U sing Different Types of Texts for Effective Reading Instruction J. D AV I D C O O P E R I n t ro d u c t i o n Teaching children to read is both exciting and challenging. It is exciting because the gratification that comes from seeing a beginning reader pick up a book and read on his/ her own is like no other experience a teacher can have.
It is exciting to see older students become mature and accomplished re a d e r s . Teaching reading is challenging because there is so much knowledge that we have gained over the decades and knowing how to use this knowledge becomes critical. Teaching reading is challenging because it is controversial, especially at the begin- ning levels of instruction.
Much of the contro v e r s y about beginning reading has focused around phon- ics and decoding and how these jobs of re a d i n g should be taught. Teaching reading is challenging because even with all the knowledge we have, t h e re are still many questions that we are unable to answer . In years past, an oversimplified approach was sometimes taken ... more. less.
to reading instruction.<br><br> Te a c h e r s usually had a single book that they used for most or even all their students. Sometimes teachers gro u p e d students and had diff e rent students reading in dif- f e rent levels of books. However, as we have gained new knowledge it has become much clearer that in o rder to meet the varying needs of students as they learn to read, we need a variety of types of texts.<br><br> The use of diff e rent types of texts is most significant at the beginning levels of reading. The purpose of this paper is to identify and discuss the diff e re n t types of texts that are needed for effective reading instru c t i o n . H ow Children Learn to Re a d C h i l d ren learn to read in a variety of ways.<br><br> R e s e a rchers and reading specialists agree that as c h i l d ren develop the skill of reading, they go t h rough a variety of developmental stages (Adams, 1990; Chall, 1983; Cooper & Kiger, 2001; Juel, 1991; R u p l e y, Wilson, & Nichols, 1998). As childre n p ro g ress from beginning reading to mature re a d i n g , t h e re are many diff e rent strategies and skills that are learned and diff e rent tasks that are performed at each stage. For example, at the beginning re a d i n g stage, children focus heavily on learning to decode w o rds; as Ehri (1985; 1991; 1997) notes, there are four stages in learning this process: pre - a l p h a b e t i c , partial alphabetic, full alphabetic, and consolidated alphabetic (see Pikulski, Templeton, and Chard , 2000, for a full discussion).<br><br> At the same time, C u r r e n t R e s e a r c h I N R E A D I N G / L A N G UAG E A RTS Types of Texts for Reading Instruction T h e re are six distinctly diff e rent types of texts that can be used for reading instruction: word l e s s books; predictable texts; controlled high-fre q u e n c y vocabulary texts; decodable texts; authentic litera- t u re; and created, easy-to-read texts. Presented in Table 1 is a brief description with major uses for each type of text. All texts can be used at all grade levels but some are more appropriate for beginning reading instru c t i o n .<br><br> c h i l d ren are learning the basic elements of becom- ing effective comprehenders. Beyond the beginning reading stage, most children have mastered decod- ing and their focus shifts to developing the use of m o re strategies to help them construct meaning. Each strategy, skill, and task often calls for the use of diff e rent types of text.<br><br> In fact, at any given point on the continuum from beginning reading to m a t u re reading, several diff e rent types of texts can and should be used simultaneously. What exactly a re the diff e rent types of texts that can be used for reading instru c t i o n ? Wo rdless B o o k s Text composed only of illustrations or photographs.<br><br> No print is given. A way to help children develop a concept of themselves as readers, develop oral language, and develop self-expre s s i o n . Predictable Texts Texts that utilize a repeated pattern of some type.<br><br> May be authentic literature or created text. Used as a way to introduce children to reading through shared reading and to provide practice through repeated readings. C o n t rolled H i g h - Frequency Vo c a b u l a ry Te x t s Text written specifically for beginning reading instruction using a core of high- f requency words that have been c a refully intro d u c e d .<br><br> P rovide practice in reading high- f requency word s . Decodable Texts Text written using words that utilize decoding skills students have been taught. P rovide practice and application of phonics and structural skills that have been taught.<br><br> Authentic L i t e ra t u re Stories and informational texts where no attempts have been made to contro l the words, patterns, or decoding elements used in the text. The text is in the original form written by the author. Used for practice and application of reading once students have developed beginning decoding skills.<br><br> Also used for s h a red reading and read aloud. C reated, E a s y - t o - Read Texts Stories and informational texts that have been written to control the level of difficulty and some aspect of skill application. Used for practice and application of reading skills for students who may be experiencing difficulty in certain aspects of learning to read or need practice in applying a targeted skill or strategy.<br><br> Table 1:Types of Texts for Reading Instruction Type Description Major Use Wo rdless Books Wo rdless books are a part of the category of chil- d ren 9s literature identified as picture books (Norton, 1991). These are books that tell their story or pre s e n t their information through illustrations or photo- graphs without printed words on the page. Wo rdless books have varying degrees of detail and c o m p l e x i t y.<br><br> There f o re, they can be used for a variety of purposes at a variety of levels. Wo rdless books have been recommended for developing oral language and self-expression for all students (Strickland, 1977). They are especially use- ful for working with English language learners ( P e regoy & Boyle, 1997).<br><br> Examples of well-known w o rdless books include B o b o 9s Dre a m ( A l e x a n d e r, 1970), Do You Want to Be My Friend? (Carle, 1971), and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick ( Van A l l s b u rg, 1984). Wo rdless books are useful for introducing stu- dents to the concept of a book.<br><br> Young children can develop an understanding of what a book is and that it presents a story or information. There is no t h reat from print on the page and they can be fun for students. Tiedt (2000) recommends the use of w o rdless books for students even in the middle school.<br><br> Students at the early stages of literacy devel- opment can use these books as ways to develop v o c a b u l a r y, oral language, and self-expre s s i o n . Second language learners can use them as a way to build the connection between their native language and English. T h e re are numerous places in the re a d i n g / l i t e r a- cy program where wordless books can be used eff e c t i v e l y : 1.<br><br> During beginning reading to develop oral language, vocabulary, concept of story, and concept of books. 2. For second language learners as they develop their foundation for English re a d i n g .<br><br> 3. For older students in the elementary and mid- dle school levels who need to develop a better understanding of being a reader or for those who need foundational skills. Tiedt (2000) suggests that older students can develop their own wordless books to share with younger readers.<br><br> Students who might be good artists but dislike reading can utilize their strength in art to help them develop a more positive atti- tude about re a d i n g . 4. For students at all levels, wordless books can serve as a stimulus for writing.<br><br> Predictable Te x t s P redictable texts are ones that have a re p e a t e d pattern of some type. Bridge et al. (1983) identified seven patterns of predictability in texts: 1.<br><br> Phrase or sentence repeated (example: T h e Wheels on the Bus [Kovalski, 1990]) 2. Repetitive-cumulative pattern in which a w o rd, phrase, or sentence is repeated (exam- ple: Moving Day [Kalan, 1996]) 3. Rhyming Patterns (example: Mrs.<br><br> McNosh Hangs Up Her Wa s h [ Weeks, 1998]) 4. Familiar cultural sequences, cardinal and ord i- nal numbers (example: Feast for Te n [Falwell, 1993]) 5. Familiar cultural sequences, alphabet (exam- ple: A a ron and Gayla 9s Alphabet Book [ G reenfield, 1992]) 6.<br><br> Familiar cultural sequence, days, months, col- ors (example: Chicken Soup with Rice [Sendak, 1962]) 7. P redictable plots (example: If You Give a Pig a P a n c a k e [ N u m e ro ff, 1998]) P redictable books along with shared reading are often recommended as a way to introduce begin- ning learners to the feeling of being a re a d e r ( H o l d a w a y, 1979). Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, many schools used lots of predictable books in their beginning reading pro g r a m s .<br><br> P redictable texts help children very quickly come to think of themselves as readers. For exam- ple, hearing or reading aloud a book such as B ro w n B e a r, Brown Bear (Martin, 1967) in a shared fashion several times allows children to very quickly be able to recite the text. Often the children memorize the text and can repeat the text without even looking at it.<br><br> In this way, children think of themselves as re a d- ers and have fun reading. Decodable Te x t s Decodable texts are ones that contain a high number of words that use the sound-letter re l a t i o n- ships that children are being taught as well as a lim- ited number of high-frequency words (Chard & Osborne, 1999). These texts may also include a limit- ed number of cspecial words d or cstory words. d For example, if students know the letter-sound re l a t i o n- ships for m / m / , s / s / , t / t / , p / p / , e / e / , and a / a / and the high-frequency and special words the, ele- phant, said, no , and thank you , they can read the fol- lowing story: Pat and the Elephant Pat met the elephant.<br><br> The elephant met Pat. Pat sat. The elephant sat.<br><br> The elephant sat on the mats. The elephant sat and sat. Pat sat and sat.<br><br> Pat said, cElephant, pat the pets. d The pets said, cNo, thank you, Elephant. d ( C h a rd & Osborne, 1999) The benefit of this type of text is that it allows students to practice sequential decoding and devel- op fluency and automaticity, critical parts of begin- ning reading instruction (National Reading Panel, 2000). Students are able to experience immediate success since the text is based on the instru c t i o n they have re c e i v e d . The first major use of texts s i m i l a r to this type o c c u r red in the 1960s (Bloomfield & Barnhart, 1961).<br><br> It was re f e r red to as clinguistically controlled text. d As long ago as 1967, Chall (p. 261) raised the issue that some of the control in beginning re a d i n g materials needed to result from a consideration of the phonic elements previously taught. In the exam- ple presented above, b e g i n n i n g readers are given an opportunity to apply their decoding skills in a re a l reading situation.<br><br> One of the major issues related to decodable text is the percentage of decodability (number of word s that students can decode) that should be re q u i red in the text. While there is limited re s e a rch suggesting Too much use of predictable text can cause beginning readers to over rely on the illustrations rather than focus on the print for unlocking a new word . Brown (2000) has developed a strong case for using limited amounts of predictable texts to get children who need oral language development started in the p rocess of reading.<br><br> After students experience suc- cess with some predictable text, she would move c h i l d ren into what she calls transitional and decod- able texts to help students develop the process of sequential decoding. C o n t rolled High-Frequency Vo c a b u l a ry Te x t s H i s t o r i c a l l y, controlled high-frequency vocabu- lary texts were associated with beginning re a d i n g i n s t ruction (Smith, 1965). A c o re of high-fre q u e n c y w o rds is carefully introduced and repeated.<br><br> These w o rds are often selected from sources such as the Dolch list (Dolch, 1936), the Johnson list (Johnson, 1971), and others. The text might read something l i k e : Can I go? I can go.<br><br> Can he go? He can go. Go!<br><br> Go! Using controlled high-frequency vocabulary texts provides children practice in recognizing those w o rds that make up a very high proportion of the w o rds found in beginning reading materials. Just over 100 words account for about half of the ru n- ning words in texts through third grade (Adams, 1990).<br><br> Knowing this important core of words should help children read not only texts being used for reading instruction, but other beginning re a d i n g texts as well. H i g h - f requency words can be carefully intro- duced and practiced in decodable text. There f o re, it is not necessary to have texts that are written exclu- sively to practice high-frequency word s .<br><br> that some decodable texts should be used for begin- ning reading instruction (Juel & Roper/ Schneider, 1985), there is little re s e a rch to guide the decision about the percentage of decodability a text should have. The best rule of thumb we can follow in re a d- ing instruction today is to use decodable text until students become independent in sequential decod- ing. Recently, some re s e a rchers have re c o m m e n d e d that especially for potentially low-level beginning readers, decoding should be systematically taught quickly up through about February (Juel & Minden- Cupp, 2000).<br><br> Decodable texts would be used to apply the skills and strategies being taught in con- textual reading. For some students independence in decoding will occur by the end of grade one and for others it may be at a later grade. At the same time, decodable texts must be used along with other types of texts to help students continue to broaden their oral lan- guage base, develop vocabulary, and develop the use of c o m p rehension strategies and skills .<br><br> Selecting decodable texts carefully is very important. Chard and Osborne (1999) offer four guidelines for this process in a beginning re a d i n g p ro g r a m : 1. Stories that have a significant proportion of decodable word s .<br><br> 2. A sequence of stories, such that the sound- letter relations the children have learned are cumulatively reviewed in the words of the stories. 3.<br><br> Stories that are compre h e n s i b l e . 4. Wo rds in the stories that are in the childre n 9 s spoken vocabularies.<br><br> (p. 11 3 ) Even though decodable texts are most important in the beginning reading program, they may be needed in later grades for students who have not achieved independence in decoding. For example, Mrs.<br><br> Jackson, a fifth-grade teacher, has a group of four students who need limited amounts of decod- able text to apply basic phonic skills and strategies they are still learning. Authentic Litera t u re Authentic literature (often re f e r red to as ctrade book d literature) consists of narrative and exposito- ry texts in the original form as written by the author. No editorial attempts are made to make these texts easier by rewriting them to conform to re a d a b i l i t y guidelines or given vocabulary lists.<br><br> Authentic liter- a t u re comes in the form of books, anthology selec- tions, magazines, newspapers, and others. Authentic literature is motivating for students. It captivates their attention and engages them in learn- ing (Huck, 1989; Sanders, 1987).<br><br> Authentic literature p rovides students with natural language texts that continually help them develop and expand their own language stru c t u res (Sawyer, 1987). Real litera- t u re is generally easy for most students to under- stand (Simons & Ammon, 1989). Sometimes authentic literature is too difficult for beginning readers to read on their own.<br><br> Students often lack the skills to sequentially decode the w o rds in the texts and often do not know many of the high-frequency words included in the text because they have not been taught those words. For this reason, authentic literature needs to be used simultaneously with other types of texts. Getting students to read authentic literature is the goal of the reading/ literacy program.<br><br> In begin- ning reading, it should be used as read alouds to develop and expand students 9 oral language, vocab- u l a r y, background, and prior knowledge. The listen- ing experiences at these levels should serve as the basis for directly and systematically teaching critical c o m p rehension strategies (National Reading Panel, 2000). As soon as students develop some degree of independence in decoding, they should have re p e a t- ed instructional and independent opportunities to read authentic literature that allows them to apply their strategies and skills to real reading.<br><br> This litera- t u re should be carefully selected so that it is appro- priate for the students 9 reading abilities. Beyond the beginning reading levels, authentic l i t e r a t u re should continue to be used for read alouds to expand students 9 vocabularies, to increase their understanding of more complex language stru c- t u res, and to expand their prior knowledge. Authentic literature, both narrative and expository, should continue as the core reading material for stu- dents to help them fully develop the abilities of a skilled re a d e r.<br><br> D i f f e rentiating Instruction in a B e g i n n i n g Reading Classro o m Using Different Types of Te x t s Ms. Wuthrich has a first grade class of 18 stu- dents 410 boys and 8 girls. Four of her students are English language learners who are still speaking p redominantly Spanish.<br><br> Ms. Wuthrich uses a pub- lished reading program that has a variety of texts available for instruction. She also uses other re s o u rces that she has available.<br><br> Here is an example of how she uses diff e rent types of texts simultane- ously on a given day for diff e rent purposes: " Predictable, Big Book 4 Ms. Wuthrich begins the morning by reading aloud a predictable big book to the whole class. Before reading it, she has them discuss the cover and then models how to make predictions.<br><br> As students make their pre d i c- tions, Ms. Wuthrich re c o rds them on a chart. A f t e r reading the book aloud several times, children join in.<br><br> Her English language learners are also able to take part in this experience. Some children have memorized the text while others are still stru g g l i n g to remember some of the words. Memorization is a normal part of learning to read.<br><br> This pre d i c t a b l e book is an authentic piece of literature. Later in the week, Ms. Wuthrich will give some children a little version of the big book for re re a d i n g .<br><br> " Decodable Text 4 As children work at cen- ters, Ms. Wuthrich calls up a small group to re a d using a decodable text from their program antholo- g y. The text for today includes only words students can sequentially decode because they have had i n s t ruction in the phonics skills and high-fre q u e n c y w o rds re q u i red to read the text.<br><br> After intro d u c i n g the text, Ms. Wuthrich has students read it silently to tell what happens. After silent reading, she has students read parts aloud to answer questions or p rove points.<br><br> As children read aloud, Ms. Wu t h r i c h notes which children can sequentially decode word s using the skills they have been taught. She pro v i d e s m o re systematic decoding instruction for childre n who are experiencing difficulty with the decoding p rocess.<br><br> She always follows this instruction with practice and application, having them read addi- tional decodable texts. C reated, Easy-to-Read Te x t s C reated, easy-to-read texts are ones that are written for students beyond the beginning level of reading to apply various skills and strategies in text below their age-appropriate level of diff i c u l t y. These texts provide students who are reading below level the opportunity to practice and apply skills and strategies they are being taught in texts that they can read.<br><br> For students who are pro g ressing normally, these texts provide them a chance to practice and apply a particularly difficult strategy or skill in text below their level and continue to practice re a d i n g and develop fluency. Once they have mastered the use of the strategy, they can return to their age- a p p ropriate level of text to apply the strategy. C reated, easy-to-read texts should not comprise all of a student 9s reading experience.<br><br> These texts, like decodable texts, serve as stepping stones to get students into authentic literature . Common Uses of All Types of Te x t s All of the types of texts discussed can be used in a variety of ways. They can all be leveled or placed in a sequence of difficulty pro g ressing from simple to more complex.<br><br> This can be done using diff e re n t sets of criteria depending on the age and grade level being considered (Cooper & Kiger, 2001). Each type of text can also be used for any type of reading experience 4read aloud, instru c t i o n a l reading, guided reading, or independent re a d i n g . Some types of texts, as discussed, are more appro- priate for some purposes than others, but all texts can be used for a variety of types of reading.<br><br> The important point to keep in mind is that students must have a variety of types of text in their re a d i n g i n s t ruction in order to help them become motivated, successful readers. Let 9s look at how two classro o m s might function using diff e rent types of texts to accomplish diff e rent purposes. " A Wordless Book 4 While children continue center work, Ms.<br><br> Wuthrich calls the English lan- guage learners and two native English speakers to participate in a lesson using a wordless book. First, she shows them the book page by page and has them name as many things as they can. She tells them a simple story using each page as a pro m p t .<br><br> C h i l d ren then retell the story to the group and to each other. Finally, Ms. Wuthrich asks children to give two or three words they used as they told their s t o r y.<br><br> She re c o rds these on a chart for later use. " Authentic Literature 4 Later in the day, Ms. Wuthrich reads aloud a story that is rich with v o c a b u l a r y.<br><br> Her purpose for doing this is to i m p rove students 9 abilities to listen and retell a story and to increase their vocabulary. She follows the read aloud with a group discussion of the story. Notice that on this day, Ms.<br><br> Wuthrich used four d i ff e rent texts simultaneously for diff e rent purposes. On other days, she may use others. Each day changes according to the needs of her students.<br><br> D i f f e rentiating Instruction in the U p p e r G rades Using Different Types of Te x t s M r. Salvo has a fourth grade class of 26 stu- dents 414 girls and 12 boys. Five of his students are English language learners who have transitioned into English.<br><br> He also uses a published reading pro- gram plus other re s o u rces. Here is how Mr. Salvo uses diff e rent types of text simultaneously on the same day for diff e rent purposes: " Authentic Literature 4 Mr.<br><br> Salvo has his e n t i re class read a short story from a literature a n t h o l o g y. The purpose of using this story is to apply the use of the strategy of summarizing which he has been teaching. In order to meet the varying needs of his students, he divides his class into small g roups.<br><br> Some students read the story independently and write a summary using a story map as a p rompt. Another group reads the story under the t e a c h e r 9s direction and completes the story map as a g roup. They complete their summary orally.<br><br> " Created, Easy-to-Read Te x t s 4 There are sev- eral students in Mr. Salvo 9s class who are having d i fficulty with the summarizing strategy. Some are having difficulty because they can 9t read the grade level anthology and others because they have not m a s t e red the strategy.<br><br> The program that Mr. Salvo is using includes a created story that is several grade levels below the class anthology. He uses this text for guided reading with the group and directs them in completing a story map.<br><br> He and the students model how to write a summary using the story map as their guide. " Decodable Te x t 4 Mr. Salvo has three stu- dents who are still having difficulty with decoding.<br><br> He has borrowed some decodable texts from a lower grade teacher to use for skill application for these students. Today he pulls this group to read the text; it provides application of the decoding skills he has been teaching the students. He has the students read the text silently and then read aloud places to p rove points or answer questions.<br><br> He is able to observe which students are able to use their skills for sequential decoding as they read aloud to p rove points. C o n c l u s i o n As you can tell from this discussion, the six types of texts identified can be used to accomplish d i ff e rent purposes to meet diff e rent students 9 needs. As Brown (2000) notes, cBy matching text types with their students 9 reading development, .<br><br> . . teach- ers are better able to support students 9 re a d i n g p ro g ress d (p.<br><br> 305). An effective reading/ literacy pro- gram re q u i res the use of many diff e rent types of texts at all phases of literacy development. The vari- ations in the types of text used are greatest at the beginning reading level.<br><br> However, a variety of types of text are needed across all grades to meet the i n s t ructional needs of all students. All teachers need to be knowledgeable about the d i ff e rent types of texts discussed in this paper and know how to use them to meet the varying needs of students. The old saying that cone size fits all d may work for some products and in some places, but it does not work for reading/ literacy development.<br><br> One text does not fit all students or accomplish all the needed purposes for effective re a d i n g / l i t e r a c y i n s t ruction. Multiple types of texts are needed to accomplish the many diff e rent purposes of an eff e c- tive literacy pro g r a m . " Authentic Literature 4 Mr.<br><br> Salvo has a time to read aloud a chapter from a novel he has been reading to the class. The purpose of this activity is to continue to expand oral language and vocabulary and to promote interest in re a d i n g . M r.<br><br> Salvo used four diff e rent types of texts for d i ff e rent purposes. 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Mrs.<br><br> McNosh Hangs Up Her Wa s h . New York: HarperCollins. A u t h o r J.<br><br> David Cooper J. David Cooper is A d j u n c t P rofessor of Education at Ball State University, where he has been Professor and Director of Reading. Dr.<br><br> Cooper is the author of Literacy: Helping Childre n Construct Meaning and Impro v i n g Reading Compre h e n s i o n , and co- author of The What and How of Reading Instruction and several other professional books. He is co- author of a new book, Literacy Assessment: Helping Teachers Plan Instruction . For the last six years, Dr.<br><br> Cooper has been conducting re s e a rch and develop- ing programs on reading intervention for students in grades 3-8. He has been a reviewer for several p rofessional journals. Dr.<br><br> Cooper is a member of n u m e rous professional organizations, including the International Reading A s s o c i a t i o n . Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company.All rights reserved. http://www.eduplace.com<br><br>