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Copy of Timeline: History of American Reading Instruction

This timeline shows major events, individuals, and texts in American reading instruction from the 1700s to the present.
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Sandy Kral

on 2 January 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Timeline: History of American Reading Instruction

By Paul Ricks History of American Reading Instruction Early 1600s The Hornbook
Used during the settlement of Jamestown
The thought process of the era was that reading should center around religious text, specifically the Bible
The Hornbook contained the alphabet and short excerpts of scripture 1690-1790 New England Primer America's first school book
3 million copies printed
Instruction centered around moralistic teachings and spelling
Much instructional time was dedicated to spell downs (spelling bees) and memorization of scripture Quick Fact: Alphabet concepts were often taught by way of moralistic rhymes 1836-1960 McGuffey Readers
First set of readers created with leveled text that increased in difficulty
Though not by any means the only text books of the era, they were widely recognized as the ideal instructional materials for beginning literacy
Stories still remained moralistic in their content, however, phonics instruction and repetition were used to emphasize vocabulary and comprehension Quick Fact: McGuffey Readers may have been the text of choice as they contained "cutting edge" techniques for reading instruction, but much of McGuffey's instructional material was actually plagiarized from other authors that were eventually bought out. Quick Fact: The Hornbook, though intended as an instrument to teach religious text, was also used as an instrument of academic motivation. 1910-1925 The Beginnings of Scientific Research in Literacy 1935-1960 Fine Tuning of Literacy Models
Look-say approach is widespread
Phonics instruction taught over many years of a child's education
Increasing number of "skills" that good readers acquire
Students seen as "receivers" and teachers as "givers" of information
Teachers' manuals filled with instructional hints designed to make instruction more systematic and uniform Dick and Jane, the ubiquitous couple, make William S. Gray a name to be reckoned with in the field of children's literacy. These page turners are used in 90% of all U.S. classrooms. 1950-1967 Viva la Revolucion
Social order is questioned as the insanity of McCarthyism reaches a climax
Scientific advances reached outside of the U.S. (Russian space program) propel researchers into finding ways to return to societal and academic prominence
Long-held educational practices and beliefs are questioned for the first time in a long time Children's Literacy and the 60s
Jean Chall

Wanted children's curriculum to be more challenging
Fought for new standardized tests
Wanted reading research legitimized
Felt that basal readers were the devil incarnate Noam Chomsky Highly influential as a pioneer in the theories that later became the Whole Language movement
Supported and proposed the idea that children come to the world prepared to learn language
He based his theories on 2 major ideas
Children acquire language easily
Language is inherently complex Charles Fries Pioneer in considering reading as a viable option for linguistic research
Proposed simplicity in instruction, especially as it applied to pronunciations of phonemes, and advocated the role of oral language as the ultimate teacher of reading Ken Goodman Published "Reading: A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game"
Proposed that students understand text based on three cue systems--semantic, syntactic, and graphophonemic
His work was highly influenced by the linguistic findings of Noam Chomsky The 1970s Psychologists like Piaget proposed that we learn as we gather experiences, weigh new experiences against our old ones, and strive to find an equilibrium. This idea of Schema Theory, or applying our experiences to our understanding of text, appealed to psychologists, researchers, and practitioners. Sociolinguistics Closely tied to the ideas of schema theory, sociolinguists proposed that discourse pattern and dialectal variation ought not to be considered problematic in the acquisition of reading proficiency. Duly noted, most sociolinguists would argue that the American education system ignored most of their findings and typically reprimanded the use of dialect in the academic setting. 1980s Jean Piaget Literature-Based Reading Nancie Atwell's "In the Middle: Writing, Reading, and Learning with Adolescents" plays a major role in changing literacy programs from basal-based to literature-based. Her insightful findings convince teachers across the country that "real" literature teaches all of the requisite skills as well as a love for reading. Following in the steps of the sociolinguists, process writing comes into the mainstream. Authors like Lucy Calkins and Donald Graves give detailed practitioner guides in an effort to help teachers integrate writing into literacy. Children are encouraged to write like real writers and construct stories with an audience in mind, a process to guide, and a story to tell. Lucy Calkins Donald Graves The 1990s Whole Language Movement



A grassroots movement that started in the 1980s gained prominence in the new decade. A conglomerate of the major movements starting in the 1960s, Whole Language integrated the Language Arts. The teacher-student relationship was seen as a symbiotic process.

The movement was a shooting star, however, as it faded within the decade. Teachers and administrators interpreted the movement in a variety of ways, the most criticized of which dealing with sporadic phonics instruction. Tensions politicized; Whole Language died. So, now what? W Well, that's a good question. The last two decades have made literacy somewhat of an institution as well as a field of study. The National Reading Panel has been created, a number of laws have been passed regulating instruction, and basal readers are supported by many powerful organizations.

That said, literacy is slowly evolving into an improved idea and entity. Technology is helping create new forums for both reading and writing, students have more access to literature than ever before, and we live in the most literate society that there has ever been.

I remain optimistic that we will build on the ideas from the past, throw out the fads that prove fruitless in the present and near future, and continue to allow for literacy instruction to follow its naturally progressing course. As basic literacy materials became more accessible (i.e. books, paper, pencils) the field of literacy dressed in a more scientific garb. Standardized tests were introduced, silent reading was deemed important, and writing became a major focus in the classroom setting. References Pearson, David P. (2002). American Reading
Instruction Since 1967.

Ruddell, Robert B., Ruddell, Martha Rapp (1995). A Brief Historical Perspective on Literacy Instruction in the United States.

Morrison, Timothy G. (2012). American Reading and Writing Instruction.

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