Smith’s American Reading Instruction- Stahl’s Epilogue and Pearson’s Article. Judy Sheehan. Epilogue by Norman A. Stahl. Stahl asks: Is Smith’s book still important in the 21 st century? American Reading Instruction is: “a touchstone of the past” (p. 413) and
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Smith’s American Reading Instruction- Stahl’s Epilogue and Pearson’s Article
Is Smith’s book still important in the 21st century?
“a touchstone of the past” (p. 413) and
“can be a comfort while bringing wisdom to the reading profession in this time of political and pedagogical unrest” (p. 413).
-breadth and depth without the benefit of technological research
- deserving of a dissertation award
-shows doctoral students the importance of historical research.
-has become THE source on the history of reading instruction of the masses (pp. 413-414).
Carry-over Developments Up to 1935 and Cont. 1965
-- revised and extended in the middle third of the century
-- 90% of students learned via this method
Elaborations from 1935-1965
Influence of Jeanne Chall’s (1967) seminal work, Learning to Read: The Great Debate
- grade 1 goals of comprehension, interpretation, and contextualization of phonics instruction
- Skills not mentioned but still had a role.
Debate- What is the best way to teach beginning reading?
-studies involved comparison of different teaching methods
-findings: any alternative to traditional basals resulted in equal or greater performance; researchers could now focus on the importance of the teacher
-Federal Right to Read Program
- used critical review to investigate empirical research, basal readers’ content, and excellent classroom teaching practices
-Findings: importance of early attention to code in early reading instruction
SHIFT IN THE EARLY 1970s: more difficult texts, more phonics, and a new skills development program
NO CHANGE: teacher still as mediator with students as recipients; reading still a perceptual process of translation (pp. 422-429)
-Reading was central to success in many areas in and out of school.
-Scholars outside of education felt that “educationists had it all wrong” (p. 429) – sounds familiar.
-SCHEMA THEORY considers prior knowledge, interpretation differences due to various or limited background knowledge
-Charles Fries’ research- not everything needs explicit teaching- acquired from oral language
-Chomsky- humans are born with the ability to acquire community language
-Brown & Goodman-found that children learn actively, infer rules, and test them
-Goodman & Smith- oral reading errors=view of reading comprehension processes
Smith’s Understanding Reading (1971)
ON CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION:
-basic processes such as text comprehension, story grammars, expository texts (text-analysis tradition)
- the primary tradition of literary criticism post-WWII until the 1980s
- students/teachers focused on the true meaning of text
-authority to the reader=affected teaching practices
-Rosenblatt’s texts- her view=meaning is in the transaction between the reader and the text
-research from that study and others focused on strategies to improve comprehension through instruction, monitoring, organizers, etc.
- reducing vocabulary difficulty and grammatical complexity and taking out offensive material-words/themes
- children selecting and independently reading own books- occurred even in the 60s-Book clubs and literature circles-voluntary structures, teacher-influenced cultural practices (ways to interact and support each other)
Sociolinguistic -writing to real audiences/purposes
Psycholinguistic- focus on quality of thinking and problem solving less on spelling and grammar
Constructivist-writing most transparent of all instructional activities
-Publishers-backgrounded skills and foregrounded integrated LA activities
-“Unintended curriculum casualities”
-Dissatisfaction with any extreme views
-Paradigm shift in the ideology of reading research
-Increase in the politicization of reading research and policy agenda
-Increasing pressure for all educators, esp. in reading to produce measurable results
-Dramatic shift in the current model of professional development
-Now: Who Holds the High Ground?
--especially in kindergarten and grade 1 with explicit instruction
--Writing aligns w/ whole language: literature-based reading and process writing- similar to early 90s and some 80s perspectives
-- RC=Dec* LC returns along with teacher as transmitter of knowledge
-an alternative to the pendulum swinging that has infected the field for the majority of the 20th century.
Pearson, P.D. (2002). American reading instruction since 1967. In Smith, N.B. (2002). American reading instruction (pp. 419-486). Newark, DE. International Reading Association.
Stahl, N.A. (2002). Epilogue. In Smith, N.B. (2002). American reading instruction (pp. 413-418). Newark, DE. International Reading Association.