The Psychology of Reading Instruction

By Ediger, Marlow | Reading Improvement, Fall 2004 | Go to article overview
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The Psychology of Reading Instruction


Ediger, Marlow, Reading Improvement


The teacher needs to be well versed in the teaching of reading. There is content to read in each curriculum area regardless of the grade level taught. There also are clearly differentiated programs of instruction. Each is based on a selected psychological school of thought. Educators need to study and analyze each school of thought to see where it would fit into a quality program of instruction. Each program of instruction needs to meet needs of pupils. Meeting needs is a sound way of thinking about the curriculum. Rather than emphasizing one traditional plan of teaching, the teacher needs to study and analyze pupil's curricular achievement to see what fits into the learner's repertoire of skills and knowledge. For example, it is the pupil who needs to be taught to read and not emphasis being placed upon tradition, or authoritarian beliefs. The materials and methods of instruction should harmonize with what would assist pupils to achieve optimally in reading.

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Basal Reading Instruction

The use of carefully chosen basal readers has a set of beliefs which encourages their use. They have been chosen for publication by a commercial company and are generally written and edited by a select set of reading specialists. Basals have an accompanying manual for teachers to use in choosing objectives, learning opportunities, and evaluation techniques. These may be used en toto or in part, as the teacher chooses. The manual may be good for beginning teachers to use; later the more experienced teacher needs to be increasingly creative in developing his/her own reading curriculum to meet pupil needs. There are dangers in using the manual religiously, year after school year, which can make for a stultifying reading curriculum.

The teacher needs to group pupils appropriately when using the basal reader for instructional purposes. Pupils should experience flexible grouping, heterogeneously or homogeneously, depending upon what would help the individual child to optimize achievement. The content read should not be too easy which can make for boredom or a lack of interest, nor should it be too complex making for pupil failure. There needs be a starting point in reading for each pupil where he/she is developing optimally and sequentially. Each pupil needs to achieve as much as personal abilities permit, and yet be successful in learning to read as well as possible (See also Vacca, 2002).

Items which would make the basal more developmental for pupils are the following:

1. since basals are written for a group of grade level pupils in a classroom, the teacher needs to individualize instruction so that each pupil might benefit as much as possible from the textbook.

2. teachers should use the manual creatively so that the best ideas possible are used for teaching and learning in reading. Ideas can then be chosen from the manual, from the teacher's repertoire, and from quality research in the teaching of reading.

3. individual endeavors, committee work, and large group instruction may be used as needed in the instructional arena. In large group instruction, the teacher may introduce new words and their contextual meanings, word recognition techniques, and build background information within pupils for reading the ensuing selection. Committee work might involve four pupils, for example, to discuss the completed reading selection. Individualized instruction provides opportunities for a learner to pursue related projects and activities

4. active involvement of pupils is necessary so that pupils are carefully attending to ongoing instruction. This might well mean small group or individual instruction.

5. each group should be given assistance as needed. Teacher aides are necessary to assist pupils as needed They work with the supervision of he regular teacher. Retired teachers, in the community, are glad to provide time in the regular classroom by listening to children read orally and check comprehension, among other tasks.

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