Christian teachers in Lutheran schools provide students a nice balance of good literacy – that being a heavy dose of reading, writing, speaking and language arts instruction. I know this to be factual because I have observed many reading and language arts lessons in the last ten years. And, many of our Lutheran schools throughout the Indiana District utilize 6+1 Writing Traits as their language curriculum, or least a major portion of it to supplement their literacy curriculum.
I have observed teachers carving out instructional time to teach phonemic discourse and phonetic skills as well as teach their students to derive meaning from words using different types of reading strategies. Such instruction is so beneficial to students. And, I have been in classrooms where students were asked to stand in front of their peers, deliver a persuasive or informational speech, while incorporating different media and visuals where appropriate. The fact is that teachers in our Lutheran schools do incredible work in regards to enhancing their students reading, writing, and speaking skills.
Teachers spend a great deal of time reflecting on their lessons and giving time for critical analysis in efforts to modify their instruction some the next time. If we delve a bit deeper into the teaching of reading, teachers’ discourse about reading, and Language Arts instruction as a whole, would certainly include some discussion about word meaning, text structure, conventionality, and vocabulary. If we unpack this some, below are some fundamental points to consider…
Levels of Meaning
Helping students read with fluency and comprehension is an expected outcome of every teacher. To become a fluent reader or comprehend narrative and informational text at a deeper level, students have to be ready to confront the text (Brown-Wessling, 2013). Teachers in our Lutheran schools help students confront text in their daily instruction. They do so by preparing their students to uncover multiple levels of meaning in the text. They do so by scaffolding students’ attempts by assisting them to “read between the lines” to determine the purpose of the read. That purpose may be explicitly stated, or more implied, obscured and hidden. Teachers give their students much practice at deriving meaning from text.
The structure of the text may be a bit more unconventional when related events in text are not in chronological order. Teachers help students derive meaning from unconventional or informational text in different ways. To better help students grasp text structure, teachers give students assistance by constructing timelines, charts, or calendars. Strategies of such help students sequence events and derive meaning. And when teaching content that uses informational text (science, math, social studies), teachers help students differentiate between essential and nonessential data when attempting to understand the text. Both ways help students build meaning from text.
Preparing lessons and introducing students to a variety of text at, above, and below student ability is integral to developing vocabulary. Teachers afford their students good practice at this when they transition away at times from text that asks students to pick out single themes, that pose only an explicitly written purpose, and uses only familiar conventionality to narrative texts that asks students to “read between the lines”, are more subject specific, figurative, and poses multiple perspectives, characters and themes. Christian teachers in our Lutheran schools strive to pick multiple texts at different reading levels for their students.
In regards to text complexity, lexile is important; however, it is not the sole factor to help students build vocabulary and read with fluency. Teachers are using many resources that help students derive meaning from text. Lexile levels are measured by computer software. Many of our Lutheran schools utilize the Accelerated Reader Program and Software. ATOS is the software component that measures lexile levels in Accelerated Reader for teachers. Microsoft Word utilizes Flesch Kincaid to identify lexile complexity. WWW.Lexile.com is another resource.
Regular practice with complex text and regular language is taught by teachers in Lutheran schools because the spelling books already suggest or include these strategies. For instance, the emphasis on word morphology and awareness (Wolter and Green, 2013) is an emphasis in spelling books. Teachers have used derivational word build strategies from their spelling books much like the one below to enhance spelling and vocabulary skills.
|in- (not)||aud (to hear)||-ess (female|
|poly-(many)||struct (to build)||-ish (having the character of)|
|tele-(from afar)||pop (people)||ory- (place for)|
|neo- (new)||part (to carry)||-phobia (fear)|
|bi-two||ambul (to walk)||-er (action)|
|ecto-(outside)||biblio (book)||-ion (having the character of)|
|end-(inside)||bio (life)||-ment (condition or result(|
|ex-(out)||cede (to go)||-ly (in the manner of)|
|Wolter (2013); Wolter and Green (2013)|
In conclusion, teachers pick and choose and implement literacy and language arts strategies that enhance the instruction for their students every day. Christian teachers in Lutheran schools so appropriately can discern what conversations, instructional resources, and textual material are facilitative or dysfunctional for a particular learner and a particular learning environment. And, students in our Lutheran schools receive fabulous literacy and language arts instruction from fabulous Christian teachers.
Lutheran schools are a tremendous blessing to families and their children!