MUSD Reading Philosophy

  • The beliefs and practices underlying the teaching of reading in MUSD are guided by educational research on best practices in literacy.  Reading is the active and cognitive process of making meaning from print.  The goal of reading is to comprehend and apply what is read to real-world experiences.  Our goal is to develop life-long learners who are independent, proficient and passionate readers. 

    Reading instruction is multi-dimensional and must include the five pillars of reading: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency and Comprehension. Effective instruction of these components is systematic and explicit. This is best achieved through a balanced literacy approach that supports the development of students' communication skills through reading, writing, speaking and listening.

    Balanced literacy instruction incorporates a variety of approaches: Modeling strategies through thinking or reading aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading. The acquisition of reading skills is developmental and these approaches enable instruction to be differentiated based on the needs and skill levels of each student. In this way, literacy independence is fostered while using a gradual release of responsibility.

    Reading is a process that includes relevant literacy experiences before, during and after reading. Therefore, opportunities for discussing, reflecting, listening, and questioning in conjunction with reading and writing are fundamental. Experiences with rich vocabulary and language promote reading comprehension.

    Reading and writing are essential for learning. Students learn to read and write and use writing and reading to learn. Effective reading instruction is connected to written and oral language and is integrated into all content areas.

    By including the five pillars in a balanced approach, while providing relevant literacy experiences, we will meet our goal of developing life-long learners who are independent and passionate readers. 

    Learning to Read:

    The purpose for reading any text is to construct meaning of the text's content. We explicitly and systematically teach students skills and strategies to decode and comprehend the text. Reading is an active and cognitive process that uses these skills and strategies in context. As students are reading to construct meaning in whole text, skills and strategies are practiced and assessed.

    The explicit and systematic teaching, practice and assessing of reading skills and strategies may occur in various instructional approaches. These instructional approaches range from a teacher think aloud modeling the process to students reading books independently. Each instructional approach values the collaborative process as teachers and students are reading and learning together. Reading instruction is differentiated depending on the needs and interests of developing readers. 

    Reading to Learn: 

    Reading, writing, listening and speaking (language) are tools used to construct the meaning of content, for example math, social studies, science or literature. These tools develop our thinking and knowledge as we engage with content. As we use these tools for learning, we have opportunities to sharpen and develop them.

    Reading is necessary to learn in every content area. Students in our classrooms represent a wide range of background knowledge, life experiences and reading levels. Teaching students how to read content area text, specifically looking at text organization as well as addressing content rich vocabulary and comprehension strategies, is an essential part of life-long learning. 

    Five Pillars of Reading Instruction:

    • Phonemic Awareness
      • Students must have the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds, phonemes and spoken words. We explicitly teach phonemic awareness skills through exposure to language, songs and rhyme.
    • Phonics
      • Students use phonics as one strategy to decode text. Phonics skills are taught systematically and explicitly and then practiced within text. Students also practice in word work, writing and whole text. 
    • Vocabulary
      • Students bring background knowledge to the text to construct meaning. We explicitly teach vocabulary that impacts the comprehension process. 
    • Fluency
      • Students must read with fluency, which includes accuracy, expression, phrasing and rate. Fluent readers are able to concentrate on the construction of meaning in the text. 
    • Comprehension
      • Students read to construct meaning. We explicitly teach comprehension strategies/skills so our readers are able to construct a variety of meanings from a text. Comprehension strategies are discussed and assessed as readers are constructing meaning from the text. 

    **The pillars of reading instruction should be practiced and assessed within text 

    Balanced literacy Approaches:

    Read Aloud
    Read Alouds are used to model the complexity of the reading process. Students gain implicit knowledge of the syntax or structure of written language and expand their vocabulary while listening to text. Students listen to text that may be at or above their instructional reading levels. Read Alouds have the power to inspire students to love reading because they are focusing on making meaning of the text.

    • Close Reading
    • Fiction and Non-Fiction
    • Think Alouds
    • Model fluency

    Shared Reading
    Shared Reading is used to teach the complexity of the reading process through a supportive and collaborative approach. Students read grade level text with support from their teacher and peers.

    • Focus lesson
    • Think Alouds
    • Close Reading
    • Whole group or small group
    • Introduce and reinforce content area vocabulary
    • Introduce text structures and text features
    • Teacher and students are fully engaged in the process, choral reading, partner reading
    • Literature charts, poetry, content area texts, various genres

    Guided Reading
    Guided Reading is used to support students in small groups at their instructional level. Teachers differentiate their instruction as they coach and support students to use effective strategies for processing increasingly difficult levels of text.

    • Running records and instructional level text
    • Before, during and after vocabulary and comprehension strategies
    • Guide students in using text structures and text features to access text
    • Skill strategies taught within instructional level texts
    • Strategy checks-coaching readers to use previously taught strategies
    • Response to text-questions, discussions, writing 

    Independent Reading
    Independent Reading provides a daily opportunity for students to enjoy reading books while practicing strategies that have been internalized. 

    • Self-selected
    • Independent reading level
    • Life-long readers
    • Reading to learn
    • Reading for pleasure
    • Comfortable areas