Guide to EDUC 408: Literacy Methods in Elementary Schools





Education 408: Literacy Methods in Elementary Schools

What is reading?

Reading is not just a basic skill that is taught once and for all in the first few years of school.

Reading is a complex process.

As experienced readers read, they begin to generate a mental representation, or gist, of the text, which serves as an evolving framework for understanding subsequent parts of the text. As they read further, they test this evolving meaning and monitor their understanding, paying attention to inconsistencies that arise as they interact with the text.

Reading is problem solving.

Reading is not a straightforward process of lifting the words off the page. It is a complex process of problem solving in which the reader works to make sense of a text not just from the words and sentences on the page but also from the ideas, memories, and knowledge evoked by those words and sentences. 

Fluent reading is not the same as decoding.

Skillful reading does require readers to carry out certain tasks in a fairly automatic manner. Decoding skills—quick word recognition and ready knowledge of relevant vocabulary, for example—are essential to successful reading. However, they are by no means suf-ficient, especially when texts are complex or otherwise challenging.

Reading is situationally bounded.

A person who understands one type of text is not necessarily pro-ficient at reading all types.

Proficient readers share some key characteristics.

Good readers are . . .

Mentally engaged,
Motivated to read and to learn,
Socially active around reading tasks,
Strategic in monitoring the interactive processes that assist comprehension:

Setting goals that shape their reading processes,
Monitoring their emerging understanding of a text, and
Coordinating a variety of comprehension strategies to control the reading process.