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Development of Academic Skills

Whole Language Approach

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Emphasizes 2 main ideas (Hall & Moats, 1999):
 - The purpose of reading is to extract meaning from text
 - The skills needed for reading will be acquired from the experience of reading and do not need to be explicitly taught

-  It emphasizes the idea that reading is performed as a whole,

without separation or division of text: including words, sentences, or

sounds. The whole word is the focus, not the individual sounds or

segments of a word.


-  Advocates for this approach believe that reading development is a

naturally occurring process, in which children acquire reading abilities

as they are exposed to them. The process in which children learn to

read is paralleled to that in which children learn to speak: which is by

being surrounded by speech. Advocates propose that children acquire

the ability to read by being surrounded by and exposed to reading.

Children independently discover the rules of reading as they are more

exposed to them and learn about reading by using their application of

current knowledge to figure out new word forms.


Strategies used:


 - Visual based retrieval – context and picture cues

 - Skip and go on: read entire sentence to get the gist and then guess what the word might be based on context

 - Learn through repetition and memorization of words



A Whole Language First-Grade Classroom


         When you walk through the door of the classroom the first thing that catches your eye is the arrangement of the room. There are learning centers with round tables throughout this room. The children's desks are arranged in clusters of four; when all the children are seated at their desks, about half of them would have their backs to the blackboard. There is a rocking chair in one corner, placed on a large, soft rug. Behind the rocking chair is a bookcase filled with books. Each learning center table contains books and objects for the children to explore on a different topic. There are paperback copies of children's literature books and easy nonfiction books everywhere in this classroom; the variety of books is notable, as is the absence of multiple copies of any reading anthology. There are name labels taped to identify objects throughout the room. 

         When we enter the room the children are seated at the round learning-center tables engaging in separate activities. After a few minutes Miss V, a young teacher who has been at the school for three years, announces that she wants the children to gather on the rug for a story. She places a three-foot-by-two-foot copy of the popular children's story, Clifford Takes a Walk, on an easel beside the rocking chair. Once the children are seated and quiet, she opens the big book and asks if everyone can see it. She begins reading the story while pointing to each word as she goes. After Miss V reads the entire story through, she takes a second large book and asks for a volunteer to read this story. A little girl volunteers and begins reading as Miss V points to each word. On the third page the girl hesitates as she doesn't know the word pigeon. Miss V points to the picture and asks if there are any clues on the page as to what this word might be. The girl, seeing the picture of the pigeon, guesses the word. Miss V says "good" and the reading proceeds.

         Following the group reading of the big books, the children assemble in their reading groups at the round tables. Each group is reading a different book. Children take turns reading aloud. Miss V divides her time among the four groups, listening to the reading as she circulates (Hall & Moats, 1999).

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