Literacy programs are beneficial because they help in coding teaching into an activity that is beneficial to recipients. The way in which education programs are taught is as equally valuable as the content of the programs. Teaching and learning are involved in comprehensive literacy programs. The education system now is unusually comprehensive because students are engaged in the programs. They learn through themes, as well as reading and writing (Cooper, Kiger, Robinson & Slansky, 2011).
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Literacy models are valuable because they clearly articulate the activities in learning by focusing on the learner and the trainers. The models explain how learning activities are articulated in an ideal learning environment. The reading and writing proficiency is easily enhanced through a comprehensive literacy model. Learning is directly impacted by the physical environment, the pace of instructions and consistency in giving instructions.
Education has changed from the way it was being looked at in the past. Today, students are expected to develop proficient skills in reading and writing at an exceptionally early stage of learning (Colorado Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Proposal, 2012). This paper discuses the development of a comprehensive literacy model for elementary schools (k-5) model. It describes how the model will be structured to reflect the literacy objectives and how they will be applied.
Summary of the components of a comprehensive literacy model
A comprehensive literacy model for complementary grades has to address a number of competencies. These competencies are: vocabulary, writing and comprehension. These appertain to competencies in English language arts. Struggling students may require instructions meant to enhance their fluency and accuracy in identifying words and their usage.
Researchers in education have established various components that form a comprehensive literacy model for elementary students. The first feature is fluency and accurate identification of words in their context. Fluency is the ability of the students to read without decoding the words. It gives the students a chance of focusing on the meaning of the context. Fluency is a key feature of skilled reading by the students. Building fluency is a key objective for students in the elementary grades within the United States.
Vocabulary becomes advanced and difficult as students advance. Also, the sentence structure and setup advances as students move to upper grades. Thus, fluency and accuracy are vital in helping students to catch up with the advancing language in learning (Cooper, Kiger, Robinson & Slansky, 2011).
Reading comprehensive is another component of a comprehensive literacy model. Reading comprehension is a process of simultaneous extraction and construction of meaning through interaction as well as involvement with written language. Comprehension skills in children begin to be traced at the time when the children become exposed to oral language such as listening to stories.
Reading comprehension, which is more sophisticated, is critical to student success in schools. This should happen after the students have gained what is referred to as “learning to read” skills. Students in lower grades build on this skill as they prepare to face tougher challenges (Cooper, Kiger, Robinson & Slansky, 2011).
The third component of comprehensive literacy is vocabulary. Vocabulary is essential for students to achieve in reading. Beyond the 3rd grade, students in the US begin to be exposed to more challenging academic materials. Therefore, vocabulary becomes demanding. The enrichment of the reading vocabulary helps in bringing clarity in the content that is being read by the students.
Rich vocabulary instruction becomes eminent for students as they graduate to upper grades of learning. At this level, teachers or instructors need to target words for instructions. The words are manipulated by students in different settings so that a greater understanding can be achieved. The attention of students should be focused on the common roots of the vocabulary in use such as the suffixes and the prefixes.
This enhances knowledge of words that help to understand the meaning of the words. Resources, like dictionary, thesaurus or glossary are introduced to students at this stage. Students are encouraged to infer new words, which they learn, and these resources are helpful in this exercise (Cooper, Kiger, Robinson & Slansky, 2011).
The last component of comprehensive learning is writing. Beyond the third grade, writing has to be addressed using writing mechanics and conventions. The strategies of the writing process; for instance, outlining are used by the students. Students are expected to become independent in the use of writing as they come close to junior high school. Teachers are required to organize students to develop and discuss pieces of writing.
Also, teachers have to make sure that students are refining and bettering their work. Writing activities have to permeate language arts and the content area classes. Not every writing occasion involves multiple drafts. The English arts and other teachers have a shared responsibility of monitoring and offering feedback on how the students use writing conversations.
A balanced approach to literacy requires the setting up of a curriculum framework that awards similar status to reading and writing. It must recognize the usefulness of strategies and skills that are used by the proficient readers (Cooper, Kiger, Robinson & Slansky, 2011).
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The State of Colorado enacted the Basic Literacy Act in the year 1997. This Act was meant to ensure that all students by the third grade have the required literacy skills to enable them succeed in school and life. The Act required reading interventions for such students.
This Act marked a significant stepping stone for changes in literacy programs in the state of Colorado and the United States at large. Many changes and other pieces of legislation have been made to this Act. The most recent Act is the Colorado Reading Act that was passed in 2012. The Act keeps most of elements of K-3 literacy model. Programs that fall under this model cater for the needs of students learning below grade. Assessments are done to identify the students below the grades.
A competitive, early literacy grant was provided for in the Read Act. Many changes are still taking place in the literacy legislation. The main aim of these changes is to pre-empt the development of a sound model that will be utilized in the details of this report. Assessments of literacy programs in Colorado have been ongoing. The assessments form a basis upon which better literacy programs are developed and implemented.
In this year, New English Language Proficiency Assessments were rolled out. The assessments are aimed at monitoring the progress of students in acquiring academic English in the state. The assessment is expected to continue to next year so that literacy gaps can be identified and steps taken to improve the administration of the literacy programs (The Colorado Department of Education, 2012a).
Description of the Literacy Instruction
A comprehensive literacy model (K-5) includes a curriculum framework, which gives equal status to reading and writing. A daily comprehensive literacy model will contain different activities that are done within a given timeframe. Reading aloud will take place in 15 minutes, shared reading will be conducted in a span of 15- 30 minutes, and independent reading will take 15-30 minutes. Guided reading will take one hour daily; 10-20 minutes per group session and 3-4 times weekly.
Struggling readers will do this on a daily basis. Modeled writing will be conducted in 150-20 minutes per day and four times weekly. Shared writing will take place in 10 -15 minutes and three in a week. The spelling of words will take place in 15 minutes at maximum each day. Independent writing will be conducted in a maximum time of 20 minutes and four times per week (The Colorado Department of Education, 2012a).
In general, a comprehensive literacy model is structured in an interactive manner. A k-5 model will include many processes and actions that will make up the general model. These include adequate literacy materials, appropriate formal and informal assessments, and literacy instruction to serve students with special needs in education and literacy team meetings.
Others are a response to intervention program, comprehension of research, taking part in professional development and theory and knowledge processing theory, as well as the gradual release of responsibility model. Also, there is reading recovery intervention intended for the needy first graders and supplementary literacy groups meant for struggling readers.
A focus on literacy in the entire curriculum and high standards which are benchmarked along processing continuums is other elements of the literacy model (The Colorado Department of Education, 2012a).
A comprehensive literacy model is designed to help meet a number of goals in education. Therefore, the major objective of this model is to enhance the academic performance of students. Reading and writing instructions are that main contents on the literacy model.
The major objective of reading and writing instruction is to enable students to understand or comprehend the reading and writing skills, as well as make use of skills as they advance in academics. The literacy model is meant to offer a framework of issuing a framework or basis of understanding how to give balanced literacy instructions (Colorado Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Proposal, 2012).
The key elements of the literacy model are: setting high standards, lab classrooms, coaching and mentoring, accountability, timely intervention, professional development, literacy plan, technology and spotlighting. The setting of standards is procedural and is done according to the state standards.
The standards do not need to be compromised; instead they have to be highly supplemented. Lab classrooms are used for sharing routines and scheduling for workshop frameworks. They help in developing self-regulated learners. Coaching and mentoring is a strong form of intervention. The techniques of apprenticeship are emphasized because they support the teachers (Colorado Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Proposal, 2012).
Early intervention lays the foundation for attending to the needs of students on a timely manner. It ensures that confusion is minimized in the program. Professional development gives teachers all the essential tools to help then in instructing the students efficiently and effectively. Accountability will ensure that the right information is availed by the schools for assessment and that the evaluation is done objectively.
On the other hand, the literacy plan is summative of the program. It contains the goals of the program and other combinations that are necessary to feature in the program. Technology provides opportunities for networking that aids in sharing data. Spotlighting will be essential in knowledge sharing. Effective programs are advocated for through spotlighting (Colorado Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Proposal, 2012).
The focus of the literacy plan is on students. Therefore, formative assessment and feedback is essential in improving the learning outcomes of students. The efforts are focused on knowing each student as a learner, reader and writer. Therefore, the strengthening of the formative assessment routines is needed in order to get the necessary data to make tangible decisions on instructional practices in learning (Colorado Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Proposal, 2012).
Scientifically-Based Reading Research and Comprehensive Literacy Instruction
This is a comprehensive element, which has to be included in the literacy model. It entails applying of rigorous, systematic and objective procedures in obtaining valid knowledge. This knowledge is essential in reading development, instruction and difficulties. Teachers, who are highly qualified in k-5, have to be incorporated to achieve this knowledge.
Such teachers are resourceful in improving reading and writing proficiency for students. This practice has to be applied early. The application of comprehensive instructions that have been proven by a reading research, which is scientific, is the opening path to the reading ability of children (Behm, et al, 2012).
The development of phonemic and phonological awareness skills
The other areas of focus are phonemic awareness, fluency, phonics, comprehension and vocabulary. This forms what is known as comprehensive instruction. These instructions are given directly, systematically, explicitly and in a multisensory manner. The Colorado State is exploring these areas in its k-5 literacy programs.
These are also referred to as the essential building blocks in literacy programs. The Reading First Program of the Colorado state has been demonstrating the importance of investing professional energy in the cultivation of these skills within the students. Phonological and phonemic awareness helps students to build up and mature in language. The teachers have to be keen on differentiating between these two aspects of literacy.
Phonemic awareness is a crucial step towards total comprehension of the alphabetic principle. Students have to understand the composition of words and the sound that is attached to each letter that is used in the word. Students will also be trained on how to listen to sounds as they com e out in spoken language.
This is referred to as phonological awareness. It is a strong listening skill which must be emphasized. Phonological and phonemic awareness can be promoted through various activities like rhyming games and finger plays (Behm, et al, 2012).
All the two instructions have to be given within a certain timeframe that is reasonable enough to offer students enough time to exercise and capture them.
Phonological awareness can be given a maximum of 25 hours per year, which is further subdivided equally in the number of lessons in the entire program. Phonological awareness is better implemented or taught in smaller groups. Most of the lessons in this area have to be exercised in groups because this keeps the session active, thence helping to prolong concentration (Behm, et al, 2012).
Phonics and word study are explicit skills that help in enhancing alphabet recognition. The spelling instructions can easily be integrated with phonic instructions. Phonics can also be integrated with spelling instructions. Decoding by analogy, sight words, structural analysis, and linguistic context usage is included in phonemics and the study of words (Behm, et al, 2012).
Phonics can be practiced in two approaches: The skill explicit and skill embedded. In the skills explicit approach, blending sounds are practiced in isolated sounds. Recognition and spelling of high frequency words is included in explicit skills. The skills embedded approach includes the use of picture cues, emphasizing on spelling and the pattern of sounds, teachable moments rather than the sequence of skills.
The sounds are discovered in the within word contexts (Behm, et al, 2012). The spelling of words enhances phonemic awareness and knowledge of letters, which speeds up the acquisition of skills in conventional spelling. Writing using systematic spelling has a positive influence on the growth of reading and writing skills (Behm, et al, 2012).
Fluency instruction involves the practice of accurate reading of connected texts in a quick and appropriate pronunciation. Students who have developed fluency skills will often recognize words that have been written basing on orthography. Fluency focuses on comprehension and decoding.
It offers a link between the two (Behm, et al, 2012). All the above approaches lead to the development of vocabulary. Here, the students develop knowledge about word meaning and pronunciation. This is needed in both written and oral communication and understanding.
Proficient reading is the end product of high level competence in spoken and written language. Integrating readings skills and language development is a need for all students especially those learning English language. The competence skill in language by the students is highly dependent on proficiency in language and vocabulary understanding and usage. Phonological awareness becomes meaningful upon its introduction to students in the early grades as reading and spelling will be bettered from this stage (Behm, et al, 2012).
Comprehensive literacy for struggling readers
The organizing structure in the literacy plans for a state includes two main dimensions. These are the ‘what’ ad ‘how’ certain insights into the development of a comprehensive plan are articulated. The risk factors for students, who need special intervention, are dealt with in the plan.
The ‘what’ aspect includes research, goals and practices in the literacy programs. The ‘how’ entails the manner in which the efforts from different stakeholders shall be synchronized to when implementing the goals and objectives. Striving students are the prime targets of the literacy plans. Therefore, they have to be given extra attention. This is what calls for many stakeholders on board to gunner efforts of addressing literacy challenges (The Colorado Department of Education, 2012b).
Multiple sources of data are used in evaluating the needs assessment and evaluation of progress towards achieving outcomes and goals. The information is used in categorizing students according to their literacy needs.
The students are assessed on an ongoing basis because changes happen as time goes in the implementation of the programs. Evaluation brings about a common view point of the students as individuals and collectively as a group. The outcomes of evaluation further give a ground on which continuous assessments are based (The Colorado Department of Education, 2012b).
The comprehensive literacy model is helpful in bringing a positive growth in literacy programs. All components of literacy have to be including in the model for it to be effective. Each component has a significant impact in the literacy program that is being implemented at any given level. All elements in the components must be effectively addressed and clearly articulated in order to meet the goals of literacy programs.
Behm, et al. (2012). Comprehensive Literacy Model Handbook. 2008 – 2009 Edition. Web.
Colorado Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Proposal. (2012). Web.
Cooper, J. D., Kiger, N. D., Robinson, M. D., & Slansky, J. A. (2011). Literacy: Helping students construct meaning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.
The Colorado Department of Education. (2012a). Colorado State Literacy Plan. Web.
The Colorado Department of Education. (2012b). Unit of Assessment, Research & Evaluation. Web.