What is the most relevant reading model for addressing 21st century literacy demands? Illustrate your response with examples of classroom practices consistent with this reading model.
The Philosophy of the Whole Language Model
Literacy can be defined as the ability of a person to read and write. Literacy is the medium that helps people to contribute to the society as a functional member. In the inception of the documented history, it meant the ability to the letters which can convey meaning, when put together. The process of teaching the young students by placing the words together, understanding the meaning and expressing the thoughts has been changing ever since. 21st century has experienced the globalization and digitalization (Choo et al., 2016). Now ideas, thoughts or information do not only come in the form of written words on a paper, it also comes in many audio visual forms. The current generation’s classrooms have also changed from that of the previous generations. There are many literacy models like Phonics literacy model, skill based model and balance literacy. However the whole language model has been proved to be one of the most effective models for many years. The world of education has many needs to fulfill, especially when the children’s future is concerned. The discussion over the whole language model’s structure, strategies, application and implementation will highlight its effectiveness and necessity.
The whole language model is based on certain philosophy and perspective. The students and teachers are at its central and language is the integral part of the process (Maddox, 2013). This model demonstrates a movement led by the teachers. Learning from psychology, linguistics, sociology, philosophy and theories of languages all come in action to make the whole language model for the children. Information may express individual meaning, but in this model learning is expected to be occurred from the whole. Meaning is created not from the individual elements but from the whole of it, with its social context as well. The model is originated from the philosophical theory of Holism. It comes from the Greek word ‘holos’ meaning total or all (Gültekin, Ci?erci and Merç, 2013). This system can be defined as whole learners learning whole language. The respect for language must be there from both learners and the teachers. The system focuses on the expression of meaning not on the language itself. The students are motivated to use language with all its purposes and varieties. These functions of written and oral language are appropriated through this model. The language covers all the subject matters.
This theory says the separate parts cannot be understood separately, they must be comprehended in its entirety. This has important significance in the philosophy of language. Learning in parts or separate elements of a language cannot express the ideas fully. The children focus on the whole meaning of the word rather than stressing on the phonetic parts of the words by breaking them down. There is an active constructivism associated with this model. The readers construct the meaning when reading a text. The prior experience and learning help him to shape the meaning (Tompkins et al., 2014). While they acquiring meaning out of the text, they go through various processes like prediction, correction, assumption, selection and confirmation. The model has active participation from both the readers and writers. The writers incorporate adequate information for the readers to understand the meaning as the meaning comprehension is the desired goal. The Graph phonic, Semantic and Syntactic language systems are included in the model (Nassaji, 2014). This model works effectively if the intended meaning by the writer gets expressed by the reader. The limitations of the writer and reader are in effect as they follow the limits of composing and comprehending.
Effective Learning through the Whole Language Model
The whole language classroom is different for other models in many ways. The strong presence of exchange and negotiation among the students and teachers are there. The learners also take participate in the decision making with the teachers. The consultants or the publishers do not hold any controlling power here. The concept of deskilling is applied in the model, where the teachers act as the guide for the learners. Whatever occurs within the classroom is their responsibility. The model provides the students with the strategies and the students follow them effectively. The students’ parents also take significant part in the system, as the learning within the classroom transcends to their homes as well. The model encourages the guardians to active part in the knowledge sharing with their children.
Talking is a prominent characteristic of this model’s classroom. A whole language model classroom is never silent; there will always be an ever present oscillation of verbal sound (Van der Veen et al., (2016). The standard model of a classroom with individual desks and seats may not be found in this classroom. The students generally sit in small groups and teacher’s desk is not the central point. Children’s art, writing or other activities are at the centre. The classrooms have magazines, newspapers, books, maps as the learning materials. The groups are never stable and specific. The students keep changing their groups in different projects. This heterogeneous structure helps to encourage the activeness and diversity. A teacher can create five or six groups and make them read the different chapters of the book collaboratively, discuss the passages, show illustrations from various sources related to the text and prepare a dramatization of certain section with the students (Genishi & Dyson, 2015). The teachers must identify the learners’ strength and weaknesses so that they can help them to grow perfectly and according to the nature of the students the teachers must decide the strategies (Tompkins et al., 2014).
The strategy of reading stories together is an effective way in this model. After finishing reading ask them to reflect on the messages discuss them in between them. The exchange of thoughts create free educational environment for the learners (Botzakis, Burns & Hall, 2014). After this, they should write or draw about what they just read. Eventually the students would take the dominant part in the reading activity. The teachers or parents must make sure there are fun elements in the stories. The conventional dull school books or dry stories would not help them much in learning. The illustrations in the books act as the links between the words and what the children perceive (Male, 2017). They make them easily understandable and enhance their creativity.
Classroom Practices Consistent with the Whole Language Model
The teacher plays both the roles of a writer and reader inside the classroom. When she teaches them, she uses her own experiences, related stories or illustrations. She communicates her own expertise and strategies for different courses. The writings of Donald Graves, Lucy Calkins, Nancy Atwell and Y. M. Goodman should be in the professional library which he would be referring (Sheehan, 2015). The teacher acknowledges the students as source of knowledge and the students also feel that they are capable of sharing their knowledge. The active participation results in active and quick learning. Fables, stories, poems, fictions and children friendly non fictions come under the literature section of it. The texts must be enjoyable for the learners. The texts must enable them to think, imagine freely. However not just the fun elements, it must include significant messages which can help them to build up their characters. There are many children literature available now from graphic novels to rhyme books which are interesting and innovative. The model always allows experimentation with effective new literature but the teachers act carefully while selecting them.
There has been a comparison between the whole language model and phonics instruction regarding which one is the best to teach in schools (Huang, 2014). The phonics model deals with the relationship between the written letters and spoken sounds. The literacy professionals not just act as facilitators while executing the whole language model in the education, they also act as researchers, readers and writers. Firstly the readers collect their prior experience, knowledge and experience of real life and sharing them in relation with the curriculum. Secondly the teachers are allowed to use new experiments in the activities. Finally, it allows the learners to use their own approaches. They even can use their own invented spelling. The whole language model is the reading method where the young learners read aloud and share thoughts or perform activities collaboratively. Not just the reading the sight reading is also encouraged. Through this whole language model Australian education has been experiencing significant progress in elementary schooling (Cope & Kalantzis, 2014). The adaptability and the continuous evaluation strategy make the model so powerful. The effectiveness of this literacy model is potent and one can understand easily why the method is winning over other models in the literacy world.
Botzakis, S., Burns, L. D., & Hall, L. A. (2014). Literacy reform and common core state standards: Recycling the autonomous model. Language Arts, 91(4), 223.
Choo, S., Sawch, D., Villanueva, A., & Vinz, R. (Eds.). (2016). Educating for the 21st Century: Perspectives, Policies and Practices from Around the World. Springer.
Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2014). The powers of literacy (RLE Edu I): A genre approach to teaching writing. Routledge.
Genishi, C., & Dyson, A. H. (2015). Children, language, and literacy: Diverse learners in diverse times. Teachers College Press.
Gültekin, M., Ci?erci, F.M. and Merç, A., 2013. Holistik E?itim. Journal of Education and Future, 1(3).
Huang, L. Y. (2014). Learning to Read with the Whole Language Approach: The Teacher's View. English Language Teaching, 7(5), 71-77.
Maddox, K. (2017). Whole Language Instruction vs. Phonics Instruction. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov
Male, A. (2017). Illustration: a theoretical and contextual perspective. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Nassaji, H. (2014). The role and importance of lower-level processes in second language reading. Language Teaching, 47(1), 1-37.
Sheehan, K. I. (2015). The Impact of Direct Writing Conventions Instruction on Second Grade Writing Mechanics Mastery (Doctoral dissertation, Nova Southeastern University).
Tompkins, G., Campbell, R., Green, D., & Smith, C. (2014). Literacy for the 21st century. Pearson Australia.
van der Veen, C., de Mey, L., van Kruistum, C., & van Oers, B. (2016). The effect of productive classroom talk and metacommunication on young children’s oral communicative competence and subject matter knowledge: An intervention study in early childhood education. Learning and Instruction, 30, 1e9.
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