, & Peterson, 1988). As anessential part of learning to read and a strong predictor of reading success, phonemic awarenessis a concept every reading teacher should understand and be able to teach proficiently (Adams,Foorman, Lundberg, & Beeler, 1998).This section addresses four important questions about phonemic awareness: What are phonemes? How can we know if children are developing phonemic awareness? How does phonemic awareness help young children learn to read? How can teachers help students develop phonemic awareness?What Are Phonemes?Phonemes are the sounds that make up spoken words. They are thesmallest segments of sounds within spoken language. For example,the word no is made up of two phonemes: /n/ and /o/. We hearthem as a single word because we blend the individual phonemesinto a unit as we pronounce the word. Phonemes are represented inwritten language by graphemes. Graphemes may be single letters (a,t, k, e, or n) or clusters of letters that represent single sounds (th, sh,oo, ough, or ck). Think of phonemes not as “the sounds that lettersmake” but as the sounds of speech that can be represented byletters.Phonemes are speechsounds, not letters. Thissymbol, b, is not aphoneme. It is a letterthat has been designatedto represent thephoneme /b/.Effective Reading Instruction? 4

Phonemes are difficult to distinguish in normal speech because the individual sounds slide intoone another as words are spoken. An adult who is asked to count the phonemes in a givenword will probably rely on his or her knowledge of how many letters are used to spell the word(Ehri, 1984). But this is not a completely reliable indicator because some phonemes arerepresented by a combination or cluster of letters. For example, there are four phonemes in theword salt but only two in the word though. A more reliable way to identify phonemes within aword is to “stretch out” the word’s pronunciation and count the number of changes in how themouth, tongue, and lips work as they make the individual sounds.Here is a way to check your own understanding of phonemes. How many phonemes are inthese words? (The answers are on the next page). ran rain reign ate eight straightHow Can We Know if Children Are Developing Phonemic Awareness?There are several levels of phonemic awareness that may be demonstrated through differentclassroom activities (Schatschneider, Francis, Foorman, Fletcher, & Mehta, 1999). These levelsrepresent increasingly difficult tasks, and as such, they may provide an indication of how achild’s phonemic awareness is developing.Phonemic Awareness TaskIsolating phonemesBlending onset-rimes(The onset is the leadingconsonant(s) in a syllable; therime is the vowel(s) andfollowing consonants.)Blending phonemesDemonstration ActivityExampleStudents identify specificsounds at the beginning,middle, and end of words.Teacher (T): What is the firstsound in the word dog?Students blend onset-rimes toform real words.T: What word can you makeby blending these two soundstogether? s andStudent (S): /d/S: sandStudents blend phonemes toform real words.Teacher: What word is madefrom blending these sounds:/b/ /a/ /t/?S: batEffective Reading Instruction? 5

Phonemic Awareness TaskDeleting phonemesDemonstration ActivityExampleStudents identify the wordthat remains when a phonemeis removed or deleted.T: What word is left when wedrop the /s/ from the wordspot?S: potSegmenting words intophonemesAdding phonemesStudents break a word into itsindividual sounds by countingthe sounds or by moving amarker for each sound.T: Show me how manyphonemes are there in theword bake.Students make new words