Archived Information

State of the Art: Reading - November 1993


Ten ideas to transform instruction in reading and heighten literacy learning for all students are offered in this booklet. These ideas, some of which have already begun to take hold in classrooms across the country, are based on solid research findings and practical experience. They represent movement away from well-known reading instruction practices of the recent past which have endured for half a century. Changes in practice have been brought about largely due to dramatic gains in knowledge over the last two decades. Research has led to new understandings about basic cognitive and instructional processes, particularly those involved in reading comprehension.

According to Robinson et al. (1990), among practices in reading comprehension instruction dating back to the early 20th century in American schools, emphasis has shifted from

This shift reflects an evolving view of reading which is now considered to be a strategic process through which readers construct meaning by interacting with text. That is, readers use clues in the text and their own prior knowledge to assign meaning to what they read. Furthermore, interactions between the teacher, the student, the text, purposes for reading, and the context within which literacy events occur all come into play in the construction of meaning and the acquisition of reading strategies.

Finally, the shift among practices in reading comprehension instruction is toward understanding metacognition and helping students develop tools with which to direct their own learning. Moreover, this shift reflects recognition of the significant role teachers play in students' advancement along the literacy continuum. These and related topics are discussed in the pages that follow.

State of the Art: Transforming Ideas for Teaching and Learning To Read is addressed to teachers--key agents who ensure that each child enters the pathway to becoming a literate adult, and who guide students in their ascending journey every step of the way. This publication may also be shared with school administrators, policymakers, and parents who hold the common vision of heightened literacy learning for all children. Working with teachers, these persons can help provide the vital support needed to transform literacy instruction in classrooms. Together, they can ensure that every child becomes an able reader and critical thinker who is well prepared to embark upon a lifetime of learning.

[Table of Contents] [Children, when reading, construct their own meaning.]