The Reading Curriculum and Instruction


 There are many implications for instruction that they have been suggested. They reflect research result and what we now understand about the nature of reading abilities and how they develop. One con­clusion to draw from these chapters is that reading comprehension and its development are very complex. In this chap­ter, we explore briefly major implications for reading instruction; these include (a) specific suggestions for carrying out reading instruction that draws on research findings and (b) ways to build coherent curricular approaches that maximize learning.

Implications for instruction from research

The combination of research on LI and L2 reading suggests that there are a number of important implications for L2 reading instruction. Most fundamentally, reading comprehension requires the 12 skills and knowledge resources. In an ideal world, each of these implications from research would be subject to many instructional training studies and longitudinal stud­ies to determine the potential for transforming implications into effective applications in the classroom, as well as the potential for integrating each implication into a coherent overall curriculum.

From implications to applications for L2 reading instruction

The key argument arising from the earlier chapters is that a number of reading sub skills can be taught successfully, and further, that the learning of these sub skills will contribute to students’ reading comprehension abilities. This section begins with curriculum-development principles that can inform reading instruction and establish goals for learning.

Curriculum-development principles

The most fundamental goal for reading instruction is to incorporate key component skills and knowledge into a coherent reading curriculum. To frame instructional options, a set of more general principles are needed for building a reading curriculum.

Building awareness of discourse structure

Teaching students to become more aware of text structure is a crit­ic of one aspect of reading instruction and curriculum planning. Teachers need to be aware that writers’ goals and task / genre requirements determine basic discourse organization, and the specific information that a writer presents has a major impact on how a text is organized.

Promoting strategic reading

Strategies for reading comprehension build on the linguistic resources (words, phrases, and structures) and support the basic comprehension model developed by the reader. When good readers read for careful comprehension, they actively engage academic texts through multiple strategies and a heightened level of metacognitive awareness.

These strategies, combined with metacognitive awareness train­ing, include forming goals before reading, reading selectively as appropri­ate, predicting upcoming information, clarifying ideas and connections, using text-structure information, and building main-idea summaries, among others. Teaching for strategic reading involves consistent modeling, scaffold­ing, extensive practice, and eventually independent use of the strategies by students.

Practicing reading fluency

Building word- and passage-reading fluency also requires an extended commitment in the reading curriculum. One cannot build reading fluency by practicing for a month or two, or on the first Friday of every month. It is critical to explain to students why they are working on fluency and to “sell” students on fluency, rate, and recognition activities.

Promoting motivation for reading

Motivation growth can be supported in the following ways (see the extended list of suggestions in Chapter 9):

  1. Talk about what types of reading interests you and why.
  2. Have students share their reading interests.
    1. Promote the development of group cohesiveness and create commu­nities of learners.
    2. Increase students’ expectancy of success in many particular reading tasks.
    3. Have good lead-in hands-on tasks for major readings in order to build initial interest.
  3. Match student skills with challenges.
  4. Make the curriculum relevant to students.
    1. Make learners active participants in reading so that learn­ing is stimulating and enjoyable.

Combining language and content learning’

As noted earlier, a principle in building a reading curriculum is to con­sider which goals will have a high priority and how to combine all of the priority goals into a coherent overall educational plan.

Integrated content and language learning also provides many natural opportunities for (a) extended reading; (b) motivational learning experiences; (c) strate­gic responses to complex tasks; (d) greater choices in reading materials; and (e) matching growing reading skills with more challenging tasks. The combination of content and language learning brings in opportunities for project-based learning, the recycling of important skills on a regu­lar basis, the rereading of many text resources, and more realistic needs to interpret, integrate, and evaluate information from multiple fits. These types of activities capture what students should be trying to do with information resources for academic purposes.

Content-based instruction for L2 reading development

The many specific instructional applications outlined in the previous section do not provide an overarching framework for student learning. The first two options for reading curricula noted above are imple­mented occasionally, but neither option typically allows for the coher­ent incorporation of several reading skills, academic reading tasks, and extensive reading practice that are crucial for reading development

Reading textbook series

Some of my best friends are reading textbooks. (Anonymous, 2007)

The use of a reading textbook series (or major textbook) is the most common approach for L2 students almost everywhere. Textbooks often provide clear instructional frameworks as well as teacher guidance and support. Good textbook series have a range of useful pre-, during-, and post card reading activities. Good series include interesting texts and some­times cluster multiple texts in thematic units; they introduce reading strategies, vocabulary learning and practice, discourse- and morphology-awareness activities, and extension tasks that integrate language skills.

 

Content-Based Reading Instruction (CBRI)

CBRI is not an easy option to implement (and that is a limitation), it requires a significant commitment to reading resources, teacher training and development, time in the curriculum, time for instructional prepa­ration, institutional willingness to innovate, and skill in developing inte­grated curricula.

Transactional Strategies Instruction (TSI)

it also incorporates content-based instruction, extensive reading to support content learning and strategy instruction, and options for teaching reading skills (decoding, vocab­ulary, fluency, metalinguistic awareness) in what has been called a balanced approach to reading instruction.

TSI is also the foundation for a broader approach to reading instruc­tion that builds on both content and reading instruction. Reading instruc­tion occurs every day and reading skills such as decoding, word recogni­tion, vocabulary, and fluency are given appropriate emphasis, depending on the needs of the students.

Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI)

CORI, the curricular approach developed by Guthrie, Wigfield, and colleagues, is easily the most researched specific curricular approach to LI reading instruction to date. It has demonstrated remarkable success in many studies with LI elementary-grade students in building student motivation for reading, promoting reading engagement, producing greater amounts of reading activity, and significantly improving reading comprehension abilities.

 

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