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ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
FLOYD T. CHRISTIAN, Superintendent
STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
FLOYD T. CHRISTIAN, Superintendent
ELEMENTARY-SCHOOL TEACHERS have long awaited this
much needed guide to teaching the English language arts
in Florida elementary schools. With the publication of this bulle-
tin, the second in a combination of guides designed to provide
support and encouragement to teachers as they attempt to im-
prove instruction in the language arts in grades one through
twelve, teachers are provided with new concepts and fresh ma-
terials which reflect current trends and modern usage.
As was true with the secondary English guide, the usefulness
of this bulletin has been tested in a number of ways. The Florida
Council of Teachers of English spent one day of its annual
meeting in 1964 reviewing and evaluating the work draft. Large
numbers of teachers have used the material experimentally in
their classrooms. Scores of other professional educators have
made suggestions for improving its effectiveness. Before offer-
ing the publication for general distribution, the practical nature
of the document was ensured.
Being practical in nature, this bulletin presents forthrightly
suggestions for teachers to study and apply in their own in-
dividual situations. Although the guide is not intended for equal
application in all situations, it is anticipated, nevertheless, that
few instructional problems in the language arts will arise for
which some new ideas and helpful suggestions cannot be ob-
tained from the guide.
It is recognized that the help that can be obtained from any
curriculum guide, however excellent, is necessarily limited; but
the possibilities offered in this bulletin for improving instruction
in the elementary schools of Florida are impressively numerous.
A statement in the foreword to the secondary guide assesses
realistically what can be expected from that guide. This state-
ment applies equally well in this instance and bears repeating
As teachers you are not asked to follow the guide precisely, not
even to accept it in its entirety. You are asked only to give it careful
consideration and to glean from it any values it may hold for you.
The guide does not answer all questions, and those questions that are
answered may not always provide you with the answers you want or
can accept. I am confident, however, that the teacher who does not
find something helpful in this document will be rare.
The State Department of Education is pleased to present
another bulletin for the guidance and direction of Florida teach-
ers as they strive to teach pupils to read well and to speak and
write correctly and clearly in an age when the need for effective
communication increases with each passing day.
FLOYD T. CHRISTIAN
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
PUBLICATION OF THIS GUIDE is due to the untiring and
productive efforts of a number of teachers, supervisors, ad-
ministrators, college professors, and State Department of Educa-
tion personnel; and the importance of each contribution is rec-
ognized and genuinely appreciated.
Grateful acknowledgment should be extended individually,
however, to the members of the state-wide curriculum guide
committee who assumed the major share of the responsibility
for developing this new curriculum bulletin. Serving on this
committee were Dr. Dwight L. Burton, Professor and Head of
English Education, Florida State University, who served as chair-
man; Miss Barbara Goleman, Head, English Department, Miami
Jackson High School, Miami; Mrs. Bernice L. Hoyle, Curriculum
Assistant, English, Orange County Schools; Miss Margaret Ja-
pour, Head, English Department, Boca Ciega High School, Gulf-
port; Dr. Eleanor M. Ladd, Director of Educational Services,
Pinellas County Schools; Dr. David Stryker, Associate Professor
of English, University of Florida; Dr. Mildred Swearingen, Pro-
fessor of Administration and Supervision, Florida State Univer-
sity; Dr. Evelyn Wenzel, Associate Professor of Elementary
Education, University of Florida; Mrs. Elizabeth White, Director
of Secondary Schools, Southwest District, Dade County Schools;
and Mrs. Martha Willson, Assistant Professor of Elementary Ed-
ucation, Florida State University. Dr. Stryker and Dr. Wenzel, in
addition to other substantial contributions, edited the final manu-
script. Special recognition for valuable assistance is also due Dr.
Patricia Carter, Area Elementary Supervisor, Palm Beach County
Schools, and Dr. Faye Kirtland, Associate Professor of Elemen-
tary Education, Florida State University.
Appreciation is due members of the State Department of
Education who assisted the Committee with the development
of the guide. Mr. Paul Jacobs, former Consultant, Language Arts,
and his successor, Mr. Rodney B. Smith; Mrs. Minnie Hall Fields,
Specialist in Elementary Education; and Miss Minnie Lee Row-
land, Consultant, Elementary Education, are due special recogni-
tion for their numerous editorial contributions and the strong
professional support they gave this project.
Recognition and appreciation are due Dr. Fred W. Turner,
Director, Division of Instructional Services, for his leadership
and encouragement and Dr. Joseph W. Crenshaw, Assistant Di-
rector, General Education and Curriculum, Division of Instruc-
tional Services, who coordinated the work of the Committee,
made helpful editorial suggestions, and assumed the major re-
sponsibility for production of the guide.
We are further indebted to Mr. J. K. Chapman, Mr. Howard
Jay Friedman, and Mr. R. W. Sinclair for suggestions and as-
sistance with lay-out, illustration, and preparation of the guide
Table of Contents
FOREW ORD .................................... i
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ......................... iii
I. THE PLACE OF LANGUAGE IN SCHOOL AND
IN LIFE ....................................... 1
II. PLANNING THE LANGUAGE ARTS PROGRAM 7
III. ORAL EXPRESSION ........................... 34
Part One: Speaking ....................... 34
Part Two: Listening ....................... 47
IV. THE TEACHING OF READING .................. 59
Bibliography ............................. 99
V. LITERATURE ................................. 101
VI. WRITING IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ..... 111
Part One: Written Expression .............. 111
Part Two: Handwriting .................... 132
VII. LANGUAGE STUDY ........................... 140
Part One: Grammar and Usage ............ 143
Part Two: Word Study .................... 157
Part Three: Spelling ...................... 163
Part Four: Dictionary ..................... 183
Bibliography .............................. 187
APPENDIX: A Checklist ....................... 191
The Place of Language
in School and in Life
TANGUAGE IS a priceless possession. Through language, in-
dividuals can communicate their thoughts and feelings and
can apprehend and comprehend what other people have said
To teach the language arts-listening, speaking, reading, and
writing-is a great challenge, for when a teacher develops in
his students language competence, he has released their capacity
for full, rich, direct, first-hand experiences with persons, places,
and things. In addition, he has given those students access to
the cultural wealth of the ages stored in literature.
Words constitute the moril and intellectual climate of human j,> -
life. A teacher of the language arts, consequently has the unc
tion (1) of sharpening the perceptions and deepening under-
standings; (2) of increasing faith in the democratic concepts,
such as the dignity and worth of the individual, man as an end
in himself, in government by persuasion rather than by coercion,
and in the process of cooperation: (3) of developing each in-
dividual's talents for his own satisfaction and for the good of
society; (4) of increasing wisdom, fellowship, and enjoyment
through_.understanding what it is that happens when one hears,
speaks, reads, or writes words; and (5) of building a community
of ideas,jdeals, and aspirations through the emotional and in-
tellectual responses which words call into action.
At both elementary and secondary school levels, the ulti-
mate puipo'se of language arts instruction is the increase in
the power and control of the use of language. Though a teacher
of the language arts must be concerned with developing skills
in the mechanics of oral and silent reading, he is even more
interested in creating attitudes favorable to good books and in
establishing (1) the habit of going to books for whatever they
have to offer the reader in the way of information, verification,
inspiration, and enjoyment and (2) the habits of thinking with
discrimination about what is read and of associating words with
Though a teacher is still interested in subjects and verbs
which agree, in punctuation which will clarify meanings, in
sentence patterns which will communicate effectively what the
pupil wishes to say or to. write; though he is still concerned
with the content and form of social and business letters, he is
even more alert to developing his pupils' awareness as to when
a letter is needed and the habit of writing the needed letter
with attention to its possible effect upon the reader and to the
courtesy of clear and correct language.
The teacher's knowledge of grammar, of speaking and writing
techniques, of oral and silent reading and library skills, of listen-
ing procedures-all this professional knowledge is now, as
always, essential in teaching the language arts. But the spark
which will ignite language power in the student is the teacher's
sensitivity to language as social behavior, his own love of lan-
guage, and his alertness to opportunities in the daily life of
the student for learning how to increase his personal, civic, and
occupational competence through language.
Outcomes of Language Arts Study
.. The Curriculum Commission of the National Council of
S Teachers of English outlines the desirable outcomes of the lan-
guage arts program as these:
1. Wholesome personal development
2. Dynamic and worthwhile allegiance through heightened
moral perception and a personal sense of values
3. Growing intellectual curiosity and capacity for critical
4. Effective use of language in the daily affairs of life
5. Habitual and intelligent use of the mass modes of com-
6. Growing personal interests and increasingly mature
standards of enjoyment
7. Effective habits of work
8. Competent use of language and reading for vocational
9. Social sensitivity and effective participation in the group
10. Faith in and allegiance to the basic values of a demo-
The Interrelatedness of the Language Arts
The major phases of the language arts-listening, speak-
ing, reading, writing-are closely related to one another and to
many aspects of human development. Often the relationship is
reciprocal or spiral, with progress in one area depending upon
growth in another aspect and leading to further growth in the
first area. The language arts bear these interacting relation-
1. -with one another. For instance, an increasing compe-
tence in handwriting and spelling frees a child for greater
fluency in putting his ideas on paper; at the same time,
the genuine need to communicate is alerting him to the
worth of gaining command of spelling and handwriting.
Instruction in one phase of language arts has multiple
values, fortunately, for other phases. Conversely, how-
ever, progress is sometimes discouragingly slow because
of the weight of accompanying factors. Thus a seven-
year-old's newly acquired knowledge of the sequence of
the letters in the words he is writing may break down
under pressure of the rush of ideas he wants to express
or through the distraction of trying to remember rapidly
how to make his pencil form all the letters he wants.
Like man himself, no language arts skill is an island.
2. -with physical development. The degree of development
of small muscles in tongue and lips will have some in-
1 National Council of Teachers of English, Smith, Dora V., ed., The English Language
Arts (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc.. 1952). Reprinted with the permission
of the National Council of Teachers of English.
fluence upon the enunciation used by children; a low de-
gree of hearing acuity may hinder some children in dis-
tinguishing between words having fine differences in
sound, such as end and and, or thin and then. The great
normal variability in amount of physical development,
among children in the same classroom, means that teach-
ers must hold a broad expectation of what members of a
class can do in any specific situation. Teachers need to
become sensitive to growth in individuals rather than ex-
pect uniform achievement in the group.
3. -with emotional status. Most language skills are involved
with the emotional status or condition of the learner. A
child who is frightened, embarrassed, or chagrined is too
preoccupied with his feelings to utilize what'he already
knows, or to see and hear what a teacher is trying to tell
him. Speech, especially, being physiologically an overlaid
function, interacts with emotional tension; that is, the
breathing mechanism, upon which speaking is based, is
instantly and involuntarily influenced by such factors as
heart rate and muscle tension. Kinesis (bodily movement)
and paralanguage (tone and inflection) will tell the alert
teacher much about the degree of a child's well being or
his tension. It is indeed futile to implore a child to read
"with expression" when the struggle to recognize and pro-
nounce each word is causing him to expend full effort
upon each symbol and give it a final inflection, or when
his over-riding awareness is of a dozen pairs of eyes turned
4. -with thought processes. The earliest stages of language
development and thinking are apparently closely related.
Psychologists, physiologists, linguists, and anthropologists
are among the many scholars today who are trying to
fathom the workings of the nervous system of the human
being and his culture in letting symbols stand for ex-
periences and in manipulating symbols in old and new
thought patterns. Much remains unknown or obscure at
the present time, but apparently the pre-school and early
school years are crucial in the development of language
and thinking. The interdependence of language and think-
ing is frequently observable. For instance, middle-grade
children know quite well the use of the period in mark-
ing the end of a sentence; yet they often write without
periods, for they are still thinking in run-on sentences.
They may also fail to use commas in setting off de-
pendent clauses, because their thinking is not yet refined
enough to lead them to see that one idea is subordinate
5. -with family culture and daily experience. Children come
to school with well-established communication systems al-
ready learned at home and in the neighborhood. Whether
the systems are of high or low quality in terms of stand-
ard English, the child (1) usually does communicate ef-
fectively for his current purposes, (2) he does so without
conscious analysis of how he is proceeding, and (3) his
own ways will be reinforced daily even while the school
attempts to get him to change his habits. Before coming
to school, the child has mastered a large speaking vo-
cabulary, sentence patterns, and the kinesis and paralan-
guage of communication (all without benefit of lessons).
Generally he feels little need to change his ways of ex-
pression and has no sense of urgency about assuming the
school's rigid taxonomy and technical vocabulary for de-
scribing what he does. Hence, changing language patterns
is a larger task than might be supposed at first glance.
6. -with social and economic competence. While children
and adults can often communicate meanings clearly with-
out using standard language forms, there is, nevertheless,
a severe social penalty for sustained, gross error in lan-
guage habits. Upward social mobility is often helped
(or hindered) by the extent to which an individual can
achieve acceptable speaking and writing habits. In the
economic arena the present generation of adults has seen
a shift from "not enough room at the top" for the persons
with highly developed language skills to "no room at the
bottom" for the thousands of persons who have limited
and sub-standard language habits. The great social and
economic demand for communication skill is a powerful
incentive to the individual for continuous growth and to
the school for finding better and better ways of facilitating
The tracing of the above interrelationships (1) indicates
the far-reaching effects of instruction in language arts and (2)
gives perspective as to the size and nature of the problems
involved in trying to achieve a high level of language skill
and power. Without a proper respect for the size and complexity
of the task being attempted, it is easy to underestimate the time
and energy needed for the job. Without a proper analysis of
the nature of the task, it is easy to approach the task with
inappropriate and inadequate tools and techniques. There is a
temptation for adults (both parents and teachers) to ascribe
lack of progress to the child's laziness, carelessness, indifference,
or slow-learning, whereas the real trouble is in failing to grasp
the size and nature of the task. There is no need for discour-
agement, only need for adequate assessment of the job.
It should be remembered, too, that an educational experience
has long-range effects. This long-range influence is especially
apparent in the development of language skill and power, where
sometimes progress is almost imperceptible at the moment of
instruction but where growth is discernible in subsequent
months and years.
Planning the Language Arts Program
W AS THERE EVER a time when a principal handed a
teacher a program of instruction, and thereafter the
teacher discoursed upon a certain page upon a certain day?
Guides to instruction are not dicta and dogma; further, they
should not be crutches. Authority for the language arts program
resides in no individual educator; rather, it evolves from the close
cooperative planning of a number of people, especially the prin-
cipal, the teachers, and the local supervisory staff. It is distributed
among all the people active in the planning and eventually the
implementing of the language arts program. Most experimental
school programs which have been successful were not initiated
by administrators and supervisors, but grew from the interest
and sharing on the part of teachers, stimulated by the encour-
agement, advice, and guidance of informed principals and super-
Thanks to the tenth month for teachers in Florida public
schools, there is now more time for planning the school's total
curriculum. Even with the additional twenty days, however,
planning cannot be confined to pre-school and post-school pe-
riods. There must be additional time when the individual
teacher can survey his own work and when he and his fellow
teachers involved in similar activities can view the entire in-
structional program together and plot its general course.
Many faculties set aside a regular day of the week for meet-
ings and devote a certain number-perhaps one each month-
for grade level or subject area topics. It is during these times
that they, with the help of the principal, the librarian, and
the supervisor, carefully examine the school's curriculum and
plan for its revision or further development. Responsible for the
school's total curriculum, they must together take these steps:
1. Design a unified developmental program which includes
all of the English language arts in relationship to each
other and as an indispensable part of the other curriculum
areas. Such a program should be characterized by balance,
continuity, sequence, variety, and flexibility.
2. Clarify the nature of each person's role and the inter-
locking responsibilities of all persons involved.
3. Strengthen each individual's commitment to the program.
4. Agree upon solutions to problems which significantly bear
upon or modify the total program.
5. Keep communication channels open.
As principal, faculty, and supervisor work together to develop
a language arts curriculum, they make decisions regarding the
1. What are the language arts needs of the children in this
school, and how can these needs best be met through the
total language arts program?
2. Toward what goals should the language arts program be
3. In the light of the goals, what is the best way to select
and organize language arts content?
a. Will instruction in each of the language arts areas be
provided during a large block of time?
b. Will the integrated approach in which the skills are
taught in relation to each other and to the situations in
which they function be employed?
c. How will language arts instruction be provided as a part
of all other curricular areas and school experiences?
d. What are the concepts, skills, and appreciations which
children should develop?
4. Which instructional materials, equipment, and supplies are
a. Which textbook series should be used as the basal ones
in reading? Which literature series should be used along
with basal materials?
b. Which language, handwriting, and spelling texts should
be used? Which dictionaries?
c. Which films, filmstrips, recordings, newspapers, maga-
zines, and other printed material should be used?
d. Which repetitive practice materials, if any, should be
e. What supplies are essential (chart paper, felt-tip pens,
5. Which instructional practices will be useful to all teachers?
a. To what extent should we adhere to suggestions in
b. For what purposes should pupils be grouped for lan-
guage arts instruction?
c. What guidelines should be observed when practice ma-
terials are used?
d. How may diagnostic tests be used as an aid in planning
and conducting individual learning experiences?
6. How should outcomes be evaluated?
a. What instruments and procedures would be appropriate
for evaluating pupil progress?
b. How should cumulative reading records and writing
folders of each pupil be initiated, maintained, and used?
c. What provisions should be made for teacher self-
d. How should the Checklist in the appendix of this guide
be utilized in the evaluation of this school's language
7. To what extent and in what manner shall parents partici-
pate in the planning of the language arts program?
8. How can the staff improve the language arts program and
simultaneously enhance their professional competency?
The Unique Roles of Individual Participants in Planning
To build a successful language arts program in any school
requires teamwork. Members of the team are specialists and
have definite roles to play for successful curriculum planning
Role of the Principal
Regardless of his other duties, the primary responsibility of
the elementary school principal is curriculum improvement. How
he as an individual interprets this responsibility will vary from
the way another principal interprets it, just as one good teacher
may differ from another. But he will make every effort to ac-
complish the following:
1. Keep abreast of developments and experimentation in
the language arts, particularly at the elementary level.
2. See that information on current developments in the
language arts is available to his teachers.
3. Encourage teachers to become active members of the
local, state, and national councils of teachers of English
and the local, state, and national reading associations.
4. Maintain an atmosphere which fosters friendly discus-
sion and the sharing of ideas.
5. Respond positively to suggestions for creative teaching,
and offer them himself.
6. Refer teachers to any and all resources which can be of
help to them as they attempt to improve the instruction
in their classrooms.
7. Maintain balance among all facets of the school's cur-
8. Encourage teachers to experiment and, should they fail,
help them to analyze their failure for the benefit of future
experimentation and progress.
9. Interpret the school's language arts program to the public
and serve as liaison for community agencies. (This re-
sponsibility sometimes calls for protection of the school
from encroachment of public demands.)
10. Share freely the honors and successes of the school with
11. Remember always that he is legally responsible for the
school and every aspect of its program and operation.
Role of the Teacher
No one would deny the importance of the role of the teacher
in planning the language arts curriculum. It is second to none.
Although he teaches all subjects, the elementary teacher is
aware of the basic function of the language arts in the pupil's
learning of all subjects. In order to be most effective in planning
for language arts instruction, the teacher must possess the follow-
1. Understanding of child growth and development and of
the principles of learning
2. Mastery of his subject
3. Knowledge of teaching methods and techniques
4. Ability to keep abreast of developments in education, and
assess them intelligently
5. Willingness to experiment, and sometimes even to fail.
The responsibility of teaching lies with the classroom teacher.
Further, the rewards-the intangibles for which all educators
work-go to him, from second-hand lollipop sticks on up.
Role of the Supervisor
The supervisor in the local school system is a resource per-
son whom the principal most often turns to for assistance in
planning the curriculum. It is the principal's responsibility
to marshall the resources of the supervisor in improving the
quality of instruction in the language arts program. The final
decisions are the responsibility of the individual school.
The role of the supervisor is primarily leadership in helping
teachers or principals to explore their problems and to find
satisfactory solutions to them. In his role he tries to ascertain
how teachers see their responsibilities, how they work both as
individuals and as groups, and how they find ways to deal with
Some of the specific activities of the supervisor are:
1. Helping to identify goals and finding ways of moving to-
ward them; e.g., deciding which problem to tackle first,
summarizing what is being done, finding clues for action,
locating pitfalls, and putting ideas together in meaningful
2. Demonstrating the findings of research and providing in-
formation and training in the techniques needed by teach-
ers to do the instructional job
3. Giving information about basic principles and procedures
of curriculum development and of child growth and learn-
4. Selecting and coordinating learning materials and resources
and putting them into usable form for teachers
5. Helping to locate spots in the program needing attention,
and planning for in-service education
6. Encouraging experimentation and helping teachers to find
ways of putting ideas into action
7. Planning for visitations
8. Finding many ways of bringing knowledge and stimula-
tion together so as to encourage teachers to re-examine
what they are doing
9. Assisting in evaluating the total language arts program.
Role of the Parent
Parents have more than a casual interest in the child's growth
in the language arts program and should have a part in planning
his learning experiences. They have become seasoned observers
of the child's progress over a period of time, and they know
whether or not the child is responding to the program in a
positive way. They have some knowledge of the child's ability
to use language and of his total development in the ability to
communicate. Often they are equipped with valuable information
which the school needs in order to develop the most effective
language arts program.
The parents should have an opportunity to share in building
values in the program. It is important that the home and school
work hand in hand in building certain work habits and attitudes
that will contribute to the child's success in his school ex-
periences. Parents can provide information about the child and
offer services to the school. The school can help the parents
understand that the total development of the child requires an
atmosphere in which wholesome growth can be realized.
The school and home should plan ways of working together.
Some schools hold conferences with parents before school opens
or shortly thereafter to learn something about the child's back-
ground and interests, and sometimes to solicit help. Both parents
and teachers benefit from the sharing process. As they com-
municate through group and individual conferences and as they
cooperate in many other ways, they gain a better understanding
of how to extend and enrich all educational experiences for the
Fitting the Language Arts into the School's Total Curriculum
Schools must decide carefully how they will meet the de-
mands and protect the individuality of their students. Just as
the relationship of the language arts to the whole field of learn-
ing must be considered, the relative position of language arts
as a portion of the academic time must be examined. What
portion of the day should be devoted to language arts in pro-
portion to mathematics, science, and other subjects? Are there
to be distinct divisions into arbitrarily defined disciplines, and
what are these disciplines to be? All school personnel must
weigh what is known of how context determines the advance
of learning and of how organization is necessary to advance
an effective program of education.
All who participate in curriculum planning will find no
ready-made answer among the existing systems of organization,
for the variety is endless. But the clear responsibility of the
elementary school is to see to it that the child is exposed to
the curriculum geared to his own stage of ability and maturity.
The relative importance of the matter to be learned must be
considered when presented to the learner.
Structuring the Language Arts Program Horizontally
Although there is much pressure to extend the scope and
depth of subject matter to be mastered in the elementary
school as well as in later stages of education, it must be rec-
ognized that mastery of content is dependent upon the grasp
of the individual child. Pupils come from families of varying
sizes, levels of income, living conditions, and types of communi-
ties. It has been said that our public is quick to forgive a
physical handicap, but intolerant of a slow learner or a "late
bloomer." Whatever handicaps and special abilities exist, the
school must make available not simply a curriculum content, but
provisions for the individual children partaking.
The charge has been made that schools become so concerned
with talented students and with potential dropouts that the bulk
of the population, the normal student, is seriously neglected.
Nonetheless, the reality of individual differences often makes
necessary some form of grouping for special consideration at
The Culturally Deprived
This term is not confined to any one ethnic group. Some
families are typified by high mobility, frequent unemployment,
inadequate diet, and a general lack of access to creative arts
such as reading, pictorial art forms, music, dance, and others.
Lack of emotional or economic security affects school achieve-
ment and makes standard language usage unimportant.
Not only the pedagogue, but the man in the street-in all
the streets-agrees that appropriate experiences must be pro-
vided for talented children. Their potential contribution to our
society must be capitalized upon. It is the identification which
is difficult. Talent has been conceded not to be synonymous with
intelligence, and definitions of the IQ have tended to become
nebulous as standardized testing becomes a more integral part
of the school program. Creativity does not lend itself to verbal
description which can be easily translated into an academic pro-
gram. Yet, the school must recognize that some grouping is
necessary to meet the needs of the individual student and that
continuity and relatedness must be a part of the educational
experience of each child.
Organizing for Instruction
It cannot be said that the educational system ignores the
demands of a changing society, nor the impact of the space
age. School programs have been reorganized experimentally in
many cases. The more successful programs have not been im-
posed by administrators, but have been studied and implemented
by joint effort and agreement of teachers, administrators, and
supervisors. Evaluation and revision have been features of the
implementation. Some plans have been viewed with alarm by
members of the profession; some have been viewed as having
merit but being too costly to implement; most have been locally
tailor-made to fit the particular school and program. The ad-
ministrative techniques briefly mentioned below apply to the
school program as a whole, and the language arts program is
often the center of a three-pronged thrust of the educational
program (language arts, social studies, mathematical sciences).
These organizational patterns are not the property of language
arts only, but must be included in a discussion of curriculum
Non-Grading and Multi-Grading
Aware that any grade level, so-called, is arbitrary, many
schools are attempting breakaways from the nomenclature of
"grades." The graded structure has been criticized as a "lock
step" by educators who insist that "grades" stifle initiative and
punish the weak students by putting them through the same
"lock step" again. The graded system assumes a year's progress
in a year's time by all students.
The non-graded plan calls for flexibility in use of equipment
and space and for adjustments in the curriculum usually as-
signed to grade levels. There is no specific time required for
completion of materials. Flexible arrangements in grouping and
in instruction are made so as to allow the children to proceed at
their own individual learning rates. Various methods of grouping
children are used, and some schools change children from group
to group at irregular intervals.
In the multi-grading system, children who have similar goals;
chronological ages, or qualities which seem to indicate that they
could work well together are assigned to the same classroom
grouping. There may be several grade-spans in the group. In the
non-graded organization, the pupil's progress is unbroken. There
may be regrouping from time to time. The non-graded situation
may be continued throughout the child's public school career,
or it may be terminated at a certain level where some other
form of pupil grouping or assignment is in effect.
In these methods of grouping children for instruction, em-
phasis is placed on continuous development and successful
achievement. The child does not face the stigma of failing, but
he continues learning at a rate somewhat commensurate with
An organizational design which has commanded considerable
attention is that of teachers working in teams of two or more
with a group of children. A common complaint about the ele-
mentary teacher is that he cannot be adequately skilled in giving
instruction in all of the areas of curriculum. Many elementary
teachers, however, report that they enjoy the variety of their
days and they are competent at the levels at which they teach.
They are not expected to be high-level specialists. Team teach-
ing philosophy recognizes no particular conflict in either posi-
There are, perhaps, as many interpretations of team teaching
as there are teachers participating in teams. The Harvard plan
lends itself to administrative installation. It involves a team
leader who makes plans for the group and relies on teacher aides
to help carry out the plans. There must be close planning and
close association among the members of the group. In the hands
of a master teacher as leader, it could be a good learning situa-
tion. A danger might be the stifling of individual initiative on the
part of some members of the teaching team.
Many teams have begun from teachers "talking shop" with a
receptive administrator. Teachers may capitalize on special abili-
ties and keep in touch with all phases of the curriculum by close
planning and by the sharing of ideas.
1. The student may be exposed to a more flexible curricu-
lum and more stimulating contacts in education.
2. Large groups can easily give way to small groups for what-
ever method makes for effective instruction.
3. Children have the opportunity to profit by contact with
different teachers' personalities, interests, and instruc-
4. More advantageous use can be made of materials, aids, and
building space by planning, by teacher release for prepara-
tion, by immediate discussions of problems in small groups,
and by ability to make on-the-spot plans to capitalize on a
fleeting situation which might promise rich educational re-
1. There is a maximum to the number of pupils whom a
teacher can meet and effectively guide in the course of a
2. Some building facilities limit the extent to which an effec-
tive team can operate.
3. Some individuals do their best teaching in a self-contained
4. A large amount of time-consuming organizational work is
Large Group Instruction
Flexible school organization demands the right to invent, bor-
row, or change any educational idea which indicates promise for
learning. Most team teaching situations feature some large group
instruction, although this is not necessarily a part of team teach-
ing. Facilities limit the extent to which this teaching device can
be used, as does the age level of the students involved. Young
children seldom profit from it.
Some of the reasons in favor of large group instruction are:
1. The presentation of a project, a report, or a lecture which
does not permit student interruption at any point (e.g., a
television program, a movie, or a committee report) can
be just as effective with a large group as with a small
2. In a team situation of three or four teachers, one may be
freed for setting up a future activity of consequence to the
3. The large group affords opportunities for reactions from a
greater number of pupils.
Some of the reasons in opposition to large group instruction
1. There are insufficient opportunities for pupil interaction
in large group situations.
2. There are fewer opportunities for discussion and clarifica-
tion of ideas.
3. Large group instruction places the major burden of learn-
ing on listening and note-taking. Few elementary-aged
children are able to use these skills effectively as yet.
4. It reduces the personal contacts between children and their
5. Some teachers are not effective leaders of large groups.
Instructional television as a primary method of instruction is
somewhat at war with TV as an enrichment of the regular class-
room pursuits. Nevertheless, when this medium is appropriately
and properly used, it justifies itself.
Effective Use of ITV
1. If presented by a superior teacher, televised programs can
stimulate the student viewing the presentation. Viewing
should be motivated.
2. Follow-up of the presentation by the classroom teacher
may open many avenues of investigation which might not
arise in a more confined situation.
3. If television instruction is effective, there must be ade-
quate facilities and a climate free from distractions.
4. Pupils must be made a part of what they have viewed by
repeated contact with it in their small classroom situation.
Continued research in the area of instructional television has
the potential to enrich vastly the education of boys and girls.
However, as the researcher continues his work, other educators
must evaluate carefully and must continue to see that offerings
fit the needs of the pupils viewing the programs. Continued re-
search and experimentation are vital but so are on-going evalua-
tion and revision.
Departmentalization has been a controversial subject for
years. Although it has been tried, discarded, and revived a num-
ber of times, it is not generally practiced below grade seven. It
is usually thought that children in the early years should be un-
der the guidance of one teacher for a greater portion of the
school day. When it is practiced it is commonly found in special
areas such as art, music, and physical education, with an occa-
sional group working in social studies, science, or mathematics.
Some of the advantages claimed for departmentalization are:
1. It is not possible for a teacher to know all subjects in the
elementary curriculum well.
2. Teachers do better teaching when they teach the subject
they like best.
3. Children may master the content better when taught by a
specialist in the area.
4. Teachers have less preparation in planning when they
teach only one subject.
Some of the disadvantages claimed for departmentalization
1. Effective guidance of children in the early years requires
the teacher to be with children long enough to know them
2. Many young children have difficulty in adjusting to a large
number of teachers.
3. Teachers have difficulty in knowing children as individuals
in large groups.
4. Organization of curriculum into broad areas requires chil-
dren to be with one teacher for longer periods than is pos-
sible with departmentalization.
5. Interrelationships in the program are broken down and
difficulty is encountered in following through on related
6. Teachers who are highly subject matter oriented often
tend to be more interested in the subject than in the child.
While classed with techniques of organization, programed in-
struction is a device for caring for the difference in rate of
learning of individual pupils. Programed instruction is a work-
book type of approach to learning. Progress is presented in min-
ute steps which make teacher explanation less necessary to mas-
tery of the subject, and the student may complete his work as
rapidly or as slowly as need be. In effect, the program could be
carried on at home as well as in school, except that the only re-
course to a mistake is to complete the whole operation. If the
pupil repeats a mistake, a teacher becomes a necessary adjunct
to the program.
1. The individual rate of learning is provided for.
2. It is not necessary that the entire class be involved in pro-
gramed instruction. It could be used with exceptional stu-
dents to provide needed outlets.
3. Usually the materials are reusable.
1. Has the student the incentive to keep working when learn-
ing steps are so small as to have obvious conclusions?
2. Does the absence of conflict of opinion take away some of
the "spice" of the learning game?
3. In the language arts area, how much importance should be
given to a medium which is not a responsive means of
communication, such as speaking and writing?
Undoubtedly, use of some self-instructional materials can be
valuable. As to how valuable, continued supervision, research,
and study are needed.
The majority of elementary schools continue to instruct pu-
pils in the same classroom situation for all or most of a school
day and under the primary direction of one teacher. Aside from
this generalization, the instruction received by a pupil in a self-
contained class and that received by another enrolled in another
self-contained classroom may vary extremely or moderately.
Resource teachers may relieve a teacher for one or more peri-
ods. They may teach art, or physical education, or music-or in
another situation, the resource teacher might assist with instruc-
tion of mathematics, or science, or some other subject consid-
ered more academic than those related to the fine arts. In some
situations the resource teacher is considered a resource for teach-
ing techniques only, and the classroom instructor maintains re-
sponsibility for the program.
School classes may be heterogeneously grouped-which cus-
tomarily means that the students are randomly grouped as to
ability, as to boys and girls, or as to other criteria the school may
use to distinguish pupils. The terms heterogeneous and homoge-
neous have come to be generally applied to academic achieve-
ment, although the means for determining the standard of
judging academic achievement are still flexible and vary from
place to place. In some places a test is the means chosen, but
usually testing will be tempered with some allowance for teacher
judgment, grades, and other criteria.
Within each classroom, there will need to be numerous, flexi-
ble groups in order to meet effectively the individual needs of
the children. A child will fit in one group for one thing, in an-
other for a different learning experience. His groups change or
dissolve according to his growth and interest changes.
All of the brief discussions above are honest, sincere efforts
on the part of a concerned profession to do the best job possible
of training youngsters to live rich, useful lives. It is not an un-
usual picture to find combinations of the above techniques exist-
ing in the same school. Today's schools are searching with awak-
ened vigor for new ways to better prepare students to become
tomorrow's mature citizens. Some teachers find that they can
work together and form teams; others prefer to continue their
own contained day with the freedom of large blocks of time for
pursuing projects. Sometimes one experiment will be tried, and
the result will be continuance and expansion of an idea; again, it
may be abandoned in favor of an earlier technique. The end re-
sult is good in that a fresh approach and open-mindedness are
maintained. Pure forms of the experiments described are seldom
found. Schools have a way of tailoring ideas to their own likings.
'Y'" Fitting the Language Arts Program to the Child
S-' Recognizing Individual Differences
/ The child brings a background of communication to school
which strongly affects his behavior and influences all his activ-
ity. He makes his own special contribution to the classroom
group through his language experiences. He speaks, he writes,
he listens, he reads, and he interacts with all who are there. He
interprets the world as he sees it through use of these skills. Not
only does he bring with him a language background but he re-
flects his awareness and sharpens his understanding of people
and things through it. The way he feels about himself and about
others is reflected in his speech and writing. His hopes, his ambi-
tions, his fears, his feeling of at-homeness are all revealed as he
uses his ability to communicate.
The school should provide opportunities for children to de-
velop skills and to extend their values in all facets of the lan-
guage arts program. The teacher should establish an accepting
climate and encourage free expression of ideas which help each
child to take steps in developing his language patterns. The joy
of discovering and using new words and ideas should become
an essential part of his adjustment to a world of language.
Grouping for Instruction
, The problem of grouping children for instruction has long
been a subject of discussion in* ..the "gl.tg -,'a seh Research
has not provided conclusive evidence about the wrong and right
ways of grouping. Many types of grouping have been tried, but
none has been found adequate for all purposes.fStudies seem to
indicate that children grouped according to ability are no more
likely to progress at a more rapid rate than are children placed
in more heterogeneous groups. The whole notion of achieving
homogeneity in groups has also been generally disprovedJ
Due to a lack of conclusive information on grouping and be-
cause of the varied learning expected in the language arts pro-
gram, it seems reasonable to conclude that no one way of
grouping will serve all the purposes equally well. A well-
balanced program will require aried types of grouping, each
used for the purpose it fits best The question is not one of choos-
ing between two types of orga zation'ul aher' one of fusing
the best features of each into a program designed to achieve the
maximum growth of each child.
Determining Grouping Policies
The grouping policies in a school depend to a large extent
upon what the administrators, the teachers, and the parents be-
lieve that the school should be doing for children. What the
principal thinks affects in many ways not only the attitudes
about grouping but about everything the school attempts to do
for the child. It is, therefore, important that the teachers and the
principal, working with the parents, coordinate their efforts in
order to plan effective grouping policies for the school.
It is the responsibility of the principal to work with the
teachers in establishing well defined policies in regard to group-
ing for instruction and in finding ways to implement the deci-
sions in instructional practices. It is his job to bring the program
into sharp focus so that the policies are in accord with sound
principles of growth and learning. Furthermore, he should see
that the policies are flexible and realistic enough for teachers to
actually recognize individual differences and make changes
needed in the classroom. The best that can be said is that the
principal should be constantly alert to changing trends and to
opportunities to work with the staff in effecting change and in
accomplishing the school's objectives.
Bases for G~upi
R Research has provided areponderance of evidence to sup-
ort individualization of instruction.Ths implies that any at-
tempt to teach children in a single group at all times 'i imun-
qluestionably *lQa-oBaliJehitnt ef~ ,a hd-n.J ILfthe
individual is the best unit for teaching, then grouping will be-
come effective to the degree that it approaches individualized
instruction. Common sense tells us that we should not teach
children in groups all the time. Neither should we teach them
individually all the time. Studies support the need for flexible
grouping where attention is paid to uniqueness and where chil-
dren can progress according to their own abilities.
From the research accumulated, we are led to believe that
the learning situation depends more on the understanding of
the teacher than on any type of grouping we devise. It will,
indeed, be unfortunate if we seek a homogeneity that cannot
exist and find that we have compounded rather than solved
the problem of dealing with individual differences.
The school must face the fact that no matter what grouping
procedure is used it is merely a means to an end and it must
be carefully studied and kept in balance. To see the values and
limitations and to acquire the courage and wisdom to make
change when necessary require the best thinking of all educators.
Grouping Within the School
It makes good sense to say that some form of grouping is
necessary in setting up class groups and in planning experiences
for children in the classroom. In the preceding section it was
emphasized that the chief purpose of grouping is to provide a
situation for adjusting instruction to individual differences.
Yet, in some schools children are assigned to teachers or groups
with little attention to individual differences or the individual
child. On the other hand, some schools are set up almost entirely
for individual instruction. Most schools stand somewhere in be-
tween these two extremes with a program emphasizing the vary-
ing individual needs of children.
.t must be recognized that there is no magic in groups amd
tbat-gruiping-Js-t-"-t-ai a Its. u mus tj
the child and change as the child changes. Each child needs to
be placed in a group in which he has a sense of belonging and
in which his individuality is recognized. The continuousbalanced
growth of each child, in accordance with his readiness an d
understanding rather than with arbitrary grade standards A '
the school's goal. Included in this objective is the teaching of
the communication skills, which can be taught satisfactorily in
situations in which group stimulation as well as individual in-
struction is provided.
Groupingis a ce w e teachers to lead children,
each according to his n growth pattern into continuous.
rounded development from arly hil d nd to adllthoQE In
order to group in a wholesome manner, principals and teachers
should weigh many factors before a child is placed in a group
or working team. Sometime before the close of the school year
or before the new term opens, the staff should plan together
for each child's placement in a class group. They will need to
consider such factors as the child's interests, his maturity, his
health, his self-reliance, his intelligence, and his feelings about
himself and others. His personal history, health records, test
scores, class summary, and guidance record should give help in
determining to which group he will be assigned. The same pro-
cedure of constructive planning should be used throughout the
Grouping Within the Classroom
/ Although thfgeneral plan of grouping is determined by the
total school staff, the individual teacher must adapt within the
framework prop sed. For instance, 4the teacher must decide how
many groups he will need, how to form sub-groups for special
purposes, andliow to make groups work effectively. There
are no elsA hf-' wers to these questions. Each must beanswered
in-termsof_ thedeveloping situation an-in light of the best
possible evidence that can be found about how children grow
Each teacher must determine his own number of class groups,
and each group must stand on its own merits. In some class-
rooms there may be two or three groups at one time while in
others there may be as many as five or six. On some occasions
,I/'a class may work as a single group. On other occasions an in-
dividual may constitute the unit. The groups may vary from
S day to day and from week to week, depending upon such mat-
ters as the philosophy of the school, class size, pupil differences,
UL and materials construction Groups should change in composi-
tion and purpose as the situation changes. No one pattern-of
groupingw~il e appropriate in all classrooms. The group should
always serve. a useful purpose, and the general welfare oLall
members of the group should be considered at all times.
Inaddition to general class groupings, there will be a need
for subgroups from time to time for specific purposes.'They may
be formed to give children practice in specific skills, to do re-
search, or to follow a special interest. There w-ill obviously be
considerable differences in rate of learning in most groups. It is
important to recognize that there will and should be an increase
in the range of abilities and interests of children as they move
through the program. The goal, then, should be to broaden and
extend the range of differences rather than to bring about uni-
formity in learning.
S Teachers who are successful in meeting individual differences
do much more than provide flexible grouping. They also work
vith ~ children within groups who. have special interests or prob-
lems. For example, it is not uncommon to find a teacher of a
beginning group helping with more than one level of activity.
Ini one group he may listen to children dictate a story about a
trip; with another group he may discuss interesting things about
words; in still another he may help an individual to write about
what he sees. In a later grade he may vary theprocedure further
by-assigning a pupil to work with a classmate who needs spe-
It is obvious that teachers must differentiate instruction in
groups and between groups. One promising way to differentiate
instruction is to organize work around centers of interest. In
this type of instruction children work as individuals and as
groups according to their abilities and interests, each carrying
his own load of responsibility. Sometimes total class instruction
will be given, while at other times groups or individuals will
work on special projects of significance to them.
The good teacher often finds it desirable to move children
from group to group to facilitate progress. When change is nec-
essary it should be done without celebration and without giving
Sundue attention to any individual or any group. This seems to
be easier when varied grouping is practiced and when change is
expected. Children who see themselves realistically do not tend
to classify themselves as the "poorest" or "best" in a group
when instruction is organized in this manner.
One of the most persistent problems the school will have to
face is that of finding resources and materials to meet the needs
of teachers and pupils. Identifying resources and materials means
more than a casual look at the problem. It includes a sensi-
tivity to the need for certain types of information and data that
are pertinent to the learning process. This requires many skills
and abilities calling for many types of materials and resources
to help in examining alternatives.
It is important that adequate provision for evaluation of both
materials and other resources be made by the total school staff.
Particular attention should be given to a careful selection of
materials that have been evaluated in the classroom over a pe-
riod of time so that teachers will not be overloaded with ma-
terials that they do not need or will not use. This should be
particularly true in appraising the current avalanche of materials
and gadgets that are purported to make the language arts pro-
gram better than before. Many of these materials are useful,
but some basic criteria for their selection and use are needed.
The need and availability of resources and materials may be
clearly established, and yet there may be the problem of chan-
neling them for effective use. The problem should be worked out
by the total school staff. The task, then, would be to set up a
coordinated plan for using resources and materials in the most
effective manner to implement the program.
Through the years, language arts teachers have relied on
textbooks in language skills and in literature as sources of help.
Teachers consider textbooks essential today, but with increased
understanding of child growth and development and with clari-
fication of the objectives of the language arts program has come
a changed concept of how textbooks can be used most effectively.
No longer is the textbook considered a prescribed course of
study through which all pupils progress in a pre-arranged pat-
tern, at the same rate of speed. The textbook is a tool for learn-
ing, available for teachers and pupils when the material in it
seems suitable and effective for the purpose at hand. Language
texts serve as guides for listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Literature texts are particularly useful for group reading or for
individual reading as a basis for group discussions. Teachers
should encourage boys and girls to become familiar with the
organization and content of their texts and to develop skill in
using them purposefully as the need arises.
It is the principal's responsibility to initiate a plan for a text-
book program which provides teachers the opportunity to req-
uisition textbooks in terms of planned use. The nature of the
text and the teaching methods to be employed are factors in
determining how many copies should be available and how they
should be used. As teachers and principals choose and use text-
books more effectively, opportunities for learning will be in-
It is recognized that the textbook must be supplemented by
many other tools to ensure the best environment for learning.
Supplementary books, films, newspapers, magazines, and record-
ings offer rich possibilities for teaching the language arts. For
this reason, the principal must be concerned with developing a
good materials center.
Instructional Materials Center
One of the first steps in planning a good language arts
program is to equip a good materials center consisting of a
central library and other materials suited for children's use.
From recognition of individual differences of children and
from the possibilities of many new and worthwhile materials,
has come the realization that a good library is an integral part
of the environment for learning in the elementary school. The
library is essential regardless of the particular type of curriculum
organization. The library should serve as an important part of
the materials center, offering many types of materials to meet
the many needs of pupils. In addition, the library program should
provide guidance in the selection and use of materials.
In addition to library materials, schools have come to depend
on a variety of other printed materials and audio-visual aids
as essential parts of language arts instruction. Included are ma-
terials such as charts, graphs, programed materials, pictures,
models, recordings, films, filmstrips, photographs, projectors,
television sets, radios, and various resource materials found in
The selection and organization of these materials require
skill in planning on the part of all school personnel. A system
of classifying and distributing is needed. The advantage of keep-
ing materials together where a central catalog can be main-
tained should be strongly emphasized. Decisions should be made
as to the use children will make of the materials and as to
when they no longer serve a useful purpose and need to be dis-
carded or replaced.
A part of the materials center should be a useful collection
of materials that can be accumulated with little or no expense
to the school. Such a collection should include exhibits, speci-
mens, current magazines, post cards, flat pictures, puppets,
photographs, records, and various kinds of materials designed
to be used in the opaque projector and on the bulletin boards.
In addition to this collection, there should be a file listing re-
sources of the community, including pictures and other ma-
terials related to people, organizations, institutions, industries,
and places which help to enrich the school program.
The materials center is no longer thought of as a place to
deposit books or to show off materials to visitors. It is an es-
sential factor in the school's organization. Through creative
leadership in the school, all those affected by the center should
be stimulated to work cooperatively in order to achieve these
1. A school librarian, educated to understand boys and girls
and their problems, teachers and their goals and methods,
and the selection, organization, and use of all types of in-
2. Library quarters, with space and equipment to provide the
best organization and use of materials, and made attractive
and inviting by the use of color, flowers, pictures, and
3. Materials of instruction, including books, magazines, films,
filmstrips, projectors, recordings, maps, globes, charts, still
pictures-all the media of communication which make
learning and teaching interesting and effective
4. An annual appropriation, adequate to provide the materials
and supplies to keep the center alive and challenging
5. A program of service cooperatively developed and con-
tinuously evaluated to ensure its effectiveness in helping
teachers and pupils.
(Specific help in planning materials centers can be found in
Bulletin 22E, Planning Materials Centers, published by the Flor-
ida State Department of Education.)
Creativity in the Program
Since World War II psychologists have quietly suggested that
educators must consider the fallibility of aptitude and intelligence
testing. Many studies would debunk our testing program. Some
theories would advance creativity as a criterion for performance.
At the present date, tests of creativity are inconclusive. In fact,
most of the definitions of creativity seem to describe some qual-
ity which some creative children, but not all, have. Educators
may find the evaluative check list included elsewhere of more
value in determining the school language arts program of a
Once, teaching was of the inventory method, that is, the ac-
cumulation and storing of knowledge. The present method seems
to be a transaction which takes place in the pupil's mind. The
knowledge must be experientially used. Generally, rules and
structure are more effectively learned if arrived at by the in-
ductive or discovery method. This is an alternative to the tell-
ing-and-practice method or rule and application method. This
emphasis is new only in that its application is being extended
to more and more fields of the curriculum with the advance of
science and technology.
Learning opportunities must be provided to ensure conti-
nuity in learning experiences as the child moves from one level
of development to another. The existing program must be con-
stantly evaluated for challenge, interest, and contribution to the
needs of children. The horizon of learning should be an ex-
panding one as the child continually raises his standards of per-
formance. Rigor is not sufficient. Mature development depends
upon the child's skill in seeing meaningful relationships. Neither
teacher nor child must lose sight of the frame of reference.
Teachers must hold fast to the principle that learning must
be discovery. Generally, as children approach maturity, they
learn increasingly more through verbal and abstract forms. Also
it is more important to learn how to learn than it is to learn
facts. Facts have little importance within themselves. Information
today may be misinformation tomorrow. Learning must con-
tinue throughout life. Therefore, skills of learning assume more
In a recent article, W. George Hayward, an administrator
of New Jersey, describes a visit to a very modern school. One
teacher complained that there was too little display space when
all chalkboards were reversible bulletin board and display area-
unknown to the teacher who occupied the room. Another
teacher, occupying an area blessed with peripheral areas for
individual work areas and small group spaces complained that
her second grade could not work effectively in such a space and
that it was a waste of money. The provision of equipment and
materials does not assure their effective use. Teachers need the
daring to try something new. It requires a creative spirit to
capitalize on innovations, or to create them.
From the standpoint of the teacher, there would seem to be
much danger in considering creativity a "thing." Edythe Mar-
golin (Elementary School Journal, LXIV, December 1963, 117-
121) tells of the teacher who had strong feelings of the need
to create, but also had strong feelings about the conduct of
children. She demanded that a child who talked at his easel
tear up his painting. The encouragement of creativity in paint-
ing might demand that a teacher ignore crude brush strokes to
preserve the integrity of a piece of work.
Could the preceding illustration suggest that a teacher ig-
nore spelling and punctuation in a piece of writing in order to
preserve the fine feeling that the child put on paper? Mauree
Applegate, author of Easy in English, thinks so. She believes in
leading the child into good editorial re-reading habits after he
has produced an artistic effort. A teacher must examine his values
and live them in the classroom. If freedom to be original is truly
an important value, then other values must be examined in
light of the significance of originality.
A creative teacher is willing to experiment with new forms
without fear of failure. The motivation factor of that creativity
will make him analyze his mistakes and build upon them. Edythe
Margolin says: "Let the teacher who says she wants children
to be creative, yet destroys the created product, not wonder why
some children in her class do not try new things. By the values
she prizes, the teacher can destroy children's desire to venture
on new paths. She can crush creativity even though she prides
herself on the many 'creative' things she prepares for her
If the struggling teacher begins to respond like Alice to the
admonitions of the White Queen to keep running in order to
stay in the same place, this is a relative picture. Such a response
on the part of the teacher is not sufficient to keep pace with
progress of educational goals.
The in-service education program is of vital significance in
the success of the language arts program. Provision for it should
be made as the staff works together and recognizes its needs.
Setting the stage for the program will vary from school to
school. In some schools a special committee may serve as a clear-
ing channel. In other schools suggestions may be made by the
principal or supervisor. In still others, the idea may come from
the county school administration office. Summer institutes, con-
ferences, participation in ongoing studies are but a few means
of advancing interests and capabilities of teachers.
In any case, it will be the responsibility of the principal to
set up the machinery and carry through on suggestions to put
the program into effect. The activities may be designed as a
part of the regular staff meeting or they may be planned at a
specific time set aside for that purpose. Regardless of organiza-
tion, consultants and the central office staff should work with
the school in planning and implementing the program.
The principal should see that all essential information is col-
leted for the program and that it is used in planning. He should
take into account such factors as time and place for work, per-
tinency of topics to be explored, and the effects of the program
on the regular classroom instruction. He should also be aware
of current trends and of research and how best to interpret and
apply them in his own situation. He should ever recognize
that unless there is dynamic leadership in a well planned pro-
gram to help teachers find solutions to their problems, not
much growth can be expected in the language arts program.
Evaluation of the Program
Can there be a line drawn between teaching and testing? Is
it true that all testing is really diagnostic? Is it true that there
must be a diagnostic approach to teaching if there is to be suc-
cess in teaching?
Teachers must recognize that each child will be working at
different tasks, with different materials, and in different ways.
Each child must begin where he actually is, and each child must
enlarge his skills and understandings as far as comfortably pos-
Evaluation of the language arts program is a cooperative
venture-an examination of the vector, which is direction and
magnitude-by students-and teachers-and administrators-
and society. Whatever tomorrow's society may prove to be, that
will be the final evaluation of what we have done today. Again,
teachers and principals must take a careful look at the program
as planned, and the check list in this bulletin will prove helpful.
LANGUAGE IS learned. The normal child is born with ears,
but he does not immediately have the ability to understand
what he hears. He is born with organs of speech, but he must
learn how to say what he thinks. He is born with eyes, but
he must acquire skill in reading from printed symbols and in
writing with them.
PART ONE: SPEAKING
From the time a child is a few weeks old, he has developed
awareness of sound through hearing and can distinguish the
sounds that have meaning for him. He learns early to produce
by imitation the sounds that will gain the attention he seeks or
the response he wishes.
A home or its substitute is the first classroom in the lan-
guage arts, and the mother or substitute is the first teacher.
The linguistic skill of the child who is physically normal will
probably reflect directly the influence of his environment.
Studies are available to indicate that verbal destitution or wide
departure from middle-class standard English patterns may oc-
cur if any of the following factors are present in the learner's
1. Absence of give-and-take conversation
When a parent spends little time with the children, there
is small likelihood of conversation, of exploratory ques-
tions and answers. Milner found that part of the picture
of general neglect encompassed lack of active participa-
tion in conversation at meals, before or after school, and
during routine chores. The taciturnity probably contrib-
uted to the isolation felt by the rejected child.
2. Little contact with parents
The initial phases of language development are dependent
on a successful love relationship between the child and his
mother. Dorothea McCarthy reports that it is to the
mother's smile and to her voice that the baby gives his
first responses and vocalizations. Conversely, when such
positive influence is missing, the language progress suf-
3. Pampering by parents
If a child is babied and pampered, one of the significant
symptoms of the immaturity of her personality may be a
marked lisp, difficulty in pronouncing "r" and "1" sounds,
or some other form of babyish speech. 2
4. Tenseness in family relationships
Numerous studies of stutterers reveal that their relation-
ships with people important emotionally to them are usu-
ally tense and disturbed. Such children often harbor deep
resentment toward over-possessive and domineering moth-
ers.... The significant events in the child's emotional life
have an important influence on whether he will become a
speech problem. .3
5. Little show of affection
Milner found that disadvantaged children in language of-
ten came from a home atmosphere where affection was
withheld. These children do not receive any outward show
of love or acceptance by their parents. They were spoken
to only to receive orders or scoldings, in most instances.4
6. Corporal punishment
Milner also discovered that those who were retarded in
language were liberally treated to direct physical punish-
ment by one or both parents, and Srole states that in the
complex of poverty children are exposed to negative ex-
periences consistently.6 Such experiences seem to block
language interest and facility.
x Dorothea McCarthy and others, "Home Influences," Factors that Influence Language
Growth. National Conference on Research in English.
4 E. Milner, "A Study of the Relationships between Reading Readiness in Grade One
School Children and Patterns of Parent-Child Interaction," Child Development, XXII.
SLeo Srole, et al. Mental Health in the Metropolis (New York: McGraw-Hill Book
Children who come from homes where a foreign language
is spoken may bring a problem of a special kind with them.
Perhaps not only their native language, but the whole
culture it represents may be laughed at, suppressed, or
discouraged in the school atmosphere. The difficulty of
sound production in a different language may well com-
pound the strain of expression. Arsenian reminds readers
of the problem of the non-English speaking child in his
8. Institutional life
Badt found a significant inverse correlation between the
length of institutionalization and the ability to abstract.7
Two other researchers concluded that the routines of a
hospital or institution limit "the influence of life experience
in the acquisition of new words."8
Children who enter school at five or six years of age differ
enormously in their facility with oral language. The more the
teacher can learn about the home environments of her charges
the better understanding she will have of the strengths and
handicaps each child possesses. It is of significance to know
whether a child comes from a loving or loveless home, from a
permissive or hostile atmosphere, from a culturally advantaged
or a culturally divergent background.
As soon as the classroom teacher suspects or detects speech
or hearing difficulties, he should consult the guidance personnel
available for assistance. The school principal and the counselor
should be informed as to the speech therapy service provided in
the county and can assist in arranging professional help when
such is required.
6 Seth Arsenian, "Bilingualism in the Post-War World," Psychological Bulletin, XLII,
7 Margit Badt, "Levels of Abstraction in Vocabulary Definitions of Mentally Retarded
Children." Quoted in Improving English Skills of Culturally Different Youth. U. S. Office
8 R. Mein and N. O'Connor, "A Study of the Oral Vocabularies of Severely Subnormal
Patients." Ibid. pp. 130-143.
Children in some counties are not referred for therapy until
they reach the second grade, since a majority of problems ap-
pearing among six-year olds are self-corrected. Research also
bears out the fact that mentally and socially immature children
are not usually ready for a speech therapy program; their at-
tention span is short, and they cannot give the concentration
required to achieve correction.
Those to be served in the speech therapy program have dif-
ficulties which fall into these classifications:
4. Organic disorders (cleft palate, cerebral palsy)
5. Voice disorders (hoarseness, nasality)
6. Bi-lingual problem.
SOME DESIRABLE AIMS FOR THE LOWER ELEMENTARY
STUDENT IN ORAL EXPRESSION
1. Clear talking is
necessary to good
2. It is important to
tell happenings in
3. Conversation re-
quires as much
listening as talk-
4. Listening carefully
helps one under-
5. Listeners are more
attentive when the
6. Dramatization is a
clear and lively
way of telling a
1. Speaks with good
2. Reports experi-
ences in an order
easy to follow.
3. Listens with inter-
est to others.
4. Repeats accurately
directions or im-
5. Sticks to subject;
avoid starting over
again and again.
6. Participates in
acting out poems
1. Likes to exchange
ideas in social situ-
2. Begins to appreci-
ate the value of
3. Enjoys many lis-
4. Trusts his listen-
5. Thinks of others
in choosing topic.
6. Takes pleasure in
Principals, counselors, and teachers working together can utilize
current knowledge and resource people to reinforce each other's
efforts in helping the handicapped child. A child in the elementary
school whose speech is obviously different from that of his class-
mates has defective speech which needs correction.
It is important that the teacher have in mind the concepts,
skills, and attitudes toward language in general, and toward oral
SOME DESIRABLE AIMS FOR THE UPPER ELEMENTARY
STUDENT IN ORAL EXPRESSION
1. The voice shows
meaning and feel-
2. People must hear
easily in order to
3. Speaking clearly
and well shows
respect for others.
4. Listening carefully
and courteously is
important for in-
formation and en-
5. A good report takes
6. Choral reading can
be exciting and en-
7. Standard good us-
age should be the
goal in speaking.
8. Establishing stand-
ards or goals as a
measure of per-
1. Interprets mean-
ing by tone, vol-
2. Projects voice well,
3. Has poise, confi-
4. Recalls informa-
tion heard; un-
5. Gives well-planned
report; uses visual
6. Reads and memo-
rizes poetry for in-
dividual and group
7. Avoids illiterate
and run-on sen-
8. Identifies goals for
1. Likes to hear lit-
2. Desires to be heard
3. Realizes the im-
portance of train-
ing and practice in
becoming a good
4. Shows respect for
of race or back-
5. Welcomes ideas for
looks for differ-
ence between opin-
ion and fact.
6. Understands the
music and message
7. Values chance to
learn standard us-
age in school.
8. Takes criticism
expression in particular, that he deems desirable for the students
to work for. Such determining of aims is a personal matter, but
the objectives which follow may serve the purpose of focusing
attention on one way the teacher could examine the problem.9
1. Since the children's oral language patterns and habits are
largely set by the time they enter school, it is essential
that the teacher know the family situation and search for
causal factors of inability as soon as possible, particularly
at the primary and intermediate levels. This knowledge
should enable the teacher to guide speech development
2. The teacher can help the child to be accepted as a person
by providing the kind of atmosphere in which his speak-
ing will be welcomed and respected. ("We do not laugh
at each other." "We are all here to learn.")
3. Since listening and speaking develop first in life, they are
the basic skills to be emphasized. Writing and reading are
extended dimensions of language that grow from the
4. There is more to oral language than giving opportunities
to talk; specific lessons should be designed for specific
5. Since talking pre-supposes hearers, the art of listening
needs to be stressed in oral language situations.
6. The values that a teacher holds are revealed in all she
does. Her voice, vocabulary, enunciation, pronunciation,
choice of words, sentence structure-all have an influence
on students. A teacher may use language to bring about
stimulation and thought, or she may use it to cut off
participation and thinking. Positive, constructive, encour-
aging language is the hallmark of the skillful teacher.
7. Evaluation is an important part of the program for im-
provement. Standards should be set and used.
8 Adapted from Curriculum Guide for English-Grades 1-6, Orange County Board of
Public Instruction, Orlando, Florida, 1962-63.
Specific suggestions for working with the timid or verbally
handicapped child might include:
1. Providing experiences for the child to talk about
2. Providing a favorable climate where all children are ac-
cepted and encouraged to express their ideas without
3. Providing a physical set-up which will encourage oral ex-
change by informal grouping of chairs, by ease of arrange-
ment, by availability of things to hold and talk about
4. Providing an abundance of socializing experiences in
which children are allowed to talk as they work and
5. Emphasizing the social aspect without over-concentration
on "good" usage
6. Making corrections tactfully in order to avoid embarrass-
ment to the child
7. Giving encouragement and praise for efforts made
8. Allowing the child time to grow.
Suggestions for Speaking Experiences1o
Lower Elementary Grades
If the child reaches school age unhampered by the circum-
stances previously listed, he is probably well-equipped in oral
language and loves to talk. For children deficient in earlier lan-
guage development, kindergarten offers a special opportunity
for filling in the gaps.
All through the day learning situations exist which encour-
age children to speak to and listen to each other. As they learn
to share materials, take turns in conversation, plan and co-
operate with a group or with a classmate, they have occasion
to participate in a flow of language. Each activity takes on added
meaning as the young child talks things over with another per-
son, as he gives his reaction to what he has seen and done.
Talking helps him to identify and understand what he has seen,
felt, touched, and heard.
10 Many of the ideas for activities were suggested by Mildred Dawson and others,
Guiding Language Learning, Second Edition (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963).
Language activities of particular interest at this age are:
1. Showing and telling. Much of oral expression is an ac-
companiment of physical activities and is a phase of social
living in which a feeling of companionship is manifested.
The young child can bring a possession from home to
talk about or display something from school which suits
his interest. (Warning: Be alert to bragging and monop-
2. Reporting on an experience. Children talk most effec-
tively about things they know best. Relating personal ex-
periences is an especially important type of language
learning at the primary level.
3. Conversation. Teachers should provide opportunities for
children to chat informally as they draw, paint, build,
look at books. Small-group work offers a chance for chil-
dren to talk purposefully, also.
4. Planning period. As children find opportunity to talk
and plan together in cooperative enterprises, they should
gain in language ease. Guided planning of a day's activities,
a party, a trip provide a good chance to think in lan-
5. Creative stories. It is hard to conceive of a school day
for elementary children without storytelling on the part
of both teacher and student. Some of the stories should
be original, told to provide entertainment and pleasure
to both teller and listener. An atmosphere of informality
will usually invite exercise of the imagination; the prob-
lem here may be to deal tactfully with young children's
natural tendency to ramble.
6. Stories dictated to teacher. The development of the "ex-
perience chart" often utilized by teachers in beginning
reading explorations provides an exciting activity for the
child who contributes. He can enjoy seeing his words
written down for group use, and he also has pride in
seeing his speech go into "permanent" form. He sees that
writing is talk translated into letter symbols. He may
also begin to sense the interrelationship existing in think-
ing, speaking, writing, and reading; listening for evalua-
tion also comes into the picture. (Teachers should not be
shocked by the subject selected and should use the lan-
guage and ideas of the child.)
7. Dramatic play. Situations in social studies, science, read-
ing, literature take on life as children act them out.
Young children find it very easy to play pretend, to
identify themselves with the characters they represent.
Life situations also take on clarity and reality when
translated into small group dramatizations.
8. Nursery rhymes and other poems. Through repeating
for fun the favorite rhymes, jingles, and short poems that
are loved and familiar, children learn the satisfaction of
performing with others in a heartwarming experience.
Action poems provide a good way to begin. Unison and
response patterns pave the way for more formal efforts
in choral speaking.
9. Choral speaking. Through choral reading, each child soon
learns the sound of his own voice. Fear of speaking be-
comes less evident when. a person knows his own voice
well. Along with this value comes understandings of
meaning, rhythm, and mood.
10. Giving simple directions, instructions, explanations. Sen-
tence sense, clarity, organization of ideas, precision in
word choice, as well as attentive listening, can be en-
couraged by repetition of teacher's directives, re-stating
of group decisions, briefing the absent student.
Additional activities which may be undertaken include:
1. Exposition-explaining how to do something, how to go
2. Reporting-advancing from unstructured informal narra-
tive to planned answers to interesting questions
3. Special occasion talks-planning talks in honor of person
or special day
4. Storytelling-planning and sharing "new" story with
group, following outline or sequence
5. Oral reading-presenting prepared material for informa-
tion, comprehension, entertainment of classmates
6. Memorization-voluntary repeating and interpreting lines
in dramatization, in poems or prose selections.
Upper Elementary Grades
Self-evaluation and improvement should have more and more
emphasis as the child develops and as life broadens. Planned
growth in oral expression at this level requires awareness of
specific language skills and speech techniques as both formal
and informal activities expand; therefore, the student must set
demanding aims for himself.
Suggested language activities for upper elementary children
1. Extension of informal expression. As at the elementary
level, conversation, discussion, directions, instructions and
explanations are vital parts of the oral language program.
As the teacher emphasizes effective use of language all
day long, these types of activities are present throughout
the school day.
2. Classroom discussion. Effective classroom or group dis-
cussion of subject area material which is based on search-
ing questions will eliminate the lifeless pupil-to-teacher
recital of memorized facts. Thinking aloud, investigating
orally, summarizing in speech, evaluating vocally offer
excellent disciplined activity, not only to the students,
but also to the teacher.
3. Committee work and reports. Through committee activi-
ties pupils have opportunity to learn the basics of group
dynamics: emerging leadership, importance of participa-
tion, value of recording fully and accurately, desirability
of consensus, problem-solving. Preparation and presenta-
tion of progress reports in connection with committee
work is a rather sophisticated endeavor which will chal-
lenge able students.
4. Parliamentary procedure. A natural outgrowth of the in-
terest in and desire for clubs, the business-like way of
conducting deliberations can illustrate the democratic
process in action. Classroom business can well be han-
dled through parliamentary procedures. The chairman
and the club members learn poise and efficiency as they
master formal techniques of approving or disapproving
5. Interviewing. Learning how to conduct an interview with
peer or adult can require planning of questions, cour-
tesy in arranging interview date, accuracy in record-
ing data, utilization of material in introducing speaker to
class or assembly. Information obtained orally might be
written for school paper.
6. Book reviewing. Talking over independent reading se-
lections for mutual enjoyment offers many possibilities
not always realized. Stereotyped recitations of plot, halt-
ingly given in minute detail, probably bring little joy to
anyone involved. However, the resourceful teacher may
succeed in directing attention to answering why, how,
and what for in regard to a narrative and discourage
who, when, where. There are many ways of sharing ex-
citement about a book.
7. Formal reports. One of the most common forms of the
prepared talk is the report. Since it is important, addi-
tional emphasis will be devoted to points of essential na-
a. Copying from an encyclopedia and reading the result-
ing materials do not constitute a carrying-out of the
assignment-to prepare a report.
b. Reports should be carefully and thoroughly prepared
but not memorized, nor should they be read.
c. Setting up a purpose and a list of questions to be an-
swered in his talk will assist the reporter in presenting
information in an unstilted and conversational manner.
d. The use of charts, graphs, pictures and lists will assist
the student in holding the interest of his audience.
e. Credit to references and to quoted authorities must be
f. Giving a good report with verve and skill takes much
practice; it doesn't happen by miracle.
8. Panel discussions. Upper elementary students benefit
from experience in sharing responsibility on a panel.
Dividing and conquering a broad subject in this way
promotes confidence in the ability of each to do his share
creditably, and the fact of physical company in a formal
situation lends security.
9. Interpretive reading. In personal and choral work, the
older student reflects much planning, preparation, analy-
sis of meaning and mood, imaginative phrasing and modu-
lation. Individuals or groups can present their efforts
for other grade groups or for assemblies. Students can
direct choral speaking as well as decide and assign roles
in the reading. (Listening to artists on recordings and
on tapes offers inspiration.)
10. Role-playing and dramatization. Construction of original
dialogue and role-playing in social situations are two out-
lets for the student's interest in make-believe on a dif-
ferent level. In addition, these activities provide acting
skill of use in the more stylized dramatization of appeal
in the upper grades.
11. News discussion. Special guidance can help students to
prepare and present satisfactory comments on the day's
news. A tendency to report headlines only may need to
be supplanted by standards requiring attention to details
and necessity for sufficient facts. Many teachers have daily
news discussions while the content is fresh.
12. Tape-recording. The tape recordings available today are,
of course, invaluable as sources of material for listen-
ing. Of more pertinence here, perhaps, is the effectiveness
of the aid in reproducing student-made sounds for en-
joyment and/or evaluation. Teachers have found the tape
recorder useful in:
a. Imitating models
b. Considering the fluency and flow of language
c. Considering effective phrasing and emphasis
d. Checking accuracy of consonant and vowel production
e. Identifying other voice problems for speech correction
f. Enjoying personal and choral speaking
g. Helping students evaluate progress.
A person's language is as individual as his fingerprints and
probably should be nourished as a distinctive characteristic.
Any attempt to make a child's speaking patterns over only be-
cause teachers find them "not nice" will likely be doomed to
failure. As the child himself sees value and importance in self-
improvement and finds his efforts resulting in greater self-sat-
isfaction and self-acceptance, he will exert himself toward goals
that mean something to him. Teachers can provide the climate
and the opportunity for growth. In general, their energies could
well be spent with the following goals in mind: 11
I. Developing children's competencies in oral language so
that they will-
Use language suitable to purpose, setting, and audience
Understand the structure and form of language and
apply this knowledge in speaking
Master the components of effective oral communica-
Distinct, pleasing voice
Wide vocabulary, precisely used
Pointed, conclusive discussion
Attentive, evaluative listening
Notice the sequence, relative importance, authenticity,
and bias in spoken ideas
Use oral reading to communicate ideas and to express
their reactions to literature
React sensitively to the beauty and power of language
11 Educational Leadership (November 1963), pp. 101-104.
React appreciatively to melody and rhythm in poetry
Accept social and regional differences in others' speech
without ridicule or rejection
React in words rather than in gross physical activity.
II. Evaluating children's competencies in oral language in
such a way that-
All of the listening and speaking competencies, rather
than just one or two most easily measured, will be in-
cluded, with concentration upon a few at a time.
Relatively little of the evaluation of listening and
speaking will be done by standardized tests. More will
be done by short teacher-pupil-made tests, rating scales,
tape recordings, records kept by individual children,
and observations by teachers. The pupil will participate
in evaluating his own work.
Major attention will be placed upon the individual pu-
pil's development, with language proficiency evaluated
at the beginning and at the close of each school year.
PART TWO: LISTENING
Both adults and children spend more time in listening than
in any other communication activity. Many are less effective
listeners than they might be, and research shows that listening
ability can be improved through teaching and practice. Effective
listening makes it possible to acquire new information, to
broaden concepts, to think and to act with increasing maturity.
Children live in a world of sound. Never, in the history of
mankind, has the human voice been made available to so many
so easily and so continuously. Truly, the problem of our genera-
tion is threefold:
1. To decide what to listen to
2. To strengthen listening ability
3. To listen appreciatively and critically.
Most listening habits are learned indirectly at home. What we
are discussing here is direct learning experiences.
The listener usually has only one opportunity to comprehend.
Speech cannot be recalled or re-examined or re-read for veri-
fication or clarification. The reader can adjust the rate of the
reading to the difficulty of the material being read, depending
on need. But the listener must deal with aurally received ideas
at the speaker's rate of delivery, not the listener's rate of compre-
Perhaps because there is so much of it, many children learn
to ignore talk. Most of us like to talk more than we like to
listen. Perhaps by selective and purposeful activities, children
would learn not only to listen more purposefully, but would
learn to like to listen.
Children whose physical and emotional development is
normal learn first to listen to language, later to speak, next to
read, and last of all to write sequentially. Listening is funda-
mental, of course, since speech patterns are based upon imitation
practiced long before a child enters school. Intake precedes out-
Children need guidance in improving listening abilities to
assure greater skill in reading, as well as for improvement in
speaking. Research continues to indicate the lively interest in
discovering the relatedness between listening well and perform-
ing well in all other phases of communication. According to
findings reported, training in hearing attentively increases the
general academic success of all children. Listening, at all educa-
tional levels, has been a forgotten aspect of the language arts,
but recently interest in the teaching of listening appears to be
gaining the momentum of a movement.
Children vary greatly in their sensitivity to sound signals.
These differences occur in:
1. auditory acuity, or the sensitivity of hearing as measured
by the amount of sound energy necessary for a person to
2. auditory discrimination, or the ability to distinguish
sounds which are somewhat alike, such as the sounds of
p and b, scene, seeing
3. auditory comprehension, or the ability to understand and
remember the meanings behind the word signals.12
Correction of difficulty patterns in the first category may need
professional services. Many language activities in the kinder-
garten and primary grades are directed toward the second cate-
gory, while the third depends upon understanding and interpre-
tive abilities undertaken as auding experiences.
What Is Auding?
Reading and listening with focus are the receiving ends of
the communicative process. They are similar in many ways and
dissimilar in others. But Russell finds a comparison useful in
explaining the concept of auding:
Seeing: observing: reading = hearing: listening: auding
Seeing is to observing is to reading as hearing is to listening
is to auding.
Russell goes on: "Just as the child who reads must react
to the words of the page with understanding and use, so the
child who auds goes beyond mere listening to interpretation
and use of what he hears." Brown agrees in use of the term;
he says that auding may be defined as the' "gross process of
listening to, recognizing, and interpreting spoken symbols."13 The
progression from hearing to auding may be expressed as follows:
Hearing 1. Awareness of sound without much reaction
2. Intermittent listening, without a conscious goal
3. Partial listening accompanied by a desire to
Listening 4. Quiet, focused looking, as if listening, with no
observable response or comprehension
5. Selective listening to statements that please or
12 David Russell and Elizabeth F. Russell, Listening Aids Through the Grades,
New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1959.
s1 D. P. Brown, "Auding as the Primary Language Ability." Unpublished Ed.D. Dis-
sertation, Stanford University, 1954.
Auding 6. Listening and forming associations with facts of
one's own experience
7. Concentration on organization of talk in way to
obtain main ideas and supporting details
8. Consideration of ideas with evaluation process
9. Appreciation and creative reception with genu-
ine mental and emotional participation.
Some authorities like to itemize listening habits which might
accompany the above reactions in this way:
With help, a child's auding may become purposeful, accurate,
Auding for Young Children
Setting the Climate for Listening
The teacher can provide a climate which is conducive to
good listening by:
1. Stimulating a desire to hear, to know, to repeat, to question
speaker, to add ideas
2. Practicing courteous attention and behavior with students
3. Preparing a receptive, welcoming mood
4. Arranging a comfortable physical set-up
5. Encouraging appropriate mind-set for the listening ex-
The teacher can provide for the immediate occasion or op-
portunity by inviting children to:
1. Look at speaker
2. Remove work or play materials from desk or table
3. Be patient while speaker is thinking what to say
4. Remember why he is listening
5. Think ahead and ask himself such questions as: "What
will the speaker say next?"
Experiences in Listening
Everyday school activities provide unlimited opportunities
for guided experiences in listening. Some of these are listed
1. Announcements. Listen for ..Who? When? Where? What?
2. Assignments. Listen for .....Do I tell it? Do I write it?
Alone? With a group? A
3. Directions. Listen for .......Where? When? How?
4. Questions. Listen for ........ Can I repeat the question?
Is the answer in the book?
Do I need to think of the an-
Did the question have new
Do I know what the ques-
5. Explanations. Listen for .....What do I do first?
What materials do I use?
How much time do I have?
6. Stories. Listen for ..........What story is told?
What characters are in it?
Where does it happen?
7. Poetry. Listen for ........... What words tell color?
sound? touch? smell? taste?
Which words are fun to say?
are beautiful to hear?
Does the poem march? run?
bounce along? flow like a
Does the poem paint a pic-
ture? make me laugh? make
Are some parts easy to re-
member? worth memoriz-
8. Music. Listen for ........... What rhythm has it?
Can I hum some of the mel-
What instrument do I hear
most of the time?
How did it make me feel?14
Auding for Older Children
The importance of auding ability increases rather than de-
clines in the post-primary years. Stories are longer, assign-
ments more complicated, directions more complex. Half-listen-
ing will not do.
Lessons should be built with three parts:
1. Preparation, with purpose made clear
2. The experience itself
3. Evaluation and use of material heard.
In addition to the experiences suggested for young children,
these offer opportunity for listening by the older child:
-4 Rhea Anderson, Let's Learn to Listen, Orange County Board of Public Instruction,
1. Informal conversation. Lunchroom, activity period, play-
ground, project work, committee endeavors, share and
2. Reports and explanations. Subject area planned reports,
committee reports, science experiments
3. Classroom discussions. Subject area responses to thought-
provoking questions; deliberation, evaluation of accuracy
4. Discussion of common problems. Problem-solving ap-
proach to individual and group difficulties based on facts
and interpretation of same
5. Conducting business. Listening and evaluating progress
made in parliamentary procedure methods
6. Book reviewing. Learning levels of discussion by refer-
ring to: What happened approach all the way to What
difference does it make?
7. Panel discussions. Watching for idea development, inac-
curacies, bias, distortion
8. Audio-aids. Reaction to-radio, TV, recordings, guest
speaker for commercial propaganda, sources of critical
and creative listening
9. Recording one's voice. Discussion of phrasing, stress, em-
phasis, volume after play-back
10. Reading aloud stories and poems for enjoyment. Analysis
of reasons for group or individual enjoyment: characters
seem alive, they talk well, there is plenty of action, epi-
sodes were believable, there was a surprise ending
11. Recording choral speaking. Appreciative listening by the
audience to work of selves and known performers
12. Note taking. Practice with recording or written speech
that can be repeated; additional work with debates, im-
13. Detailed riddles. Group examination after one reading
of riddles, which are dependent upon careful and critical
Hindrances to Effective Listening
Emphasizing the positive approach to effective listening re-
quires a serious attempt on the part of the teacher toward
eliminating these obstacles:
1. Needless repetition of directions, instructions, questions.
Teachers, and mothers before them, have sometimes en-
couraged children to be poor listeners by repeating direc-
tions over and over again. A better habit is to obtain the
attention of the children, and then give out information-
2. Acceptance of climate filled with distractions. Listening
efficiency is cut down by distractions. Teachers should in
every way provide physical factors conducive to concen-
tration when auding experiences are planned. Noises from
hall, playground, or street should-if possible-be shut out;
temperature should be comfortable; teacher and children
should be paying full attention to the speaker.
3. Demanding of attention. Some teachers insist that the stu-
dents pay attention by exhorting them constantly. Unless
the pupils have a purpose in listening, can hear, and see
some sense in listening, it is unlikely that repeated pleas
for "quiet" will bring desired results.
4. Faking of attention. Students need to realize that the pose
of listening counts little without the performance. Some-
times children confuse the posture with the procedure and
think they are in fact listening.
5. Selfishness of participants. Students who wave their hands
wildly while classmates are talking have obviously one de-
sire: to speak. These need help in developing the virtue
of courteous listening.
Evaluating the Listening Program
Teachers devoted to a strong planned program in listening
and auding will wish to evaluate their efforts in many ways.
Available to them are the following suggestions.
Criteria designed to evaluate the success of a comprehensive
listening program should measure its influence upon the student's
attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behavior patterns. Criteria
should include teacher self-evaluation, student self-evaluation,
and teacher-student evaluation. Some suggested procedures are:
1. Have I provided classroom listening experiences through
such activities as
a. Discussions: class, small groups, and individual?
b. Interpretive reading?
c. Use of mechanical aids: tape recordings, films, record-
ings, radio, and television?
2. Do I develop listening skills and habits by
a. Evaluating and discussing skills with students?
b. Directing specific attention to listening?
3. Does my direction of the class stimulate careful listening by
a. Making discussions worthwhile?
b. Using thought-provoking questions?
c. Making students aware of the need for active listening?
4. Does my over-all teaching procedure provide for the sev-
eral levels of listening found in the classroom situation?
This suggested chart is one means of indicating the cate-
gories of listening in the various degrees of comprehen-
Levels of Listening
Simple listening Hearing noises without discrimi-
Listening for general Listening to get the general plan
impressions or idea
Listening to radio while other-
Beginning to be selective
Listening for informa-
Listening for main
Listening for various
points of view
Listening for narrative
Understanding simple facts, inci-
Weighing importance of ideas
Understanding the need for de-
tails to develop the main idea
Beginning to evaluate
Perceiving importance of the
Understanding sales pressure
Understanding relationship of
facts or incidents
Appreciating unity of thought
Listening for enjoyment, relaxa-
Understanding speaker's purposes
Evaluating validity of speaker's
Evaluating story and its develop-
Recognizing bias, style, inflection,
delivery, and speaker's personality
Understanding propaganda tech-
niques: testimonials, name call-
ing, band wagon, mud-slinging
Visualizing characters, mood, set-
ting, situations described.
1. Do I listen more attentively to
a. Directions and announcements?
b. Student's talks?
d. Recordings, radio, movies, and TV?
2. If I listen more attentively, have I improved in the abil-
a. Be more alert and responsive?
b. Follow directions?
c. Ask pertinent questions?
3. How do I rate on this self-evaluation chart?
Teacher Evaluation of Class Progress
1. Observation of behavioral changes is one informal way of
evaluating effectiveness of a planned listening program.
Do the children listen more attentively and more willingly
than they did before? Do they need to ask for fewer repe-
2. Standardized tests of listening skill are available. Some of
these are listed at the end of this section.
3. Various methods of informal testing may be used to meas-
ure the students' improvement. Several possibilities are:
a. Follow a brief oral reading with a quiz or summary on
b. Compare sentence summaries of talks written earlier in
the semester with similar summaries written after de-
veloping listening activities.
c. Assign one-minute speeches on current topics; after
each talk have students write
(1) Main idea
(2) Details giving examples or comparisons used
(3) Pertinent questions about the speech
d. Include these items in a test of listening
(1) Accuracy of detail
(2) Oral directions
(3) Ability to remember sequence of details
(4) Ability to pick out central ideas
(5) Ability to analyze critically
e. Tape record an explanation and play back in short seg-
ments to class. Ask students to identify the parts played
f. Use objective tests to cover the pertinent information
given in the school announcements for one week.
Listening and speaking are universally the most frequently
used means of communication. We share with others the con-
cern about effective written communication, but we here voice
the need for equal concern about educating all children to be
effective speakers and listeners. For every individual, the ability
to listen and to speak effectively is probably the most im-
portant asset that he can acquire and maintain throughout a
Some Tests of Auding Abilities
1. Durrell Analysis of Reading Difficulty Tests: Listening
Comprehension (Grades I-VI), Hearing Sounds in Words
(Grades I-III), New edition World Book, 1955.
2. Sequential Tests of Educational Progress, Level 4 (Grades
4-6), Forms A and B, Educational Testing Service, Prince-
ton, New Jersey.
3. Wilson, A. R. Test of Listening Effectiveness (Grades 3-
6), University of California, Berkeley.
4. Diagnostic Reading Tests, Section II, Part 2, Committee on
Diagnostic Reading Tests, 419 W. 119th Street, New York.
The Teaching of Reading
EARNING TO READ is a complex developmental process
which may continue to be refined and improved through-
out life. It is an activity in which the reader strives to identify,
interpret, and evaluate the ideas of another. It is more than the
acquisition of gradually accumulating separate skills and encom-
passes the most complex thinking of which man is capable.
Reading is the meaningful interpretation of printed symbols.
It is an extension of oral communication and is built upon listen-
ing and speaking skills. In the beginning, the reader is learning
to recognize printed symbols which represent speech, and to
respond intellectually and emotionally as though the words were
spoken instead of printed. As the reader develops proficiency,
the recognition process requires a smaller portion of the reader's
attention, allowing him to give more attention to the author's
meaning. This change of emphasis occurs naturally as recogni-
tion skills are mastered and become automatic. Thus, the nature
of the reading task changes as proficiency develops at each level
of maturation. As skill develops, the reader learns to adjust his
method of reading in response to his purpose and the nature
of the materials read. Reading involves many interrelated skills
which take time to master as the student matures. At all grade
levels reading is both a subject of instruction and a tool used to
study the subject-matter fields.
Reading is a two-way process. The author presents his ideas
through printed words. The reader comes to the printed page
with certain ideas and experiences. What he gets out of reading
depends in part upon the background knowledge he already pos-
sesses, his value systems, his attitudes, and his socio-cultural
bias. Reading is a highly personal process in which the reader
perceives that portion of the material for which he is ready in
light of his needs and personality. The wider the reader's back-
ground and interests, the more possible the cultivation of ex-
tensive and varied tastes.
The nature of the reading program in a school is determined
by a variety of factors such as the community demands upon
the school, the interpretation of educational procedures of the
school system, and the particular characteristics of the children
themselves. It is important that teachers have a thorough under-
standing of the nature of the learning process and the reasons
for current practices in the teaching of reading. Such under-
standing should assist the teacher in developing a high level
of skill, insight and resourcefulness and in developing the ability
to interpret the reading program to the lay public.
This guide is no substitute for the many excellent texts on
reading instruction, nor is it a specific course of study. It is a
philosophical framework within which there are many freedoms.
It is an attempt to cull the relatively constant understandings
regarding the teaching of reading from the relatively variable.
The ultimate goal of reading instruction is to produce well-
informed, reading adults who recognize and enjoy this form of
communication as an indispensable component of modern life.
Children need assistance in discovering that books contain val-
uable information which applies to their daily lives, that books
hold answers to important personal questions, and that books
offer limitless pleasure.
A broader view of the value of skillful reading encompasses
the assumption that an informed citizenry is essential to the
survival of the concept of democracy. In order to be a good
citizen today, one must be more discriminating, more critical,
and more widely read than ever before in our history. The per-
sonal and sociological values of reading make it imperative that
children not only read well but that they read habitually.
The reading program of a school consists of all the activities,
materials, and methods provided by the staff for promoting de-
velopment in and through reading. Reading skills are subtle and
difficult for most children to master and require that provision
for organized instruction be made. To increase reading compe-
tencies and stimulate interest in reading a sound reading pro-
gram should have the following characteristics:
1. It offers an accepting climate in which each child feels that
he is a worthwhile human being.
2. It makes provision for determining and developing read-
ing readiness at all levels.
3. It makes provisions of many kinds for individual dif-
4. It is coordinated with other language arts activities.
5. It considers reading a necessary skill in all subject areas.
6. It emphasizes reading for meaning and is sequential and
7. It provides for continuous evaluation of student's
progress both informal and formal.
8. It offers a wide variety of interesting reading situations,
activities, and reading materials; i.e., basal, supplemen-
tary, library, reference, maps and globes, newspapers and
9. It offers balanced instruction of word recognition tech-
niques, not overemphasizing one to the neglect of others.,
10. It encourages a permanent appreciation and interest in
reading as a valuable tool both for leisure and vocational
11. It provides diagnostic and corrective services for pupils
having difficulties learning to read.
1. An Accepting Climate
A good reading program provides a positive, supporting, re-
warding, satisfying atmosphere in which children are encour-
aged to seek new insights. A wholesome relationship between
teacher and pupil will be as much of an asset as any other
influence in ensuring success in reading. As the child's percep-
tion of other people and how they react to him is probably the
greatest single factor in the development of his self-concept, the
student should sense the teacher's positive feeling of his dignity
and worth and should feel her confidence in his ability to learn
to read. When the people surrounding a child accept him as
he is, believe he is doing his best, and believe he can succeed, a
positive atmosphere conducive to learning has been established.
In a climate either at home or at school, conducive to inquiry
and growth, mistakes are expected and accepted as a natural
part of growing.
A good reading program makes provision for developing and
measuring readiness at succeeding levels. A certain maturity is
necessary for all behavior-both physical and mental-all ages.
At each succeeding level of skill, readiness implies the mastery
of the prerequisite skills for the next learning task. The use of
the dictionary, for instance, is dependent upon the skill in using
the alphabet, the guide words, the pronunciation key, etc. The
maturity necessary for success in reading includes intellectual,
physiological, social, and emotional maturity as well as a pro-
ficiency in specific skills.
The skills bearing most directly upon success in reading are
the breadth of listening vocabulary, listening comprehension,
auditory discrimination, auditory acuity, articulation, the ability
to perceive both the general configuration and distinguishing de-
tails of a printed symbol, the ability to form concepts, motor
coordination, and adequate binocular functioning. Although
these skills are interrelated and often interdependent, an in-
dividual child may not be equally advanced in all of them. It is
well to remember that the human eye and ear are not fully
developed physiologically in some children until between the
ages of eight and nine. It is well, also, to remember that de-
velopment proceeds unevenly. When certain skills develop early,
other related skills may not develop along with them as they
tend to do at later stages of maturity. One study1 of the abilities
and skills of a 5% year old girl, tutored in reading from the
age of 3 years, and reading at fourth-grade level, compared with
those of fourth graders reading at this level, reports that this
precocious reader has poorly developed listening skills, can rec-
ognize many words not yet in her hearing vocabulary, and shows
1 Harry Singer, "Substrata-Factor Evaluation of a Precocious Reader," Reading
Teacher, 18 (January 1965), pp. 288-96.
low conceptual ability that appears to be related to limited ex-
Among many activities which provide practice in developing
these skills may be included:
Matching symbols, pictures, letters or words with progres-
sively finer differences
Finding likenesses and differences in a series of letters or
Fitting puzzles together
Listening for all sorts of distinctive sounds, rhyming words,
words that begin alike, words that end alike
Talking and singing nursery rhymes and poetry
Rhythms and coordination-building exercises.
The readiness provided by the home is highly significant in
reading success. The freedom the child has had to explore his
environment, building up understandings of objects and space
through direct touching, tasting, handling, listening, and manip-
ulating, seems to assist visual discrimination so necessary in
reading. The freedom to learn the possibilities and limitations of
his own body as it relates to space and objects within that space
through crawling, creeping, walking, running, climbing, and
jumping appears to provide ncesessary visual motor experience.
The home which stimulates a direct interest in books through
pleasurable use is helping set the stage for reading. All the
activities of the home which serve to widen the child's range of
information and to promote his physical and emotional well-
being will directly affect success in reading. Parents should never
hesitate to answer children's normal questions about reading,
nor should they be concerned, one way or the other, if children
learn to read before starting to school. From all we know at the
present time, however, there appears to be no justification for
giving children formal instruction in reading before they start to
The experience of attending kindergarten is particularly val-
uable in preparing children for the reading act when the kinder-
garten emphasizes varied visual motor activities, provides a wide
range of experiences, and uses many materials in an effort to
build up communication skills. The program must be differen-
tiated according to the needs of individual children. If a child
shows interest in beginning reading, the alert teacher will help
him when he wants help. This does not mean that a formal sys-
tematic reading readiness program is best placed in kinder-
garten. Among many other things, good kindergarten teachers
help children prepare for reading when they:
a. Encourage correct speech patterns by providing a good
b. Listen to children, recognizing differences in maturity of
speech habits, and encouraging all children to talk in in-
formal as well as total class groupings
c. Read to children
d. Tell stories to children
e. Discuss the interpretation of pictures and stories with chil-
f. Provide stimulating surroundings
g. Give help in becoming acquainted with new materials and
h. Help build concepts
i. Broaden interests through organization and use of centers
and trips of all kinds.
3. Adjusting to Individual Differences
Children come to school differing in mentality; verbal facil-
ity; physical, emotional, social, and intellectual maturity; and
experiential background. They will continue to mature at dif-
ferent rates. A good reading program will capitalize on these
differences and the range of differences will broaden as the chil-
dren mature. The better the teaching-the wider the range will
become. The timing of the introduction of new skills, the pac-
ing of the instructional program, the sequence of introduction
and the kind of questions asked by both teacher and student
as well as the timing of these questions are all relevant to the
success of the student in reading.
Some children will require a minimum of guidance and
should not be bored by instruction and practice they do not
need. For these children the teacher's chief responsibility is to
provide a setting favorable to learning. The biggest danger is
standing in their way and impeding their progress. The teacher
can step aside by refusing to give too much direction, by allow-
ing student planning and participation, by refusing to supply
information which is available to the students, by refusing to
pressure students, and by encouraging students to set their own
purposes. By listening, the teacher will learn much that will
allow her to capitalize on the concerns of the students to provide
an encouraging, stimulating environment for learning.
Other children will need a great deal of teacher assistance.
There will be an occasional child who needs more time and
assistance than a classroom teacher can provide. Providing for
individual differences within the typical self-contained classroom
requires all the professional skill a teacher can muster, all the
perception she can generate, and all the patience she can de-
At the end of the first grade a few children will be reading
faster than they can talk and some of them will be reading
books of fourth-grade difficulty. A few will be just starting
in primers, and there may be one or two who haven't made
the connection between those strange black marks on the white
page and speech. By the end of the sixth grade the reading
achievement in the average classroom is likely to range from
second grade level to tenth grade level.
Teachers provide for individual differences in many ways:
1. Keeping scheduling flexible
2. Keeping grouping flexible
3. Forming a sub-group whenever a significant purpose
arises or when differing achievement levels require
4. Providing time for individual work with children
5. Utilizing students as teachers
6. Teaching small groups to work together
7. Utilizing and developing self-teaching and self-checking
8. Analyzing test results thoroughly-both standardized and
9. Diagnosing continually.
4. Interrelatedness of Language Arts
A good reading program operates under the premise that
each of the language arts areas reinforces the others and is best
taught in a manner which will contribute as much as possible
to the development of the others. Listening, speaking, reading,
writing, and spelling are closely related. The way the child
learns to listen and to speak affects his ultimate success with
reading. The method the child chooses to use to recognize and
pronounce printed words will affect his spelling. Activities in
listening, speaking, and writing stimulate vocabulary growth.
Writing and spelling reinforce the identification of words already
encountered in reading and help the instantaneous perception
of these words become established.
5. Reading in the Subject-Matter Areas
A good reading program will provide for the transfer of
skills from general reading instruction to the subject-matter
areas. Each subject has certain specific characteristics which re-
quire the acquisition of new skills and the adaptation of skills
common to general reading. The terminology, the purposes, and
the special comprehension skills differ from subject to subject.
These specialized reading skills are best taught gradually in
connection with the specific subject matter.
6. Reading for Meaning
From the very first, reading should be taught as a skill re-
quiring thinking. Reading as a tool for learning cannot be mas-
tered effectively unless the student learns to reason as he reads.
The various purposes for which the student reads will include
reading for the main idea, to follow directions, to follow a se-
quence of events, to grasp details, to draw conclusions, to skim,
or to evaluate critically. To attain a degree of control over such
highly complex skills, the skills need to be taught sequentially
and continuously at ever more advanced levels of comprehen-
Isolated drill on such specific skills, however, may obscure
the larger and more exciting job of discovering what children
make of what they see, hear, and read. It is not always easy to
discover what children understand, partly understand, or mis-
understand. Children bring their own meanings to any piece of
reading material, so teachers must ask open-ended questions to
find out what these meanings are. But there is, also, a level of
meaning, factual or inferential, that the reader can get more
or less accurately from reading. Teachers must work, also, to
help children get at this meaning by filling in experiential gaps
that may block this process. But going beyond this level, i.e.,
extending meanings beyond children's present meanings or those
of the writer of this material, is also a part of the teacher's
responsibility. So, relating, checking, evaluating, and making
value judgments are all part of the reading-for-meaning proc-
7. Continuous Evaluation and Diagnosis
Appraisal of progress should be a continuing process and be-
come an integral part of every lesson. The best opportunities
for diagnoses are available to the classroom teacher as daily
assignments are made and completed. When the teacher combines
her observations and the results of informal and formal testing,
she will be able to select appropriate materials and plan the
instructional program to take care of the individual needs dis-
closed by the various appraisals. The informal and formal ap-
praisals should be administered in a situation which closely
approximates actual reading situations. The areas of reading pro-
ficiency and interest requiring evaluation and diagnosis include
word identification and recognition, vocabulary meanings, com-
prehension and interpretation, study skills, speed, specialized
subject-matter area skills, oral reading skills, attitudes toward
reading, and interests and tastes in reading.
The teacher may make good use of her powers of observation,
her conferences with each child, the progress records she keeps,
and the oral and written work of the children to help her find
out what she needs to know about each child's progress. As the
teacher becomes aware of the meaning of the mistakes children
make, she will become more skillful in diagnosis. Each mistake
has meaning. Some are more serious than others. For instance,
in reading orally, a substitution which changes the meaning is a
more serious error than an omission or insertion which does not
change the meaning of the passage. Many omission and insertion
errors may be ignored, but any change of meaning must be
It is important to note that the performance on a listening
comprehension test serves as a good indicator of reading po-
tential. The ability to listen with understanding seems to cor-
relate highly with those intellectual factors affecting possible
success in reading. The teacher may devise her own informal
listening test by selecting passages from a series of graded read-
ers. The degree of understanding the child reveals in answering
successively more difficult questions on the selection will reflect
his reasoning ability.
Standardized measures of both silent and oral reading may
be valuable in evaluating the rate of progress and the achieve-
ment level of the students. A careful analysis of the performance
of a student on a standardized test will offer clues to specific
areas of difficulty which can be followed up by more specific
teacher-made tests. It is well to remember that scores on stand-
ardized tests tend to be frustration level scores. The teacher
will usually provide material for instructional purposes on a
lower level than that on which the student tests.
8. Variety of Interesting Reading Situations, Activities, and Ma-
A good reading program should provide an opportunity to
read in a wide variety of interesting situations in the elementary
school. Experience charts, signs, posters, menus, orders, paper-
backs, magazines, newspapers, reports, advertisements, multi-
level materials and labels may be available in a multitude of
pertinent situations which can be used to stimulate interest in
For best results, reading materials should be available in
ample amount, varied in type and subject matter, and of the
proper range of difficulty. The kinds of reading material usually
needed include basic readers, practice materials such as work-
books, supplementary books, library books, subject-matter texts,
newspapers and magazines, pamphlets for intensive and exten-
sive reading, dictionaries, and reference books. A variety of
audio-visual materials and equipment is also needed. The crea-
tive teacher will remember that activities directly connected
with the reality of the child's life will prove most interesting
to him. Learning to read should never be dull. Activities which
appeal to children include independent reading, puppets, plays,
poetry, reports, browsing, displays, book clubs, exhibits, audience
reading, choral readings, riddles, music, creative writing and pro-
The elementary school library is the hub of the educational
program in the school. Not only does the library supply the ma-
terials for broadening interests but it supplies the framework
within which all locational and reference skills can be taught.
Classroom collections of books which are readily available to
students serve to make varied, interesting materials more ac-
9. Balanced Program of Word Recognition Techniques
A good reading program will provide balanced instruction of
word recognition techniques. Adequate auditory and visual dis-
crimination are necessary for word recognition, as auditory and
visual discrimination involve matching the printed visual symbol
with the sound and meaning represented by the symbol. It is
known that children learn to recognize words differently. It is
also known that each child uses more than one method to de-
cipher various combinations. Therefore, it is important that
each word-recognition method known be taught to give more
security and independence. A balance must be maintained so
that no one method is over-used. The methods usually employed
include sight words, noting the unusual characteristics of a word,
configuration, context clues, phonic analysis, structural analysis
and the use of the dictionary.
10. Encouraging Permanent Appreciation
A good reading program recognizes that the time and effort
spent on the development of skills is useless unless favorable
attitudes which will influence adult behavior are instilled. Tak-
ing advantage of interests the student already possesses, the
teacher will try to broaden these interests and to stimulate the
acquisition of new and more mature interests. Through direct
comparison and experience with a wide variety of literary types,
the ability to recognize excellence and quality in literature
should be fostered gradually. Improvement of taste and ap-
preciation is a first step toward developing the ability to dis-
criminate between levels of quality in writing.
Interest in reading is affected by the attractiveness of the
reading materials. It is affected by the skill of the teacher in
finding appropriate, satisfying material for an individual child.
It is stimulated when a teacher helps the child make effective
and satisfying use of what he has read. Among the factors af-
fecting the development of tastes in reading are the level of
reading ability, strength of interests, availability of materials,
the amount and variety of voluntary reading, and the time
and the skill of the teacher.
11. Diagnostic and Corrective Services
A good reading program provides diagnostic and remedial
services for pupils having difficulty learning to read. Relatively
mild reading disabilities in one or two reading skills can often
be identified and corrected by the classroom teacher. When the
reading disability is severe, referral should be made to a specially
trained reading teacher or a clinic as early as possible in the
child's elementary career. This child is usually such a poor
reader that much of the work of the slowest group is frustrating.
He needs a thorough diagnosis and more individual help than
can be provided by the classroom teacher. When these services
are not available, the classroom teacher should not feel guilty
or incompetent because she is unable to provide the medical,
psychological, and educational services required.
A Balanced Program of Reading Instruction
A sound program of reading instruction must have balance.
The balance shifts from grade to grade but some provision
should be made daily at all grade levels for a skill development
program (developmental reading), for the opportunity to prac-
tice these skills in the content fields (functional reading), and
for personal reading (recreational reading). More time is spent
on the developmental program in the first few grades than ever
again. As control is gained over the skills, the time spent on the
developmental program lessens and more emphasis is given
functional and recreational reading. It follows that the value
of the basal reader and the proportion of time spent on the
developmental program lessens as the student advances through
the elementary school.
Any breakdown of the facets of a balanced reading program
is arbitrary. Many teachers find that description of a balanced
reading program which employs the terms developmental, func-
tional, and recreational fills their need. The following is sug-
gested as a specific interpretation of the terms developmental,
functional, and recreational:
I. Developmental Reading
A. Skill in the mechanics of reading
1. Establishment of right-to-left directional sense
2. Control of a large sight vocabulary
3. Establishment of word-attack skills
4. Development of healthy postural habits
5. Control of book (holding book up and turning
6. Development of speed and fluency in silent reading
7. Control of oral reading skills
B. Skill in comprehension
1. Ability to read for a purpose
2. Ability to build concepts and the attending vo-
3. Ability to see thought relationships such as time,
comparison and contrast and cause and effect
4. Capacity to recognize the meaning of units of in-
5. Capacity to find answers to specific questions
6. Capacity to remember what is read and to remem-
ber the sequence of events
7. Ability to select and understand main ideas
8. Capacity to see the author's plan of organization
9. Ability to draw upon one's background to criti-
cally evaluate what is read
10. Capacity to internalize new understandings
II. Functional Reading
A. Ability to comprehend material written to give infor-
1. All of the above listed skills in comprehension are
2. Control of specific skills required by subject-
B. Ability to locate needed reading material
1. Skill in using the index, table of contents, and
2. Skill in using the dictionary and encyclopedia
3. Skill in using bibliographic aids
4. Skill in skimming while searching for information
C. Ability to select the type and piece of information
D. Ability to organize information from reading
III. Personal Reading
A. Development of a desire for leisure-time reading
B. Development of worthwhile tastes and a permanent
interest in good literature
C. Development of the ability to gain insight into one's
own personality and problems
Reading in the Primary Grades
A good start in reading depends upon such factors as good
visual discrimination and memory, adequate articulation, the
ability to hear separate sounds in words and to synthesize these
sounds into syllables, the ability to give attention to the teacher
and to attend to some independent work for a short period of
time. These skills improve with maturity. The skillful teacher
plans a great many activities to establish the foundation for their
development. She does not sit back and wait for a condition of
readiness nor does she unnecessarily prolong readiness activities.
Among beginning first graders there will be those whose
backgrounds have not prepared them for reading or who have
not developed sufficiently to handle the reading process with
ease. Many children are far-sighted and cannot focus steadily
on small printed symbols with ease until their eyes have fully
matured. There may be a few children who have physical or
neurological handicaps or who are slow in perception. The bi-
lingual child, the culturally disadvantaged child, or the child
having no kindergarten training may need special considera-
Girls tend to be one full year more physically mature than
boys during the elementary school years, especially in the de-
gree of control of the small muscles. Recognizing this, the per-
ceptive teacher will be aware of the needs of children requiring
additional visual motor coordination activities. She will be
especially careful to avoid unfavorable comparisons.
A few children are fully ready to read when they enter
school. For most, a readiness program of varying lengths of time
is needed. It will consist of training in visual discrimination and
memory, in auditory discrimination and memory, in left-to-right
directional activities, in following directions, handling materi-
als, learning to listen, and learning to take turns speaking. Re-
search has shown that that third of the class which is lowest in
general ability will profit from training in visual-motor activities.
As the teacher notices increasing skill in the performance of
readiness activities, she will introduce beginning reading.
The first reading experiences a child has are usually in-
formal and serve as gauges of readiness for more formal instruc-
tion through the reading of labels, notices, news stories, and
experience charts. Experience charts are a valuable tool for
both instructional purposes and diagnostic purposes. The "lan-
guage experience approach" to reading provides materials that
are timely and follow the language forms of the spoken language
of the children. The teacher helps the children make the con-
nection between the printed symbols and the spoken words, to
learn to read from left to right and from top to bottom, and to
master a small sight vocabulary.
When the class has had a common experience and the students
have talked about it, the teacher may suggest that she write
down, in chart form, one or two of the important aspects of the
experience as the children dictate. This activity will do much
to show children that writing is "talk" written down. The
children soon associate meaning with the reappearing symbols.
As the teacher writes down what the children say, they are
building up their powers of word discrimination, recall, and flu-
ency, and are developing ideas regarding sentence structure. The
next step is encouraging the individual child to dictate his own
story, which he may then read to his classmates, individually or
in groups, for different purposes.
After reading the chart as a whole, and by parts, and
matching words, phrases and sentences, a number of activities
which interest children may be carried on with the variety of
types of experience charts. The use of the experience chart
should be continued throughout the primary grades and will
probably prove of particular benefit for the longest time to the
slowest group of students.
.At the same time that the teacher is capitalizing on the first-
hand experiences of the students to build experience charts, she
is using commercially prepared materials such as the basal read-
ers, supplementary readers, easy-to-read books, and library
books. The basal reader series provides a systematic skills-de-
velopment program and instructional aids for the teacher. The
adjustment of the vocabulary burden, the number of new words
introduced, the rate of their introduction, the maintenance
of vocabulary and the frequency of repetition of these words
are all a part of the usual effort of the author of a basal series
to simplify beginning reading.
The teacher's manual serves as a guide for a skills develop-
ment program aimed at securing for each child a command of
the essential skills of his level of ability. The manual provides
a wealth of suggestions, but it is not intended that all pro-
cedures outlined be followed for each lesson. All the questions
do not have to be posed. All stories are not equally productive
and do not warrant the same attention. Pace and rate should
vary with the productiveness of the material and the abilities
and needs of the students. Variety should be used in introduc-
ing a new story or unit. Manuals of series other than those being
used are good sources of worthwhile ideas.
Not all children need the same amount of systematic skill-
development instruction in reading. For those children who
grasp the meaning of the reading process almost without aid,
the minimal amount of time need be spent in carefully paced
instruction. However, in order to ensure that the most useful
skills are acquired by these students and that these skills in-
crease gradually, the teacher must check regularly and provide
the appropriate training.
Experience charts and commercial materials are most effec-
tive when they supplement and reinforce each other. The teacher
will find that the values inherent in both experience charts
and commercial materials help her provide for individual dif-
In the accompanying chart on pages 76 and 77 the reader
will find typical activities which can profitably be included in a
primary reading program. This chart is not intended to depict
a typical sequential week's program. However, it is intended to
show flexibility in providing for the instructional needs of the
primary class in reading. Several classroom organizational plans
are included. One organizational plan is based on ability group-
ing, another on special skills-development needs, another on
interests, and another on whole group activities. As various skill
development needs arise, there will be occasions when more
than three groups will be necessary. Grouping is not always an
answer. Motivation is high when teacher-pupil conferences con-
vince the young student that he is important.
Good teachers have long recognized that they cannot do all
the teaching that must be done each day and that children
often learn best from each other. Therefore, provision for stu-
dent teaching-learning in small groups of two or three is often
SUGGESTIONS FOR PLANNING PRIMARY READING PROGRAM
Skills Dev.: Prepare individual
or group experience chart
Recreational: Free reading
Recreational: Free reading Functional: Background read-
ing in various materials for
social studies unit
Functional: Practice on previ- Skills Dev.: Guided silent read-
ously taught skills in cor- ing in basal reader of appro-
mercial and teacher devised private level
Whole Class: Daily class newspaper writing, experience chart, word
Functional: Visual discrimina-
tion exercises based on need
evidenced last week
Skills Dev.: Guided silent read-
ing in easy materials or ex-
Recreational: Picture books
game, or dramatization of story.
Tuesday: Recreational: Free reading Functional: Independent work- Skills Dev.: Auditory discrimi-
type activities on specific nation exercise
skills in commercial or teach-
Functional: Reading-unit on Skills Dev.: Experience chart Recreational: Free reading
social studies, science, or related to unit
Skills Dev.: Phonics check Recreational: Free reading Functional: Exercise based on
previously read experience
Whole Class: Children's newspapers, story hour, reviewing experience chart, or class newspaper.
Wednesday: Functional: Independent work-
Recreational: Free reading
Recreational: Free reading
Skills Dev.: Two groups-
1. Auditory discrimination
2. Work on word lists which
teacher will check
Skills Dev.: Guided silent read-
ing in basal reader or experi-
Functional: Work-type period.
Exercises and games based
on previous lesson
Skills Dev.: Individual confer- Functional: Independent work, Recreational: Free reading
ences while remainder of using experience chart
group continues individual-
Whole Class: Word games in teams of two (each one-teach one)
Thursday: Skills Dev.: Basal reader les- Functional: Word games
son for specific purpose Average and low groups working together in groups
of two or three. Each one-teach one.
Recreational: Free reading Recreational: Free reading Skills Dev.: Guided lesson in
basal reader of appropriate
Functional: Skill development Skills Dev.: Guided silent read- Recreational: Free reading
practice in multi-level pro- ing in basal readers or expe-
gramed materials, and games rience chart
Whole Class: Filmstrip, visit to library, choral reading
Friday: Interest groups or invitational groups meet. Groups or individuals working on unit or topic using materi-
als of different levels of difficulty. May be working on chart, planning a report, reading for sharing later,
or writing a joint class newspaper.
The teacher is expected to work directly with the group having the skills development lesson.
The amount of time devoted to the language arts in the pri-
mary grades depends upon the commitment of the school to the
idea that the control of language is basic to all further education.
It is becoming common to find one and one-half hours devoted
to the teaching of reading in the daily schedule, often with a
period of time in the morning reserved for skill development
and a separate period reserved in the afternoon for independent
reading. If priority is given to all the activities which develop
the tool subjects, language arts and arithmetic, it is possible to
provide large blocks of time for the purpose of gaining skills in
these fundamental processes. Large blocks of time allow greater
flexibility in handling a varied number of groups for differing
purposes and in adjusting the time allotted to each activity.
Within the large block of time devoted to language arts instruc-
tion the whole class should be brought together every twenty
or thirty minutes to check on progress or be given new instruc-
tions. Young children cannot be expected to proceed smoothly
from one activity to another for long stretches of time. The
teacher needs to be sure each child understands what he is go-
ing to do next.
As the teacher plans for the needs of her class, she is con-
cerned that time is allowed each day for skill development, for
functional reading and for recreational reading. The first two
types of reading require more attention, planning and organiza-
tion than the last. However, it will require effort to see that the
slow groups have the privilege of extensive free reading time,
and to find the easy, attractive books that will encourage these
children to read in their leisure time both at school and at
home. The teacher will work with that group scheduled for
skills development. The functional activities are usually inde-
pendent follow-up activities which provide the opportunity of
practicing the skills just taught.
The reader will notice that provision for more auditory and
visual discrimination exercises is specifically mentioned for the
slow group, and that less time is spent in the basal reader with
the high group. As the needs of children differ, so does the
reading program. Provision has also been made regularly for a
short time (approximately 15 minutes) for whole class reading
Reading in the Intermediate Grades
At this level of development the majority of the students
have become independent enough to accept more of the re-
sponsibility for attacking new words and for extending their
vocabularies through wide reading. The skills required for nar-
rative reading are by this time usually adequate for most chil-
dren and the silent-reading rate has usually outdistanced the
oral-reading rate. The student will be striving to acquire much
information and knowledge through wide reading, to extend his
vocabulary, to develop skill in using reference materials, to
continue to improve his speed in silent reading, to improve his
ability in reading orally, to read with discrimination, and to
acquire skill in reading in the various content fields. The chief
responsibility of the teacher during the intermediate grades is to
maintain, refine, and extend the skills taught in the primary
Such fundamental reading skills as outlining, skimming, scan-
ning, and reading maps, charts, and graphs are all best developed
using actual content area materials.
The teacher should supplement whatever content-field texts
she has with free and inexpensive materials available from many
sources. Newspapers, magazines, brochures, booklets, maps,
charts, and graphs will supply a variety of materials on many
topics pertinent to the intermediate curriculum. When a variety
of sources are utilized for gathering background information, the
students must develop organizing ability, critical thinking, and
skill in comparing and contrasting.
In using content-field materials, specific training needs to be
given in using the study aids provided such as headings, glos-
saries, indices, diagrams, maps, charts and summaries. Many of
these "aids" will not help the students unless specific instruction
in their use is given.
Any plan for grouping must give consideration to differences
in interests, rate of growth, capacity, social maturity, experience
and motivation. The sensitive teacher must use her knowledge
SUGGESTIONS FOR PLANNING INTERMEDIATE READING PROGRAM
HIGH AVERAGE LOW
Recreational: Free reading Functional: Assignment out- Skills Dev.: Basal reader. Guid-
lining previous social studies ed silent reading and discus-
lesson for specific purpose sion
Functional: Practice specific Skills Dev.: Basal reader-guid- Functional: Related activity for
skills already taught using ed silent reading and discus- practice of skills-using el-
multi-level, commercial study sion their narrative or content ma-
skills, or teacher-made ma- trial
Whole Class activity: Choral reading, audience reading, dramatization, poetry, weekly news publication.
Skills Dev.: Independent con-
ferences. Teacher gives as-
sistance with pupil record
Recreational: Free reading
Functional: Assignment for in-
dependent work related to
word analysis skills, word
meaning or comprehension,
using basal reader or content
Functional: Practice skills Skills Dev.: Work on specific Recreational: Free reading
teacher identified yesterday skills related to word an-
alysis skills or comprehension
and critical reading using
Whole Class: Teacher reading more advanced story than class can handle with discussions of concepts
Wednesday: Interest grouping or invitational grouping. Groups or individuals working on topic in literature, science,
health or social studies using materials of differing levels. Working cooperatively or individually on re-
ports, charts, dramatizations or program. Current events provide many topics of interest and perti-
nence to intermediate curriculum. Teacher observes carefully while circulating or has individual con-
ferences. This period may also be used for study skills lessons in library.
Thursday: Skills Dev.: Work on compre- Functional: Practice in teams
hension, vocabulary, or criti- of two or three in skills need-
cal reading using content ed by both groups. Each one-
materials teach one.
Recreational: Free reading Recreational: Free reading Skills Dev.: Demonstration and
practice of specific skills in
different types of materials
using textbooks, trade books
and reference materials of
all kinds, etc.
Whole Class: Library period improving reference and study skills, study of graphs and charts.
Friday: Functional: Cooperative work-type study activities. Skills Dev.: Basal reader. Read-
Each one-teach one. ing to answer questions de-
signed to improve compre-
Recreational: Free reading Skills Dev.: Independent read- Recreational: Free reading
ing, keeping records and
word lists. Teacher has con-
Whole Class: Dictionary work, vocabulary study, or class newspaper.
The teacher is expected to work directly with the group having the skills development lesson.
of the whole child as she groups for a specific purpose, disbands
the group, and then reorganizes to meet another need of her
students. In the accompanying chart on pages 80 and 81 the
common groupings within a self-contained classroom are il-
lustrated. The teacher will find occasions for whole group
participation, for ability grouping, for interest grouping, for
invitational grouping, for grouping in teams of two and three stu-
dents assisting each other, as well as opportunity for individual-
The chart on pages 80 and 81 illustrates some typical activities
in the intermediate reading program. It is not intended to be a
typical weekly schedule but rather its purpose is to show a
variety of activities and approaches which will be appropriate
when based on the needs of students. It is assumed that the
skills-development portion of the reading program usually re-
quires the presence of the teacher.
The reader will notice that some whole-class activity is sug-
gested for a short time (approximately 15 minutes) and that the
bulk of skill-development work is in the content-field ma-
terials. Because students in the intermediate grades have
achieved more independence and can do sustained work for
longer periods, the scheduling is not as highly structured as that
for the primary grades. There is great need, however, for adapt-
ing the instruction in the content fields to the various levels of
achievement and ability in reading as these materials form the
basis for the development of study skills.
It is important to find time for recreational reading, for which
there are no reports to make and no questions to answer. Unless
special plans are made for a recreational reading time, the slower
students rarely have an opportunity to read for pleasure. Part
of this time should be spent in reading and telling stories, for
experience with literature should come through listening as well
as reading for this age group.
Developing Independence in Reading
There is no one best method of teaching reading. No one
method has proved equally profitable for all children and no
one method is adequate for a single child to use in unlocking
all words. Children differ from one another in every possible
ability related to reading. Therefore, every good teacher includes
in her planning a wealth of learning approaches and various
activities adaptable to the needs of individual children.
Word Recognition Skills
Word recognition skills include picture clues, configuration,
context clues, sight words, phonic and structural analysis, and
dictionary skills. Children will need each of these tools to use
in solving the puzzle presented by many words in our lan-
guage. There is no set quantity of these skills that can be pre-
determined for all children. The individual child needs to be
able to use the appropriate skill or combination of skills at a
particular time in a particular context.
Whole-word approaches include picture clues, configuration
clues (word shape and length), context clues, and sight words.
The teacher should utilize every opportunity to illustrate ex-
amples of these clues.
Students entering the first grade are usually able to enu-
merate objects in a picture but need help in grasping the in-
terrelationships depicted. Pictures are of assistance in building
concepts, as well as an aid in identifying new words. As clues
to new words, pictures soon begin to diminish in importance after
the first grade.
Children often devise a procedure to recognize words which
capitalizes on the many peculiarities of the appearance of words.
Although these procedures are often individualistic and seem to
be used naturally by most children, some need to be encouraged
to make comparisons by drawing the outlines of words, or by
trying to read words with only the initial consonants and con-
figuration of the remainder of the word for clues. Word form,
or configuration, with the ascenders, descenders, and length
noted provide visual clues to word analysis. Adult readers rely
heavily upon the special shape which many words have in addi-
tion to the initial consonant for speed in reading.
Sight Words. Most currently recommended methods of teach-
ing reading begin with the teaching of whole words. The reason
for this procedure is that the more practical and useful habit
of seeing the word as a whole is established before the slower
letter-by-letter analysis has become habitual. Many experiments
have shown that recognition of letters is not a part of the usual
act of reading. Most high-frequency words are abstract service
words and are phonetically irregular. These words tend to be
connectives, prepositions, and conjunctives, rather than words
which have a concrete meaning. A stock of sight words is usually
built up gradually through repetition in experience charts, basal
readers, trade books, supplementary books, and through rein-
forcement in the daily writing of the students. As these service
words occur frequently and are usually more troublesome than
words with a concrete meaning, they should be repeated often
in experience charts and other writing. Care should be taken,
however, not to allow the need for repetition to destroy the in-
Children use many distinguishing characteristics of words in
their efforts to recognize them. They may notice the length and
shape of the word, double consonants, the ending, base words,
compound words, or the initial consonant. A student may use one
or several word recognition techniques to identify a new word.
With repetition the word becomes familiar and can be recognized
instantly without time-taking analysis.
Word games, card files of new and troublesome words, pic-
ture dictionaries, and lists of various categories of words will all
serve to give the necessary individual attention to these words.
Exercises which require the student to classify words, phrases,
or sentences are valuable. One might have thirty words which
would naturally fall into one of three categories, such as: ani-
mals which live in the water, animals which live on land, ani-
mals which can live both in the water and on land. Com-
mercial word games, such as Look, are valuable opportunities
Although the mature reader has a good command of phonic
and structural analysis skills, the memorization process which
builds a sight vocabulary remains important throughout life. It
is with a large stock of sight words that speed in reading be-
Context Clues. From the very beginning, children are able
to use the thought of the sentences to help them anticipate and
to recognize an unknown word. To assist students in using con-
text clues, teachers should point out and illustrate the many
kinds of context clues which exist in reading materials, although
no effort should be made to have students learn the technicalities
of the types of context clues. Some of the kinds of context clues
that the teacher will want to illustrate are inference, direct
explanation, example, definition, restatement, figures of speech,
mood, contrast, comparison, paragraph organization, titles, head-
ings, and punctuation. Examples of some of these context clues
Inference: Mother scowled as she saw the mud on the puppy's
Direct Explanation: A knot is a nautical mile.
Example: Areas of dense vegetation, such as the jungles of
Brazil, have heavy rainfall.
Definition: Some vegetables are tubers, or the enlarged root
portion of plants.
Restatement: The blockade continued. In other words,. no
ships could sail in or out of port.
Figure of Speech: from the frying pan into the fire
Mood: The dog bared his teeth as the stranger crept closer.
Contrast: The river was deep, but the lake was shallow.
Comparison: The pines, like sentinels, stood straight and tall.
Paragraph organization, titles, headings, and punctuation can
all be helpful in determining the unknown word.
Context always determines the meaning of a word but does
not necessarily reveal it. How much value a context clue is to
the reader depends upon his previous experience, how clear the
connection is between the word and the clue, and how close the
clue is to the unknown word. It would seem that contextual
clues which follow the unknown word in a sentence are more
likely to be of assistance in unlocking the meaning of the word.
Acknowledging these limitations, context clues are depended
upon to such an extent by mature readers that their use must
be taught by direct teaching and given continuous attention.
The teacher can assist students in using context clues by:
1. Urging them to read the entire sentence or paragraph be-
fore looking for help
2. Illustrating the various types of context clues
3. Discussing meanings of new words and pointing out exist-
ing context clues
4. Using teacher prepared materials with words omitted ex-
cept for initial consonant
5. Substituting nonsense words for key words to promote in-
6. Encouraging the use of the dictionary.
Perceptual studies have shown that mature readers use the
initial consonant or consonant blend, the general shape of the
word, and the sense of the context to recognize words. We do
not read by individual letters. It is best that the child learn to
use-from the beginning-that procedure which he will use as a
There is no one accepted system of teaching phonics. There
are many methods advocated by zealots who think reading can
only be taught by some special system. They believe that word-
attack skills are of value in themselves-not as an aid in reading
for meaning. Research suggests that the majority of the phonic
rules taught as such are of questionable value.
Phonics should definitely be one of the techniques taught
systematically to develop word recognition. A method of teach-
ing phonics that incorporates its subject matter intrinsically is
to be preferred over that method which teaches phonics in iso-
lated drill. When taught in isolation, a distortion of speech sounds
is the usual result. The addition of "uh" to most consonants
confuses children and adds to the difficulty of synthesizing.
Using the whole-word approach during the first few steps
of reading instruction enables the young reader to form the
habit of perceiving by word form or shape. This practice permits
the use of known words with which to develop phonic generali-
zations. An analysis of letter-sound relationships should be de-
veloped in meaningful situations. For instance, after the child
has learned "boy," "ball," and "big," the teacher should assist the
child in making the generalization that these words start with the
same sound and the same letter. If he does not know the name of
the letter, she tells him. She does not wait for a large sight vocab-
ulary before leading the child to make more careful discrimina-
tions than configuration clues will allow. The knowledge of letter
sounds gives desirable independence. This independence results
from the student pronouncing the unknown word, trying to re-
call from his auditory memory a word to which his pronunciation
bears some resemblance, and finally taking advantage of the
context clues to discover meaning.
Readiness for phonics depends upon the child's ability to
discriminate between sounds. This ability to hear differences
in sounds such as "b" and "d," "k," and "g" is usually labeled
auditory discrimination. The slow learner, the child who does
not have the power of auditory discrimination, and the child
with the speech impediment will profit least from a heavy phonic
program. Preliminary training in auditory discrimination is in-
dicated for these children. For all children the teaching of phonics
should be an oral activity.
Studies have shown that it is possible to stress phonics to
the detriment of speed and comprehension. A moderate amount
of phonics then-phonics taught as one of several word-recog-
nition techniques-is preferable. An eclectic method, in which
all methods are integrated in various combinations and are sup-
plemented by meaning and context, is far superior to any one
Structural analysis consists of identifying those parts of a
word which form units of pronunciation and meaning. The
common units are compound words, inflectional endings, syl-
lables, roots, prefixes, suffixes, and contractions. On meeting
an unknown word, the child surveys it visually first, looking for
units of meaning and pronunciation. Then he may sound out
parts of it where necessary.
Perhaps the first step in developing skills in structural analy-
sis grows out of the sight vocabulary. The child is helped to see
that some compound words are made up of whole words that he
already knows; i.e., into, sidewalk. Very soon, in the primary
grades, structural analysis should be expanded to include analy-
sis of a base word and some of its inflectional endings: jump,
jumps, jumped, jumping.
When polysyllabic words are encountered, both structural and
phonetic analysis must be employed, since the division of the
word affects the sound of the vowel. In order to start syllabica-
tion, the child has to understand that every syllable must have a
vowel sound. Much work in syllabifying simple, familiar words
leads the child to generalizations about the relationships of
vowels and consonants in unknown words; i.e., "where there
are two consonants between two vowels, the second consonant
usually starts the second syllable." It is useless, however, for a
child to syllabify a page of words where no check is made on
pronunciation. This leads to a parroting of rules without any
understanding of how to apply them.
The learning of syllabication skills should include the knowl-
edge that a prefix is always a separate syllable, and that pre-
fixes change the meaning of the words, whereas suffixes only
change the use of the word in a sentence. If suffixes are taught
in sentences and the same root used interchangeably in nouns,
verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, the students' understanding of
English structure is facilitated:
The first act of the play was short.
It was time for the President to act.
Football is an active sport.
There was much action on the football field.
He entered actively into the campaign work.
Contractions, as well as prefixes and suffixes, are more
easily understood and retained if taught in context rather than
in lists. The child must learn that the apostrophe takes the place
of a letter or letters left out in order to more nearly approxi-
mate normal speech patterns.
All the word perception skills are put into practice in using
the dictionary or other reference materials. Although picture
dictionaries are profitable, children do not find the dictionary
a real tool until they have learned the alphabet. Many chil-
dren's dictionaries are useful in the second and third grades.
At the fourth grade level learning to use the dictionary be-
gins in earnest. Facility in using it depends chiefly on (1)
learning to find a particular word; (2) learning to decipher the
pronunciation; (3) learning to choose the meaning which fits
the context in which it is found. These skills are developmental
in nature and should be taught and refined at more difficult
levels as the child proceeds through school.
The Relationship Between Silent Reading and Oral Reading
Silent reading precedes oral reading. A printed word cannot
be given orally until the reader has employed most of the
techniques used in good silent reading. Skill in word recogni-
tion, understanding of meaning, vocabulary and concepts, phras-
ing and comprehension are essential to both silent and oral read-
ing. Even the rate of reading silently affects the rate of oral
reading. When silent reading precedes oral reading the stu-
dents have more opportunity to concentrate on the meaning and
to figure out an unknown word. After reading silently the stu-
dent's oral reading tends to be more accurate, more fluent and
As both children and adults utilize their silent reading skills
more than their oral reading skills, priority should be given the
silent reading skills, especially in the intermediate grades. In
developing silent reading skills, the teacher is concerned with
such interrelated, interdependent skills as comprehension, vo-
cabulary, speed, and accuracy.
It is well for teachers to remember that lip movement, ver-
balizing, and finger pointing are normal crutches used by most
children, which are dropped as skills increase and confidence is
gained. Actually saying the word helps some children make the
association between print and memory. Pressure to eliminate
these crutches may aggravate the already existing insecurity.
When the crutch is no longer useful, the child will eliminate
Oral reading is essentially a form of communication between
one person and others. Most children enjoy the opportunity of
reading aloud to others and of being read to by others. Oral
reading contributes to the child's development in several ways:
1. Gives practice in communicating with others
2. In an approving atmosphere, helps develop self-confidence
3. Makes possible many pleasurable social activities
4. Helps in the development of good speech practices
5. Offers the opportunity to share information
6. Provides diagnostic information.
Usually, silent reading precedes oral reading because oral
reading requires the use of additional interpretive skills. The
alert teacher utilizes natural opportunities for purposeful oral
reading whenever possible throughout the day. She may work
with a small group needing practice on such skills as phrasing,
voice production, the use of punctuation marks, or the interpre-
tation of conversational material. A group may work on dram-
atizing a story. Some oral reading will probably be a part of the
discussion which follows the guided silent reading of a basal
reading lesson. Oral reading activities must vary, must have pur-
pose, and should take place only if there is a receptive audience.
The unfortunate and destructive practice of permitting chil-
dren to read in a "round-robin" fashion should be discouraged.
A more efficient use of time is made possible when students
read orally for a specific purpose, such as to convey the mood of
a story or to interpret the feelings of a character. The mood
may be exciting, friendly, fearful or gay. The character may be
disappointed, brave, bold, sad, gay, anxious or hopeful. Children
will be helped to give appropriate oral interpretation when the
teacher asks skillful questions and spends time in a discussion
of portraying emotion with the voice. Such reading involves