Understanding Literacy Development & Phonics

Dr. Oswald
Office: Room 32, Zook Hall
Phone: 330 972 5483
E mail: roswaldL@uakron.edu

Prerequisite: Admission to Teacher Education Program. This is the first in a series of four courses designed to prepare pre-service teachers to teach reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in an integrated manner. The foundations of literacy will be strongly emphasized, as will the role of comprehension, phonics, and functional spelling in language learning. Ten service learning hours are required outside of class. The use of technology in the literacy classroom will be integrated throughout the course. (IRA 5.7, 12.4)

Pre-service early childhood and middle school teachers need a strong foundation in the understanding of language literacy, an area that provides the basis for children’s learning in virtually all academic subjects. This course provides pre service teachers with the information based upon the latest research in literacy development. Moreover, students will gain understanding of the integrated approach to the teaching of these areas. The knowledge of the skills involved in all types of communication involving diverse communities of learners will provide a foundation for students to make appropriate decisions about instruction based on principles of learning. (IRA 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 12.2)

The student will:

  • understand the integrative nature of reading, writing, speaking and listening. (INTASC #7, IRA 2.5, 2.6)
  • understand the research based theoretical framework for our present understanding of language literacy. (INTASC #7)
  • comprehend the nature of literacy development in diverse populations of children. (INTASC #3, IRA 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 12.2)
  • understand the role of phonemic awareness and phonics in learning to read and practice strategies to enhance instruction. (INTASC #7)
  • understand and use the vocabulary of language literacy. (INTASC #7)
  • identify and select those instructional strategies designed to facilitate literacy learning at various age levels. (INTASC #7)
  • distinguish between and apply appropriate strategies for learners from diverse cultures. (INTASC #3 IRA 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 12.2)
  • identify and align instructional activities with the State Language Arts Standards (INTASC 97)


I. Understanding Reading

A. The Reading Process (IRA 1. 1)
Psycholinguistics and reading, Socio psycholinguistics and reading, how research in other fields has influenced literacy, major theorists (IRA 1.3, 2.4, 2.10, 2.11, 14.1)

B. Cueing Systems

C. Major Approaches to Reading Instruction
Establishing your belief system, components of and achieving a balanced literacy program (IRA 5.4), Integrating the language arts (IRA 2.5, 2.6), Using technology as a base for instruction (IRA 5.7, 12.4)

II. The Beginnings of Literacy (IRA 2.7)

A. The role of the family (IRA 5.8, 11.3)

B. How reading and writing develop (IRA 1.6, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3) Phases of development, language and literacy acquisition (IRA 2.2), developmentally appropriate practices, designing literate environment (IRA 1.7, 5.1), exploring print through language experiences.

C. Emergent Literacy Programs for beginners

D. Materials (such as big books and software (IRA 5.7, 12.4), relationships between speech and print, learning about features of written language,
observing and documenting children’s emerging literacy accomplishments (IRA 10. 1, 10.2).

III. Phonics (IRA 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5)

A. Major Approaches to Phonics Instruction – Consonant based strategies, analogy based strategies, spelling based strategies (IRA 3.3, 6.4, 6.5)

B. Other word identification strategies

C. Context clues (IRA 7.5), chunking, high frequency words, configuration clues

IV. Teaching Children to Read & Write

A. Comprehension (IRA 7.1, 7.3, 7.4)

Scaffolding (IRA 7.3), story structure, guiding interactions (IRA 1.5, 7.4)

B. Vocabulary (IRA 6.6)

Principles to guide instruction, strategies for vocabulary instruction (IRA 6.6)

C. Reading/Writing Connection (IRA 2.1)

The relationship between reading/writing, using journals (and e mail) to communicate and explore text, writing workshop and the writing process (IRA 7.6, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3), reading, writing technology connections (IRA 12.4)

D. Fluency (IRA 8.2)

V. Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners (IRA 1.2, 1.7, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 12.2)

A. The complexity of diversity in literacy classrooms

B. Linguistic diversity

Dialect and reading strategies, ESL

C. Cultural diversity – Different cultures have different rules

D. Academic and cognitive diversity – Struggling readers (IRA 4.3, 4.4), gifted readers

VI. Pulling It All Together

A. Instructional Materials (IRA 5.2)

Physical environment (IRA 2.9, 5. 1), the technology classroom (IRA 5.7)

B. Planning/Management of a Balanced Literacy Program

Aligning goals and instruction (IRA 2.14), individualizing instruction (IRA 12.2, 3.1, 3.4, 12.2), collaborative learning


Week 1:
1/13 Course Introduction
1/15 Service Learning Orientation

Week 2:
1/20 No Class Martin Luther King Day
1/22 What is Reading??
Understanding the Reading Process, Cueing Systems, Psycholinguistics
Discuss Standards Project

Week 3:
1/27 No Class / Work on Standards Project
1/29 Balanced Instruction
A look at some balanced literacy programs

Week 4:
2/3 The Beginnings of Literacy
2/5 Discussion of info from web

Week 5:
2/10 Inviting Beginners into the Literacy Club
2/12 Alphabetic Principle, Phonemic Awareness, Emergent Literacy vs. Reading Readiness

Week 6:
2/17 Finish Early Literacy

Week 7:
2/24 Phonics
2/26 Phonics

Week 8:
3/3 Managing & Organizing an Effective Classroom

Week 9:
3/10 No Class: Work on Standards Project and Research Paper
3/12 Integrating Children’s Literature (Standards Project is due)

Week 10:
3/17 Reading Fluency
3/19 Chapter 7

March 24/26 Spring Break No Class

Week 11:
3/31 Comprehension & Metacognition
4/2 Guided Reading

Week 12:
4/7 Vocabulary
4/9 Reading/Writing Connection

Week 13:
4/14 Reading/Writing Connection (Teacher Interview is due) Chapter 10, 4/16 Assessing Reading Performance

Week 14:
4/21 Instruction Materials
4/23 Content Area Texts

Week 15:
4/28 (Research Paper & Service Learning assignment are due) Share Papers
4/30 Diverse Learners

Week 16: May 5 9 Finals Week Final Exam

Vacca, J., Vacca, R. & Gove, M. Reading and Learning to Read (Ed.). New York: Harper Collins.

(This text is compatible with IRA Standards, listing them as marginal notes as they appear in the text and includes an appendix that references and provides the location of all IRA standards covered.)

Cunningham, P. Phonics They Use: Words for reading and writing. (3d ed.). New York: Harper Collins.

According to Carnegie unit standards, university students are expected to study two hours outside of class for every hour they are in class. You can expect to spend 112.5 hours (37.5 in class, 75 outside of class) completing the requirements for this course. Of those hours, ten will be spent on service learning.

Participation 20 pts.
All participants in this class have something of value to contribute to the education of others. Our wisdom is enhanced by the presence and voice of each and every member of the community. Therefore, attendance is important. Participation requires you to not only attend class, but to participate in activities and contribute to discussions. In addition, late assignments will be deducted one letter grade.

You are responsible for any material covered in a missed class. Four points will be deducted from the final grade for each absence after two. Please find a classmate to take notes and collect handouts.

School Observation with Teacher Interview & Summary 20 pts.
To connect theory to practice, you will interview a teacher. Use the following questions as a guideline, choosing the ones appropriate for the age level you will teach:

What is your belief regarding reading instruction? What’s your approach? (1&2) How have you evolved over the years as a teacher of reading? How do you:

  • teach the alphabet to young children? (Chapters 3 & 4)
  • encourage literacy development of beginning readers? (Chapter 4)
  • communicate the importance of the parental role in learning to read? (Chapter 3)
  • provide opportunities to integrate the use of literacy through reading, writing, listening and speaking into your program?
  • teach children how to use the writing process? Do you have writer’s workshop? (Chapter 10)
  • connect reading and writing in your classroom? (writing to learn) (Chapter 1)
  • teach spelling? What is your program? (Chapter 3)
  • teach phonics? What are your beliefs about phonics? (Chapter 6)
  • teach word identification? (Chapter 6)
  • teach children to comprehend text (not just check comprehension)? (Chapter 8)
  • teach vocabulary (not just check vocabulary)? (Chapter 9)
  • encourage children to love to read? (Chapter 11)
  • meet the needs of diverse learners (academic, cultural & linguistic diversity)? (Chapter 14)
  • What materials do you use to teach reading (A basal? Trade Books? Journals? Computer?
  • Do you have any helpful hints for me regarding Reading & Writing instruction?

Upon completion of the interview you will need to do the following to demonstrate your connections:

1. Turn in a written report of the interview that begins with the teacher’s background, number of years of teaching experience, grade level, location and a description of the setting (district/classroom): Go through our texts, handouts, and class notes. What does it say and how does it connect to this Interview;

2. Make connections between theory (the course, books, etc.) and practice (how does that actually look for this teacher?). Provide an informed response that demonstrates your understanding and insights. Use citations.

Research Paper (Due on April 28) 40 pts.
You will research a literacy topic and write at least a 5 10 page paper citing a minimum of 4 sources (only 2 of these sources can be internet sites and those must end with: org or.edu. This paper should be typed and in APA style. Extra points will be given for visiting the writing center. Be prepared to share your findings in class as your topic emerges.

Research Ideas: 4 Blocks, Balanced Literacy, Reading Recovery, Phonemic Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, Environment, Phonics, Reading Aloud, Spelling, Family Literacy, ESL, Basal Readers, Struggling Readers, Emergent Literacy, Fluency, Reluctant Readers, Motivation, Comprehension, or any other topic approved by the instructor that is within your area of licensure (Pre K 3, Middle School, Special Ed, etc.).

Service Learning Component (Must be completed by Week 14/Assignment is due on April 28) 20 pts.
Service learning is a teaching/learning method that connects meaningful community service experiences with academic learning. The service learning requirement is an important opportunity for your personal, social and intellectual growth. It will also enhance citizenship skills you will need as an educator in a multicultural democracy. In this class you will be assigned to volunteer in a classroom for 10 hours. After each visit, write a reflection, noting things you observed (ex. Developmental behaviors) books you shared, approaches to literacy instruction or conversations you had with the teacher and children. Keep these reflections in a journal and turn it in to the instructor upon completion of your service learning experience. After the instructor evaluates the journal, it will be included in your portfolio. You cannot pass this class until the service learning requirement has been successfully completed.

English Language Arts Standards Project (Due on March 12) 20 pts.
To complete this project you need to visit The Ohio Department of Education web site. Go to www.ode.state.oh.us/ Under “Academic Content Standards”, click on “English/Language Arts”. Print a copy of the standards, benchmarks and indicators by grade level appropriate to the grade level you will be licensed to teach.
Choose 5 Standards with appropriate benchmarks and indicators and match them to activities in the textbook, specifying page numbers. Next, design a standards based lesson plan that provides age appropriate literacy experiences for children. A lesson plan template will be provided for you.

Quiz #1 (Foundations & Literacy Development) Week 6 20 pts.

This first quiz will be over the processes of literacy, major approaches to instruction, literacy development from birth, the importance of the home environment, and role of the parent in early literacy learning.

Quiz #2 (Alphabetic Principle, Phonemic Awareness & Phonics) Week 8 20 pts.

This quiz will assess students’ understanding of the relationships between speech and print, the features of written language and the instructional strategies for teaching it in the classroom.

Final Exam 40 pts.
This final exam focuses on fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, reading writing connections and how to meet the needs of diverse learners

GRADING SCALE (200 pts. possible):

A 200-186 points
A 185-181 points
B+ 180-178 points
B 177-167 points
B- 166-164 points
C+ 163-161 points
C 160-150 points
C- 149-147 points
D+ 146-144 points
D 143-133 points
D 132-130 points
F 129 points and under