Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What is reading?

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“Reading is a message gaining, problem solving activity which increases in power and flexibility the more it is practiced” Marie Clay

“Reading is indeed a meaning-construction process that enables us to create carefully reasoned as well as imaginary worlds filled with new concepts, creatures, and characters” (Ruddell & Unrau). There are many different theorists, examiners of reading, and reading programmes in today’s world. Each theorist has his or her own preferred methods, programmes, and individual beliefs. Marie Clay is one of these people. Clay strongly believes that “Reading is a message gaining, problem solving activity which increases in power and flexibility the more it is practiced” (Clay). Throughout this essay I will be discussing my understanding of Clay’s statement, and supporting this view with reference to other educationalists, researchers, and writers; including Vygotsky and Biddulph. In addition, I will be critically analysing the guided reading programme, and the impact it has on both teachers, and the students.

Clay believes that “reading is a message gaining, problem solving activity” (Clay). If this statement was posed to me before I came to teachers college I may have tended to disagree with this, mainly due to the fact that I most definitely would not have understood it. I was by no means aware of the major influence reading has on our children’s development, and never thought that the skill of reading would be used so many times in a child’s school day. This therfore shows us how important the process of reading is and how we must use this with our children in everday situations. This can be as simple as taking your child to the supermarket.

When children first reach primary school age their vocabulary is limited, and most children can only read some amounts of text. Children then begin to develop a good decoding system, and as they work with text, “children build up a network of strategies that allow them to attend to information from different sources” (Fountas & Pinnell). However, primary school age is definitely not where the reading, and reading skills stop developing. We have “usually acquired the basics of reading by that age, but still have much more to learn and many more skills to acquire before we become confident readers” (Smith & Elley)

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