The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 17, 2000


Reading instruction matches learning styles

Reading and writing instruction in Carlisle's early grades uses a balanced approach, reading specialist Susan Helenius-LaPorte told the school committee at their November 7 meeting. She works with students and teachers in kindergarten, first and second grades to help all the children learn to read. Teachers try to match teaching strategies with the learning style of each child. Early intervention helps prevent failures among children, said superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson. Since most schoolwork depends on reading, early literacy is important for future success, she added.

Helenius-LaPorte described the different types of reading experiences used with the students. These include teachers reading aloud to expose children to a variety of materials and to model good reading. Shared reading uses "big books," charts and poems to teach specific skills to the whole group. In guided reading teachers work with small groups of students of similar ability. Independent reading gives children an opportunity to select books of interest from baskets that are sorted by reading level.

Different types of instruction are also used. Explicit, direct, systematic instruction is used with phonics and punctuation, for example. Spontaneous instruction is used as the opportunity presents itself. Students are also taught to think about what they are reading and to understand the meaning.

Writing is approached in a similar way, Helenius-LaPorte said. There is shared writing, with the teacher using a large chart and the students working together to help write about a shared experience. Interactive writing allows the students to fill in missing parts of morning messages or other writing that the teacher does. This is often used to teach specific skills such as punctuation. Writing workshop provides mini-lessons for the class in areas that need work. Independent writing is used to write lists, letters and messages, as well as book recommendations and creative stories. Students also keep a writer's notebook where they can write down and develop ideas for stories.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito