Reading Instruction, Grades K-3
The K-3 reading content in this spotlight is based on the recommendations of the National Reading Panel (NRP), The Partnership for Reading (PFR), the International Reading Association (IRA), the U.S. Department of Education's Reading First Program, and the Northeast and Islands Regional Technology in Education Consortium (NEIRTEC).
This section presents seven practices for reading
instruction in grades K-3 and includes recommendations on how technology
can support the implementation of each practice. From kindergarten
through grade 3, learning to read is a particularly intense endeavor for
the teacher and learner. Students are "cracking the code" and building
the foundation for literacy during this critical time period. To support
this process, effective teachers carefully integrate reading into daily
classroom activities that capitalize on how reading, writing, speaking,
and listening support one another. As you read these
practices, consider how you can serve as a model for your students,
allowing them to emulate your behaviors until they attain mastery of
- Teachers combine multiple research-based methods and strategies into a coherent plan for reading instruction that meets the diverse learning needs of their students.
What is it?
- Teachers develop students' phonics skills through systematic instruction on sound-symbol relationships, spending appropriate time to meet individual needs.
What is it?
As the National Reading Report (April, 2000) states, "Learning to
read is a complex task for beginners" (Teaching Children to Read: Reports of the
Subgroups. Chapter 2, p. 99).
Yet, this clearly poses an even greater challenge for English
language learners (ELLs), who must learn to perform these complex
cognitive processes in a new language. ELLs who have not learned to read
in their primary or home language face the enormous challenge of
acquiring the initial concepts and skills of literacy in English, a
language they have not fully mastered. Others who have already developed
literacy and academic skills in their home languages must apply their
literacy knowledge to the task of reading English, with its distinct
sound system, spelling patterns, vocabulary, and sentence patterns. In
addition, ELLs often have to make meaning from texts which require cultural
knowledge different from their own. Finally, many ELLS find reading difficult because they have not previously experienced consistent schooling or appropriate instruction in either
Each of the five components of effective reading identified by the
National Reading Panel (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency,
vocabulary, and text comprehension) presents its own set of difficulties
for ELLs to overcome with help from their teachers.
Teachers of all students will find useful insights and strategies in the sections Implications for ELLs and Strategies for Supporting ELLs below each practice under [What Is It?].
Because educators are increasingly concerned with the U.S.
Department of Education's call for research-based teaching practice,
this section draws heavily on the recommendations of both researchers
and policymakers. It provides information from the federally sponsored
National Reading Panel (NRP) and the
federal Reading First legislation that may be of use for both instructional planning and
grant writing. It also includes recommendations from the Partnership for
Reading (PFR), the International Reading
Association (IRA), and the Northeast and
Islands Regional Technology in Education Consortium (NEIRTEC).
Highlights from the National Reading Panel:
"Learning to read is a complex task for beginners. They must coordinate many cognitive processes to read accurately and fluently. Readers must be able to apply their alphabetic knowledge to decode unfamiliar words and to remember how to read words they have read before. When reading connected text, they must construct sentence meanings and retain them in memory as they move on to new sentences. At the same time, they must monitor their word recognition to make sure that the words activated in their minds fit the meaning of the context. In addition, they must link new information to what they have already read, as well as to their background knowledge, and use this to anticipate forthcoming information. When one stops to take stock of all the processes that readers perform when they read and comprehend text, one is reminded how amazing the act of reading is and how much there is for beginners to learn."
(Teaching Children to Read: Reports of the Subgroups. April 2000, Chapter 2, p. 99)
The fundamental findings of the National Reading Panel affirm that children who become good readers usually develop all of the following components of effective reading:
- phonemic awareness: an understanding of the sounds that make up spoken language
- phonics skills: an understanding of the sounds that letters and letter combinations make
- ability to read fluently and accurately
- ability to comprehend what is read
The National Reading Panel also offers recommendations for reading instruction, which appear on The Partnership for Reading Web site and serve as the basis for the reading practices in this section of the spotlight. However, it is important to note that because the NRP considered only experimental or quasi-experimental research in reaching its conclusions about effective reading instruction, its recommendations do not include many promising practices that are now used effectively in classrooms. (For more information on the screening criteria for research included in the NRP report, consult the Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read: Reports of the Subgroups, Section 1, pp. 5-7 and the "Minority View" at the end of the report, pp. 1-3.)
As you read the material in Reading Instruction, Grades K-3, consider how you can link the findings of the National Reading Panel to other promising practices and to your own reading instruction practices.
The National Reading Panel (NRP) convened in 1997 at the request of Congress to assess the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach children to read. Organized by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in consultation with the Secretary of Education, the NRP reviewed research-based knowledge on reading instruction and held open panel meetings across the United States. On April 13, 2000, the NRP concluded its work and submitted "The Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read." (See:
Reading First, established in 2002 by the No Child Left Behind legislation, is a focused nationwide effort to enable all students to become successful early readers. It dedicates funds to help states and local school districts eliminate the reading deficit by establishing high-quality, comprehensive reading instruction in kindergarten through grade 3. (See:
Through The Partnership for Reading Web site, The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the U.S. Department of Education disseminate research and information related to NCLB. (See:
The International Reading Association (IRA) is a professional membership organization whose mission is to promote high levels of literacy for all by improving the quality of reading instruction, disseminating research and information about reading, and encouraging the lifetime reading habit. (See:
The Northeast and Islands Regional Technology in Education Consortium (NEIRTEC)--a collaboration of Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), TERC, Learning Innovations at WestEd, and The Education Alliance at Brown University--is one of the ten regional technology in education consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education. NEIRTEC serves the six New England States, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. NEIRTEC focuses on helping educational leaders at the state, district, and school levels address the many challenges involved in putting technology to effective use, with a particular emphasis on the needs of schools in underserved urban and rural communities.(See: