First Steps Reading Developmental ContinuumMonitoring and Assessment | Four Resources GuidepostsFirst Steps Reading Developmental Continuum | Analysis of Reading Strategies |Read and Retell | Codes of Visual Text | SWOT Analysis | Self and Peer AssessmentSections of the First Steps Reading Developmental Continuum have been reproduced with the permission of First Steps.First Steps provides a framework for linking assessment with teaching and learning. It was researchedand developed over five years by the Education Department of Western Australia.First Steps cover the four areas of Oral Language, Reading, Writing and Spelling. For each area adevelopmental continuum has been prepared to identify the phases in a child’s development from pre-literacy to independence.The Developmental ContinuaThe continua have been developed to provide teachers with a way of looking at what children canactually do and how they can do it, in order to inform planning for further development. It is recognisedthat language learning is holistic and develops in relation to the context in which it is used. However,given the complexity of each mode of language, a continuum has been provided for reading, writing,spelling and oral language, in order to provide teachers with in-depth information in each one of theseareas.The Continua make explicit some of the indicators, or descriptors of behaviour, that will help teachersidentify how children are constructing and communicating meaning through language. The indicatorswere extracted from research into the development of literacy in English-speaking children. It was foundthat indicators tend to cluster together, ie if children exhibit one behaviour, they tend to exhibit severalother related behaviours. Each cluster of indicators was arbitrarily called a ‘phase’. This clustering ofindicators into phases allows teachers to map overall progress while demonstrating that children’slanguage does not develop in a linear sequence. The concept of a phase was shown to be valid by theAustralian Council for Education research in their initial research into the validity of the Writing:Developmental Continuum.Individual children may exhibit a range of indicators from various phases at any one time. ‘Key’indicators are used to place children within a specific phase, so that links can be made to appropriatelearning experiences. Key indicators describe behaviours that are typical of a phase. Developmentalrecords show that children seldom progress in a neat and well-sequenced manner; instead they mayremain in one phase for some length of time and move rapidly through other phases. Each child is aunique individual with different life experiences so that no two developmental pathways are the same.The indicators are not designed to provide evaluative criteria through which every child isexpected to progress in sequential order. They reflect a developmental view of teaching andlearning and are clearly related to the contexts in which development is taking place. That is, languagedevelopment is not seen as a ‘naturalistic’ or universal phenomena through which all children progress inthe same way. Children’s achievements, however, provide evidence of an overall pattern of developmentwhich accommodates a wide range of individual difference.MyRead is aimed at readers at stages 3, 4 and 5 of the Reading Developmental Continuum (shaded ingreen). Phases 3, 4 and 5 are described in detail below.
[larger image – GIF] [larger image – PDF]Indicators For Reading Developmental ContinuumPhase 3: Early ReadingMaking Meaning at Text Level Is beginning to read familiar texts confidently and can retell major contents from visual and printed texts, eg language experience recounts, shared books, simple informational texts and children’s television programs Can identify and talk about a range of different text forms such as letters, lists, recipes, stories, newspaper and magazine articles, television dramas and documentaries Demonstrates understanding that all texts, both narrative and informational, are written by authors who are expressing their own ideas Identifies the main topic of a story or informational text and supplies some supporting information Talks about characters in books using picture clues, personal experience and the text to make inferences Provides detail about characters, setting and events when retelling a story Talks about ideas and information from informational texts, making links to own knowledge Has a strong personal reaction to advertisements, ideas and information from visual and written texts Makes comparisons with other texts read or viewed. The reader’s comments could relate to theme, setting, character, plot, structure, information or the way the text is written Can talk about how to predict text content, eg ‘I knew that book hadn’t got facts in it. The dinosaurs had clothes on.’Making Meaning Using Context May read word-by-work or line-by-line when reading an unfamiliar text, ie reading performance may be work centred. Fluency and expression become stilted as the child focuses on decoding Uses picture cues and knowledge of context to check understanding of meaning Generally makes meaningful substitutions, however, over-reliance on graphonics may cause some meaning to be lost May sub-vocalise when reading difficult text ‘silently’ Is beginning to use self-correction as a strategy
Uses knowledge of sentence structure and punctuation to help make meaning (syntactic strategies) Sometimes reads-on to confirm meaning Re-reads passage in order to clarify meaning that may have been lost due to word-by-word reading. May re-read a phrase, a sentence or a paragraph Can talk about strategies used at the sentence level, eg ‘If I think it doesn’t sound right, I try again’ Is beginning to integrate prediction and substantiationMaking Meaning at Word Level Has a bank of words which are recognised when encountered in different contexts, eg in a book, on the blackboard, in the environment or on a chart Relies heavily on beginning letters and sounding-out for word identification (graphophonic strategies) Carefully reads text, demonstrating the understanding that meaning is vested in the words May point as an aid to reading, using finger, eyes or voice, especially when reading difficult text Locates words from sources such as word banks and environmental print When questioned can reflect on own word identification strategies, eg ‘I sounded it out’Attitude Is willing to have-a-go at reading unknown words Enjoys listening to stories Reads for a range of purposes, eg for pleasure or information Responds sensitively to stories read Discusses favourite books Talks about favourite author Selects own reading material according to interest, purpose and level of difficulty and, with teacher support, can reconstruct information gainedPhase 4: Transitional ReadingMaking Meaning at Text Level Shows an ability to construct meaning by integrating knowledge of: o Text structure, eg letter, narrative, report, recount, procedure o Text organisation, eg paragraphs, chapters, introduction, conclusion, contents, page index o Language features, eg descriptive language connectives such as because, therefore, ifÙthen o Subject specific language, eg the language of reporting in science and the language of a journalistic report Can retell and discuss own interpretation of texts read or viewed with others, providing information relating to plot and characterisation in narrative or to main ideas and supporting detail in informational text Recognises that characters can be stereotyped in a text, eg a mother looking after children at home while the father goes out to work or a prince rescuing a helpless maiden from an evil stepmother, and discusses how this could be changed Selects appropriate material and adjusts reading strategies for different texts and different purposes, eg skimming to search for a specific fact; scanning for a key word Makes inferences and predictions based on information which is not explicit and implicit in a text Makes generalisations based on interpretation of texts viewed or read, ie. confirms, extends, or amends own knowledge through reading or viewing Uses a range of strategies effectively to find relevant information in texts, eg makes use of table
of contents and index Reads orally with increasing fluency and expression. Oral reading reflects personal interpretation Selects texts effectively, integrating reading purpose and level of difficulty Makes comparisons with other texts read Recognises devices which influence construction of meaning such as the attribution of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ facial characteristics, clothing or language and the provision of emotive music and colour, and stereotypical roles and situations in written or visual textsStrategies for Making Meaning Using Context Is becoming efficient in using most of the following strategies for constructing meaning: o Makes predictions and is able to substantiate them o Self-corrects when reading o Re-reads to clarify meaning o Reads-on when encountering a difficult text o Slows down when reading difficult texts o Substitutes familiar words o Uses knowledge of print conventions, eg capitalisation, full stops, commas, exclamation marks, speech marks Makes meaningful substitutions, ie. replacement miscues are meaningful, eg ‘cool’ drink for ‘cold’ drink. The integration of the three cuing systems (semantic, syntactic and graphophonic) is developing Is able to talk about some of the strategies for making meaningMaking Meaning at Word Level Has an increasing bank of sight words, including some difficult and subject-specific words, eg science, experiment, February, Christmas Is becoming efficient in the use of the following word identification strategies for constructing meaning: o Sounds-out to decode words o Uses initial letters as a cue to decoding o Uses knowledge of common letter patterns to decode words, eg th, tion, scious, ough o Uses known parts of words to make sense of the whole word o Uses blending to decode words, eg str-ing o Uses word segmentation and syllabification to make sense of the whole wordAttitude Is self-motivated to read for pleasure Reads for a range of purposes Responds sensitively to stories Discusses favourite books May discover a particular genre, eg adventure stories (may seek out other titles of this type) Shows a marked preference for a specific type of book or author Makes comparisons with other texts read Demonstrates confidence when reading different textsPhase 5: Independent ReadingMaking Meaning at Text Level Can recognise and discuss the elements and purposes of different text structures, eg reports, procedures, biographies, narratives, advertisements, dramas, documentaries Reads and comprehends text that is abstract and removed from personal experience Makes inferences based on implicit information drawn from a text and can provide justification for these inferences Returns purposefully to make connections between widely separated sections of a text
Makes critical comparisons between texts Can discuss an alternative reading of a text and offer possible reasons why a text may be interpreted differently by different readers or viewers Talks with others about interesting or difficult content Can justify own interpretation of a text Comments and makes judgements on the ways authors represent people from different cultural and socio-economic groups Is beginning to recognise and appreciate that authors manipulate language in a variety of ways to clarify and enhance meaning Can recognise and discuss the elements and purpose of different text structures, eg biography, mystery Reflects on and discusses issues and topics that have emerged when reading or viewing Challenges and criticises text and topics, offering supportive evidence Organises logical responses to a text Selects relevant information for own purpose Identifies and synthesises points of view Draws conclusions from text and generalises about information extracted from them May compare self and own experiences with fictional characters to enrich understanding Reads and comments critically on materials such as news items, magazine articles and advertisements and letters in the press, identifying techniques and features designed to influence readers Applies basic research skills effectively such as identifying informational needs, using knowledge of library organisation and text organisation and extracting relevant information from data base, catalogue or bookMaking Meaning Using Context Uses a range of strategies automatically when constructing meaning from text: o Self-corrects o Re-reads o Reads-on o Slows down o Sub-vocalisesMaking Meaning at Word Level Uses word identification strategies appropriately and automatically when encountering an unknown word o Knowledge of graphophonics o Knowledge of word patterns o Knowledge of word derivations, morphographs, prefixes, suffixes and syllabificationAttitude May avidly pursue a favourite author. Books may be compared and recommended to others Feels strongly about reading preferences and can justify opinions Is totally absorbed when reading Sees books as a major source of information Empathises strongly with admired characters in fictionReferencesFirst Steps Reading Developmental Continuum. (1997). Melbourne: Rigby Heinemann.
Analysis of Reading StrategiesMonitoring and Assessment | Four Resources GuidepostsFirst Steps Reading Developmental Continuum | Analysis of Reading Strategies |Read and Retell | Codes of Visual Text | SWOT Analysis | Self and Peer AssessmentAnalysis of Reading Strategies is an individualised assessment that was developed initially by KenGoodman. It provides in-depth information about what strategies a reader is using and helps to identifyareas that need attention for reading to develop. Max Kemps work which draws on both Goodman andMarie Clay is perhaps more widely known in Australia.Reading-with-Understanding Running RecordAn alternative to Analysis of Reading Strategies that is widely used with younger readers is the RunningRecord devised by Marie Clay. An adaption of the Running Record was developed for use with olderreaders in New Zealand for the SARR (Supporting At-Risk readers) project. Older readers need to beassessed on their ability to read silently as well as their ability to read aloud.Gaelene Rowe, Helen Lamont, May Daly, Debra Edwards & Sarah Mayor Cox, authors of Success withReading & Writing: helping at-risk students 8-13 years, (2000), have kindly given us permission toinclude information about a Reading-with-Understanding Running Record from their book. Examples ofcompleted Reading-with-Understanding Running Record sheets are included in their book.Reading and Writing AssessmentReading AssessmentA teacher needs to draw from a range of possible assessment tools in order to identify the aspects ofreading over which a student is developing control, and those where a student still needs some support.This section outlines some assessment techniques which are useful for varying purposes.Example one: If a student appears not to understand the text material which they can read aloudfluently, a Reading-With-Understanding Running Record would be a starting place for more information.Then assessing with a TORCH passage or a cloze passage would give further data on the kind ofcomprehension skills that could be developed in a support program.Example two: If a student is having difficulty reading the class material it will be necessary to take aReading-With-Understanding Running Record to identify the cue-sources that are used and the cue-sources that are neglected. It will also become clear in the Running Record what reading strategies thestudent needs help to develop, and whether or not they are understanding what they are reading.Reading-With-Understanding Running RecordReaders need to be able to understand written material when they read it silently. When a teacherbegins to help students with their reading, the first task is to assess how well they get meaning fromtext they read silently. It is also important to identify if the material is too difficult. The Reading-With-Understanding Running Record has become a standard tool for getting this information.The teacher presents the passage to the student saying, "This, passage is about ...( give a very briefstatement in a sentence) ... I want you to read it to yourself, then tell me about it. "After completing the silent reading, the student retells the passage to demonstrate his/her level ofunderstanding. The teacher must recognise that at first some pupils may be unfamiliar with the task ofretelling. This alerts the teacher to the need for some instruction in how to retell a passage.Consideration should also be given as to how much can be taken in by the student in their first readingof a text. As an adult, retelling a newspaper editorial after a quick read will give you a feeling for whatcan reasonably be expected after one reading of a passage.
There are a variety of ways that students will retell text. One reader may give a global response: "It isabout an expedition to the Chat.” Another may retell the passage in sequence; others may give mainideas; some may give unconnected items from the text.The teachers role at this stage is as a receiver of information – the neutral observer. The teacher shouldnot question or engage in dialogue about the passage but simply record what the student says. It isuseful to allow students to refer to the passage if they choose to do so.When the retelling is completed and the points are recorded the student is instructed to read thepassage aloud. The teacher then takes a Running Record (refer to Clay, 1993, An Observation Surveyfor information on how to do this). After the oral reading the teacher may seek clarification of pointsfrom the retelling by saying, "Did you find out anymore as you read it aloud?" or "I was not sure whatyou meant when you said that. Can you help me? "The information gained about the students reading and comprehension from a Reading-With-Understanding Running Record enables a teacher to find Easy, Instructional and Hard levels of text foreach student.97-100% Accuracy: Easy92-96% Accuracy: InstructionalBelow 91% Accuracy: HardAnalysis of the Running Record at the Hard Level will show where the processes are breaking down andwill give information on the use of the meaning, structure and visual cues.A student may have read the text with 97-100% accuracy but have failed to demonstrate any realunderstanding of the text either in the retelling or in response to the probe questions. This information iscrucial and indicates that the material is at the Hard Level, even if the Running Record taken of thestudent reading aloud indicates that the text is at Easy or Instructional level, since the student is notunderstanding what they are reading. The teacher will then plan for instruction accordingly.Retelling is a useful indicator of understanding. Cambourne discusses it as a means of assessmentin The Whole Story (1988: 173)He points out that effective readers retellings are: well organised, with evidence of selection and organisation of relevant detail typically contain the main points and/or essence of the original text are often characterized by paraphrases which capture the original meanings with different vocabularyHe further points out that less able readers retellings: are usually lists of unconnected items or events from the original text lack coherence and focus sound like an incomprehensible maze of disconnected discourse display little evidence of effective paraphrase show unsuccessful rote memorisation of the precise words and phrases used in the original textCambourne (1988) concludes by stating that good readers: know that they should work actively and deliberately towards making sense of (comprehending) what it is they are reading are aware when comprehension is not occurringLess-effective readers, as a group, do not have the same focus.
Reading-With-Understanding Running Record Administration Procedure 1. Gather the texts (at the appropriate level) selected for Reading-With-Understanding Running Records. 2. Set the student at ease while filling in name, class, age, and date on the scoring sheet. 3. Introduce the passage by reading the title and saying: "This passage is about … and the people are ... I want you to read it to yourself, then tell me about it.” 4. As the student retells the passage, record the points covered in UNDERSTANDING on summary sheet. Teachers will need to have read every selected passage and be aware of two or three main points in each before assessing the quality of the retelling. If a student shows complete understanding, do not take a Running Record: offer another passage at the same level of a different type of writing. 5. After the retelling say: "Now you can read the passage to me carefully." Record all reading behaviour on the score sheet. 6. After oral reading probe the students understanding of the text by asking for further comment on points made in the retelling, eg "Tell me some more about ... Did you find out anything else?" One or two probes are sufficient. Enter the information on the Summary Sheet. 7. Analyse the data using the Summary Sheet. Complete the form by setting teaching objectives.Analysis: Refer frequently to these notes when learning how to analyse errors.When analysing a students reading, teachers might ask themselvesthese questions:Is the student trying to make sense of what is being read? (semantic cues ... meaning ... M) Does itmake sense?Is knowledge of language patterns being used? (syntactic cues ... structure ... S) Does that sound right?Is knowledge of letters and their associated sounds being used? (graphophonic cues ... visual … V) Doesthat look similar?Are confirmation and self-correction strategies being used?Download and copy the Reading With Understanding Running RecordSummary SheetFor further information and procedures see:Clay, M. (3rd Edition 1987). The Early Detection of Reading Difficulties. New Zealand: Heinemann.Kemp, M. (1987). Watching Children Read & Write. Melbourne: Nelson Australia.Rowe, G., Lamont, H., Daly, M., Edwards, D. & Mayor Cox, S. (2000). Success with Reading & Writing:helping at-risk students 8-13 years. Victoria: Eleanor Curtain Publishing.
Read and RetellMonitoring and Assessment | Four Resources GuidepostsFirst Steps Reading Developmental Continuum | Analysis of Reading Strategies |Read and Retell | Codes of Visual Text | SWOT Analysis | Self and Peer AssessmentA Read and Retell enables practice in a range of literacy skills including reading, writing, listening,speaking, thinking, interacting, comparing, matching, selecting and organising information,remembering and comprehending.As an assessment tool, it provides information about comprehension, sequencing of ideas and writingskills.Preparation 1. It is important that the context be carefully set by the teacher for the use of the retelling. Students must feel that they are doing it to help them become better readers and writers, not that they are being tested. 2. In selecting a text, ensure students have had previous experience with the genre/text type, eg fables, fairy stories, reports. 3. Texts should be of high interest and within the students’ reading ability. 4. After selecting the text and making multiple copies, fold and staple so that only the title is visible.The Retelling 1. Students read the title and write: one or two sentences on what the text with such a title might be about some words/phrases that might be in the text if your prediction was right. 2. Students share or compare these predictions with a partner or small group. 3. Everyone reads the text individually. Read in order to enjoy and understand. Read as many times as you need to recall. Some students may benefit from having the story read to them first as a scaffold to them reading the text alone. 4. Retell the text, writing in your own words. Write as much as you can recall for someone who has not read the text. You must not look back at the text.Sharing and DiscussingIn pairs or small groups ask students to discuss: 1. How are your retellings different from each other and how are they different from the original text? 2. Muddled meanings: Did you muddle, change or omit anything so that the author’s meaning was changed? 3. Paraphrase power: Did you use any words which were different from those in the text but mean the same? 4. Borrow a Bit: If you could borrow a bit from your partner’s retelling, which bit would you borrow? Why?ReflectionsAsk students to write down any new learnings they have made during the session and/or any concernsthey have. They could also write about what they would like to work on to improve their reading andwriting skills.
Sample Text for a Read and RetellExcerpt from Barbed Wire and Gold Bannisters by Kay ArthurJessie was fighting with the gate. It was heavy, and hard to drag back across the bumps and the dust.She pushed at it until there was just enough room to squeeze through without getting covered in toomuch rust and dirt, and without tearing her school dress on the bits of barbed wire sticking out. Shegrunted a bit, and swore a lot, as she struggled to push the gate closed after her. And then came theJack Attack.The Jack Attack was always the same. A big, strong streak of yellow labrador would race fromsomewhere out the back, belt around the side of the house, jump at her at full speed, claws and pawsscratching as high as her shoulders. Jessie said all the ‘Down boy!...Easy...Okay’ things people say todogs in such situations, but it always took a few minutes for the Jack Attack to subside.Tonight she really wasn’t in the mood to fight with the gate, or to fight with Jack, but Jack wasn’t thekind of dog who understood these things. So, he clawed and slobbered his hellos until Jessie gave in andsat her bum down in the dust on the top step of the verandah. She untangled herself from thebackstraps of her school bag and grabbed the soft, yellow ears between her fists and wrestled withJack’s big grinning doggy head.ReferencesBrown, H. & Cambourne, B. (1987). Read and Retell. Australia: Methuen.Arthur, K. (1997). Barbed Wire and Gold Bannisters. In Hyde, M. (ed.). The Girl Who Married a Fly andother stories. Adelaide: Australian Association for the Teaching of English.
Models of teaching and learning One-Sided Models Sociocultural Model Curriculum-centred Student-Centred Teaching/learning Centred Vygotsky, Rogoff, Bruner, Skinner, Pavlov, Piaget, Chomsky, Hillocks, Dewey: Child andHistorical Roots Thorndike Geselle, Rousseau Curriculum Experience and EducationTheoretical Progressivism Coconstructivism BehaviourismOrientation Cognitivism Socioculturalism Transmission ofHow learning Acquisition of knowledge: Teaching is Transformation of participationoccurs knowledge telling Students have biological limits that All knowledge is socially and affect when and how culturally constructed. What Both teacher and student they can learn; and how the student learnsImplications for are passive; curriculum teachers must now depends on what opportunitiesinstruction determines the sequence ‘push’ students the teacher/parent provides. of timing of instruction. beyond the limits. Learning is not ‘natural’ but Knowledge is a depends on interactions with ‘natural’ product of more expert others. development.Student’s role ‘Empty vessel’ Active constructor Collaborative participant Observe learners closely, as Create the individuals and groups. environment in which Scaffold learning within the individual learner canTeacher’s role Transmit the curriculum zone of proximal development, develop in set stages- match individual and collective implies single and curricula to learners’ needs. natural course Create inquiry environment. Teacher-guided participation in Student-selected both small-and large-groupDominant Teacher lectures; students reading, student- work; recording and analysinginstructional memorise material for selected projects, individual student progress;activities tests discovery learning explicit assistance to reach higher levels of competence The student: He can’t keep The student: He has a The more capable others: TheyWho is up with the curriculum ‘developmental delay’, have not observed the learnerresponsible if sequence and pace of a disability, or is not closely, problem-solved thestudent does not lessons or meet the ‘ready’ for the school’s learner’s difficulty, matchedprogress? demands of prescriptive program. Often, family instruction to the learner, made school program. or social conditions are ‘informed’ decisions, or helped
at fault. the learner ‘get ready’.What Is Learned Must Be TaughtAn important argument in educational practice today centres on the debate of whether learning canproceed naturally and without much intervention or whether what is learned must be taught. While weagree that creating an environment in which kids will naturally grow and learn is attractive, both Hillocks(1999) and Vygotsky would maintain that teachers who believe or enact only this vision are lettingthemselves off the hook. Both argue that anything that is learned must be actively taught.We make thousands of teaching decisions a day and all the decisions we make are theoretical, based onwhat we value, on what we think we are doing or should be doing, and on what we think will worktoward those purposes. We want our decisions to work to support learning for all of our kids, eventhough some didnt do the reading, some did it and have no clue, some are five chapters ahead, and allare at widely different skill levels. What can we do so that our teaching is effective for all of our studentsin ways that work and make sense to us and to the kids? How can we teach so they can understand thepurpose and use of what we do together in class, so they can all develop new abilities built on the skillsthey already possess, and so they can understand a higher purpose, pattern, and sense to classroomwork?Powerful TeachingGeorge Hillocks maintains that teachers should and can possess specialised knowledge of students, ofparticular content and tasks, and of how to represent and teach this knowledge. Hillocks argues that‘teaching is a transitive verb’ and that it ‘takes both a direct and an indirect object’ (1995). In otherwords, when we teach, we teach something to somebody. We need to know both our subject andstudent. We need to know how to teach in general, and in particular situations with the particular skillscalled for in that situation or with that text.Shulman (1987) argues that there is a knowledge base for teaching and that it includes the following: knowledge of students knowledge of the subject to be taught general knowledge of teaching processes, management, and organisation that ‘transcend the subject matter’ pedagogical content knowledge’, which includes: curricular knowledge of ‘materials and programs; knowledge of how to teach particular kinds of content; knowledge of educational contexts and situations; and knowledge of educational ends, purposes, and values.Wed include as ‘pedagogical content knowledge’ what we as teachers know about our theoreticalorientations toward learning, toward reading, toward literature, and the like. When we know thesethings, then theory allows practices to stem in a wide-awake way from an articulate and unified set ofprinciples. These principles can then lead us to scrutinise our teaching and to up the ante on it, pushingus forward to more powerful teaching.The Essential Vygotsky: A Theoretical Perspective When you assign a task and the students successfully complete it without help, they could already do it. They have been taught nothing.Zones of DevelopmentPerhaps Vygotsky’s most influential ideas are those related to zones of development. What a child cando alone and unassisted is a task that lies in what Vygotsky calls the zone of actual development (ZAD).When a teacher assigns a task and the students are able to do it, the task is within the ZAD. They havealready been taught and have mastered the skills involved in that task. I remember many times in my
own teaching career when I made such an assignment and exulted at my teaching prowess when themost excellent projects were submitted. Vygotsky wouldnt have been so sanguine. He would say thatthe kids could already do what I asked them to do, and I had taught them nothing.The place where instruction and learning can take place is the zone of proximal development (ZPD).Learning occurs in this cognitive region, which lies just beyond what the child can do alone. Anythingthat the child can learn with the assistance and support of a teacher, peers, and the instructionalenvironment is said to lie within the ZPD. A childs new capacities can only be developed in the ZPDthrough collaboration in actual, concrete, situated activities with an adult or more capable peer. Withenough assisted practice, the child internalises the strategies and language for completing this task,which then becomes part of the childs psychology and personal problem-solving repertoire. When this isachieved, the strategy then enters the students zone of actual development, because she is now able tosuccessfully complete the task alone and without help and to apply this knowledge to new situations shemay encounter.Of course, there are assignments and tasks that lie beyond the ZPD, and even with expert assistancethe student is incapable of completing the task. I have unwittingly given many assignments andassigned many books during my career that were beyond the ZPD of most of my students. Suchassignments, no matter what the curriculum might proclaim, are acts of hopelessness that lead tofrustration. In fact, such texts are designated by Analytical and Informal Reading Inventories to be atthe students frustrational reading level. If youve taught books that are at many of your students’frustrational level, then you know that teaching them lies in the teachers frustrational level as well! Vygotsky viewed teaching as leading development instead of responding to it, if teaching is in the ZPD.Texts at the independent level are those the student can read alone (and are therefore in the ZAD).Texts at the instructional level are those that students can read with help, and through which studentswill learn new content and new procedures of reading (because the demands of reading that book lie inthe ZPD – they can be learned with the appropriate assistance). These are the kinds of texts studentsneed to be reading. They must be carefully chosen and matched to students, and they must beaccompanied with instructional assistance for developing strategies of reading. It is important toremember that the difficulty of a particular text depends on many factors: the students purpose forreading, motivation, background knowledge, how distant the content and ideas are from kids’experience, the vocabulary, the inference load (the amount and kind of inferences required forunderstanding), student familiarity with the genre, the genre expectations and the strategies that arerequired to comprehend it, understanding of the authors purpose and so forth. Teaching can leaddevelopment when students are able to be successful with support. Teaching of tasks that cannot besuccessfully completed with assistance lie outside the ZPD.Students develop new cognitive abilities when a teacher leads them through task-oriented interactions.Depending on various factors, a teacher will lend various levels of assistance over various iterations oftask completion. The goal is to allow the students to do as much as they can on their own, and then tointervene and provide assistance when it is needed so that the task can be successfully completed.Vygotsky stressed that students need to engage in challenging tasks that they can successfully completewith appropriate help. Happily, Vygotsky points out that teaching in such a way develops the teacherjust as attentive parenting matures the parent. Learning always proceeds from the known to the new. Good teaching will recognise and build on this connection.A metaphor that has been used to describe this kind of teaching is ‘scaffolding’. The student is seen asconstructing an edifice that represents her cognitive abilities. The construction starts from the groundup, on the foundation of what is already known and can be done. The new is built on top of the known.The teacher has to provide this scaffold to support the construction, which is proceeding from theground into the atmosphere of the previously unknown. The scaffold is the environment the teachercreates, the instructional support, and the processes and language that are lent to the student in thecontext of approaching a task and developing the abilities to meet it.
Scaffolding must begin from what is near to the students experience and build to what is further fromtheir experience. Likewise, at the beginning of a new task, the scaffolding should be concrete, external,and visible. Vygotskian theory shows that learning proceeds from the concrete to the abstract. This iswhy math skills are learned from manipulatives, and fractions from pies and graphs. Eventually theseconcrete and external models can be internalised and used for abstract thought. One of the problemswith reading is that the processes are internal, hidden, and abstract. There are many strategies(protocols, drama and visualisation strategies, symbolic story representation) for making hiddenprocesses external, visible, and available to students so that they can be scaffolded to use and masternew strategies of reading. Students have a need to develop and exhibit competence. Teachers must assist them to develop competence as they engage in challenging tasks in which they can be successful.The ultimate goal, of course, is to bring the previously unmastered processes of completing a task intothe students’ ZAD so that they can do the task without help. Reaching this point requires lots of supportand practice and is a significant learning accomplishment.Vygotskian theorists stress that children need to engage in tasks with which they can be successful withthe assistance provided. They also stress that the child needs to have strengths identified and built upon(in contrast with the deficit model of teaching, in which a students weaknesses are identified andremediated), and requires individual attention from the teacher.Context and situation are also essential and integral to all learning. So students need to be engaged inreal everyday activities that have purpose and meaning. To quote Brown, Collins, and DuGuid (1989): A meaningful learning context is crucial. Learning is purposeful and situated.It is important that the teacher gradually releases responsibility to the student until the task can becompleted independently.Learners can only begin to learn within their individual zones of proximal development, current interestsand present state of being. But humane teaching can develop new interests, new ways, of doing things, and new states of being.Vygotsky wrote, ‘What the child can do in cooperation today he can do alone tomorrow’ (1934). He alsonoted that ‘instruction is good only when it proceeds ahead of development. It then awakens and rousesto life those functions which are in a state of maturing, which lie in the zone of proximal development. Itis in this way that instruction plays an extremely important role in development’ (1956).In this way, we would critique natural-language-learning classrooms, in which children are placed innurturing environments where it is assumed they will naturally grow and bloom. Though we know thatmany workshop classrooms do provide expert assistance through mini lessons, and through a variety ofpeer interactions and projects that can provide peer and environmental assistance, we believe that suchclassrooms often fail to push students to learn how to engage strategically with new text structures,conventions of meaning making, and new ideas. (We are all speaking from personal experience, and arecritiquing our own practice in workshop settings.) The teacher in such situations often fails to lend herfull consciousness to students or to set appropriate challenges, simply encouraging and allowingstudents to pursue their own paths. We do not want our students to naturally unfold into what they weresupposedly ‘predestined’ to be, or imagined to be predestined to be. We want them to develop thecapacity and awareness to choose who they will be and what they will do.‘When Work Is Play for Mortal Stakes’Its worth mentioning that Vygotsky stressed the importance of playfulness and imaginary play tolearning. In our own schools, theres an amazing split between teachers who believe that learning shouldbe fun, and those who believe that learning should be hard work. Our interpretation of Vygotsky is that
he would agree with both parties (though primarily with the first group): we think hed maintain thatteaching and learning should be play that does ‘WORK’, by which we mean that the learning will have animmediate application, function, and real-world use.A Teaching Model based on VygotskyStudent Responsibility-> Adult-Then Joint-Responsibility-> Self-ResponsibilityZone of Actual Development Zone of Proximal Development Assistance provided by more Transition fromWhat the student Assistance capable others: teacher or peer other Internalisation,can do on her own provided by the or environment:classroom assistance to automatisationunassisted self structures and activities self-assistance SOCIAL SPEECH INNER SPEECH •Adult uses language to The students silent, model process abbreviated dialogue that she • Adult and student carries on with self that is the share language and essence of conscious mental activity activity PRIVATE SPEECH student uses for herself language that adults use to regulate behaviour (self-control) Private speech internalised and transformed to inner verbal thought (self- regulation)Hillocks draws heavily on the research on both student engagement and potential and argues that: 1. The best learning is fun. 2. Engaged learning is fun because it is challenging, relevant, and purposeful but is supported in a way that makes success possible. 3. Almost all students can and will learn given supportive teaching and effective learning environments.Models of Teaching and Learning:Flowing from TheoryThe Vygotskian-inspired, sociocultural-based, learning-centred model is so radically different from thetwo most dominant models of teaching and learning (teacher-centred and student-centred) that mostpeople have never considered it. This is because this new model is two-sided and requires mutual effortand responsibility on the part of learners and teachers, whereas the dominant models are one-sided andplace nearly complete responsibility for learning with the student. As a result, the two-sided modelrequires a completely different kind of classroom and definition of teaching – one that may not look atall like what we have all experienced during our own schooling.Because the dominant models of teaching and learning in our culture are linear, one-sided models, itsbeen typical to consider students responsible for learning: in the curriculum/teacher-centred model theteacher is an adult who runs the show and transmits information to students, whose job it is to ‘get it.’In this transmission model the teacher provides an information conduit to the student, who is solely
responsible for receiving and later retrieving this data. This model is referred to variously as a teacher-centred, presentational, curriculum-centred, or an industrial model of education.Others argue that education should be ‘student-run’. Proponents of this view often cite constructivistnotions by arguing that learning is the province of learners, who must necessarily construct their ownunderstandings. Knowledge is acquired by learners in the process of their self-initiated inquiries andpersonal investigations. Again, it is the student who is responsible. No one else can ‘do’ learning forthem and their achievement of new knowledge requires active involvement and personal exploration.This progressive model is often seen in workshop types of settings in which teachers provide anenvironment full of opportunities and materials with which students may choose to engage. This modelis often referred to as student-centred, participatory, exploratory, or natural-process learning.An entirely different point of view is proposed by researchers, theorists, and teachers influenced byVygotskian psychology, and to some degree by Bakhtinian notions of dialogism. Rogoff, Matusov, andWhite (1996) propose to call this a ‘community of learners’ model in that, as Vygotsky suggests, itinvolves both active learners and more expert partners, usually adults, who will provide leadership andassistance to the less skilled learners as they engage together in a community of practice. In this model,it is the teacher who is responsible for students’ learning, or their failure to learn.Communities of practice attempt to create meaning and solve problems in a real context. Rogoff,Matusov, and White write that learning is not about ‘transmitting’ or ‘acquiring’ knowledge, but is about‘transformation’, namely about transforming the nature of ones participation in a collaborativeendeavour. As the learners participation is transformed, for example, he becomes a more active andexpert member of the community of practice, often moving from observer to participant to leader ofcollaborative activity. But the more expert partners participation will also be transformed as she learnsabout new ways to teach and new ways to participate and how to change her roles relative to thechanging roles of others. Everyone is learning and working together to achieve a common purpose thatwill be useful beyond the world of school.The community of learners instructional model supersedes the pendulum entirely: it is not a compromiseor a ‘balance’ of the adult-run and children-run models. Its theoretical notion is that learning is a processof transformation of participation in which both adults and children contribute support and direction inshared endeavours (Rogoff, Matusov, and White 1996, 389).These authors and many others have argued forcefully that the sociocultural context in which learningoccurs, and the way in which something is learned, are necessarily a part of the learning. Therefore,students learning according to different models would learn in different situations and in different ways.This would affect how they come to understand and participate with different aspects of how informationis represented and used. So, each model results in learning of a very different kind.Our goal is for students to develop a wide repertoire of reading strategies that they can independentlydeploy in a wide variety of situations with a wide variety of texts, and our ultimate purpose is that theyuse these strategies to participate democratically in their communities and cultures. We find thatapplying Vygotskian learning theory to our teaching is what best helps us to meet these goals.Ways of Assisting Readers through Their Zones of Proximal development: Modes ofScaffoldingThe figure below is available either as an Acrobat PDF (web readers: if you need the Acrobat reader,click here), as a larger screen-sized image, or as an A4 print-sized image.
ReferencesBrown, J., Collins, A., & DuGuid, P. (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. EducationalResearcher, 18, 32-42.Hillocks, G. (1995). Teaching Writing as Reflective Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.Hillocks, G. (1999). Ways of Thinking/Ways of Teaching. New York: Teachers College Press.Rogoff. B., Matusov, B., and White, S. (1996). Models of Teaching and Learning: Participation in aCommunity of Learners. In D. Olson & N. Torrance (eds.), The Handbook of Cognition and HumanDevelopment. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 388-414.Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the New Reform. Harvard EducationalReview, 15(2), 1-22.Wilhelm, J., Baker, T. & Dube, J. (2001). Strategic Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.Vygotsky, L. (1934/1986). Thought and Language, trans. A. Kozulin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UniversityPress.Vygotsky, L. (1956). Selected Psychological Investigations. Moscow: Izdstel’sto Pedagogical Academy.Nauk: SSR.