Running head: Early Literacy Development 1 Independent Study in Early Literacy Development Dawn Burke EDLL 7000 Dr. Mellinee Lesley December 1, 2019 EARLY LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 2 Independent Study in Early Literacy Development Allington, D. & Pressley, M. (2014). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced Teaching. New York, NY: Guilford Press. This is a very comprehensive book dealing with balanced literacy. The author, Michael Pressley has focused his research on effective literacy instruction, comprehension strategies and vocabulary instruction. Additionally, he has presented his research on memory development, metacognition and comprehension. The author makes the argument that a balanced approach to literacy is most beneficial because there are parts of skills-based phonics and whole language approaches that are especially helpful for students. He believes that using the two approaches together—side by side is what makes the difference. The book has chapters detailing the pros and cons of whole language and phonics skills used independently in the classroom. The politics behind outspoken and highly published researchers is discussed and shows how it can influence policy makers. The concept of constructively responsive reading is the framework for the book. The author presents strong cases for each whole language and phonics depending on the age, grade level, whether the student is an “average” learner or struggling. There is discussion of the “bottom up vs. top down” processes and the need for a balance between the two for successful reading. Discussion around how learning to read affects a student who has biological or developmental dyslexia and what he terms a garden variety poor reader. The author suggests additional research needs in the areas of reading difficulties past the third grade and the importance of parent-child attachment as it has a such an impact on a child’s future academic success. Chapters cover areas of recognizing words, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension strategies, writing, motivation and EARLY LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 3 teaching from a balanced literacy approach. At the beginning of the book there is a good selection of additional reference about each of the issues discussed in the book. Additionally, each chapter ends with an extensive reference list. Cassano, C. M., & Dougherty, S. (2018). Pivotal Research in Early Literacy: foundational studies and current. New York, NY: Guilford Press. This book is organized into sections of studies of early literacy development. Using the term “pivotal” was an important perspective for this book. Since research lays the foundation for many fields it can and always will be pivoting in some form or fashion. Seminal pieces of research were gathered in 3 chosen “pivotal” areas: 1) early literacy development and acquisition that included vocabulary, alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and word recognition. 2) behavioral aspects of engagement, motivation and self-regulation along with early writing. 3) home and community looking at its influence on early childhood education and development. Experts in those fields were asked to examine and expound upon the ideas looking at the historical context, relationships amongst the studies and its impact on teaching, theory and research. The last analysis of each section were conclusions drawn that affected school personnel and those who create educational policy. The authors intent for this book was to give those who work with young children in any capacity--research, teaching, or specialists in the field a look into research revealing historical timelines and how each piece of research impacted the field and the ensuing wave of research. The concluding comments in the book give time to how the research has positively influenced research and curriculum policies also pointing out how research can EARLY LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 4 lead to negative effects, case in point is that of emergent bilingualism. The authors say to be the lookout for research that is presented as conceptual explanations as they are cited more often than specific research articles leading those looking for information to be heavily influenced by one specific person. They also caution that future research does not get caught up in a battle of theoretical ideas but that more meta-analysis be done to create the scope of research needed to inform the future of early literacy. Clay, M. M. (2015). Change over time in children’s literacy development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. This book discusses the complex processes that take place as a person reads texts. It takes the processes and shows how children when exposed to them early in life can integrate them and move forward in reading with automaticity and comprehension. Marie Clay’s work in emergent literacy has been used worldwide to influence teaching strategies for children. This book adds writing as an important process to the reading since much can be learned about a child’s thought processes about reading by observing a child’s writing. The processes discussed in this book include visual, self-correction and the writing processes all working together. This is counter to many theorists who separate reading and writing into specific tasks/learning. Each child perceives, learns and demonstrates these processes differently. For skills to move upwards to higher levels, teachers must be able to closely observe students, to be flexible with the results students give them and to be cautious in the scaffolding decisions they make to inform their instruction. Marie Clay presents her research from a developmental psychology perspective positing that perceptual and cognitive changes exist regardless of teaching methods and/or EARLY LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 5 materials used. Environment plays a large role in Clay’s study of reading and writing processes. She says one must consider how students adapt to the environment they have been exposed to and then how they proceed in terms of reading strategies. The goal of the book is to encourage teachers to help their students attain writing, explaining selfcorrecting behaviors, ability to read continuous text and to become self-initiating and constructive in their thinking processes. Clay, M. M. (1993). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. This short book on observing emergent literacy skills is written by Marie Clay, who spent time as a teacher of young children and later taught school psychologists. Most of her work has taken place in New Zealand but has been used worldwide in literacy research. This book covers observations, and goes into great detail on taking running records, concepts about print, and oral language using assessments that are provided in the book. By using these tools, teachers can see when a student is showing slow progression of skills, analyze the results and make sound instructional moves based on the results. These observations and assessments are taken often and show evidence of learning over a consistent period of time. This is in stark contrast to the standardized testing that takes place showing only a fragment of a specific time frame. This book was written for those especially interested in emergent literacy skills of young children. Teachers will find the explanation of assessments and easy use of observational tools helpful, however, it could be used by administrators and researchers wanting reliable measurements of reading and writing tasks. Teachers of struggling students who need EARLY LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 6 intervention for specific processes will find this book particularly helpful for diagnosing specific issues in a child’s decoding and comprehension during the reading process. One important piece of the book has a discussion on how children come to school on different levels, some on level and some behind. If a child comes to school on level then they most likely will continue to predictably move to the next level with premade curriculums, however, if students come to school not on level or begin to struggle to keep up with the prescribed curriculum they will continue to fall behind. With these observational assessments, teachers can intervene and help those who need individualized instruction to stay on course. Cunningham, P. M. (2017). Phonics they use: words for reading and writing. Boston, MA: Pearson. This book by Patricia Cunningham emphasizes that students need to know what and how to use phonics for reading, writing and comprehension. The author uses her own teaching experiences, educational background and research to share activities that enhance children’s literacy acquisition. Her organization of the book incorporates an overall, multi-level, varied approach of teaching, emphasizing the ability to transfer phonological and phonemic awareness skills to decoding and spelling. This is done through teacher modeling, using oral language and an abundance of reading and writing to achieve comprehension of the skills needed to be a successful reader and writer. The book explains how teachers can scaffold the students learning using a multi-levelled variety of activities to ensure that wherever a student’s level of knowledge is, the concept can be taught and scaffolded to ensure success in learning the content. The last EARLY LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 7 section of the book is devoted to coaching, assessment and key terms that teachers should be aware of and how to use in the classroom. The author cites research from the past 40 years focusing on each concept that is discussed in the book. The research stems from the theory of parallel distributed processing as well as research that shows the brain is a pattern detector, concluding that there is not any one phonics instructional approach that is the best. Fountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S. (1996). Guided Reading: Good first teaching for all children. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. This informative book on beginning reading for children is written by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, who took Marie Clay’s guided reading and extended the development of it into a program for teachers to individualize a student’s reading instruction. Amid the controversies between whole language and phonics, this book emphasizes the teacher’s role in making decisions for the students, along with explicit instruction on how to observe, record, assess and make scaffolding decisions regarding a student’s reading challenges. There are 200 pages of resources that include book lists, assessments, and classroom resources for teachers to use during the guided reading workshop, these resources help veteran as well as new teachers in their preparation for instruction. There is an in-depth discussion of what guided reading is (and isn’t) citing researchers who have addressed the needs of teaching large groups but not in ways to help a child continue to develop strategies on an individual basis. The authors underscore that teaching students’ strategies to become good readers is done by teaching the teachers the EARLY LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 8 best decision-making strategies to use during teaching time and that it is these very decisions that makes a difference in student success in reading. Fountas and Pinnell use their research knowledge and observations of hundreds of classrooms to inform their creation of the resources in this book. They focus on a constructivist framework that includes oral language, integrated themes, assessment, home/school connections, letter and word work along with observations so the teacher can carefully select materials and organize the environment to allow them to work in small groups while doing individual observations and make teaching choices that move students from one level to the next successfully. Each chapter ends with a section for additional professional development that will help a teacher scaffold their knowledge in the guided reading arena.