Reading and Language Arts: An Integrated Approach

Article excerpt

Reading and Language Arts: An Integrated Approach

It's the kind of classroom situation all teachers dream about: highly motivated students working both cooperatively and independently on meaningful academic tasks; an absence of disciplinary problems; and an organized yet relaxed atmosphere in which teacher and student and learning medium interact with ease. To complete the picture, add students whose achievement scores rise steadily, who want to spend their lunch and break times in the classroom--and most experienced teachers would say it's too good to be true.

But at King's Canyon Middle School in Fresno, Calif., where a "laser learning communication arts center" has been set up, goodness and reality coincide. Using the latest state-of-the-art equipment and techniques--laserdiscs, interactive video, video cameras, computers and printers--to assist in the instruction of reading and language arts, the center may be setting a new trend for education. A laser learning center's approach integrates listening, speaking, reading and writing while teaching language skills in meaningful content-area contexts. Hoffman Educational Systems of Duarte, Calif., has developed and implemented the center.

At King's Canyon, students whose California Achievement Test scores average two years below grade level use the center, which operates hourly. The 900-student school is located in a lower-middle-class area of Fresno, a city with 63,000 public school students, 50 percent of whom come from minorities. Enthusiastic reactions to the center, one of four the city's school district, have come from students, teachers and parents since it began in September of 1988. Tests show that students in this center and others learn more efficiently using the self-paced, individualized, interactive video method, especially when it is combined with teacher-directed instruction.

Multi-sensory

Learning

At King's Canyon, languate-based lessons provide multi-sensory experiences for students who watch and listen to the interactive video. The live on-screen stories are followed by thought-provoking questions. Depending on the student's responses, lessons branch to more advanced or to remedial materials. Materials used are content-based and deal with many subject areas, including science, history, the environment and literature. Stories may be reread independently through the program's "Encore Reader," a printed copy of the story presented via the interactive video that allows a student to reread and study material off-screen.

To follow up the interactive video lessons, students complete independent writing activities using the center's process-writing system. An observer at the center may see several students using interactive video while others use clustering and mapping techniques to begin their writing activities. Other students may be using additional computers and printers for the word processing and publishing of their writing. Each student has an individual writing folder containing both completed assignments and work in progress.

At a centrally located teacher station, a teacher or teacher's aide works with individual students or small groups to explain the rationale of each lesson and then provide added instruction and explanations as needed.

"Students love the interactive video, especially the content, which can assist them in other classes such as history or science," says Elaina Smith, the teacher at the King's Canyon center. "There is a wide range of topics and language skills, and the material is content-based. Kids pick up different and more interesting knowledge than in a traditional approach to reading and language arts."

The center's champion is Don Beauregard, the principal of King's Canyon. After transferring from Fresno's Ft. Miller school, where anotehr center was credited wit having significantly raised the achievement scores of high-risk students, he established the center at King's Canyon. …