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Chapter 5 – The Literacy Program

Chapter Summary

Support is provided to all children so that they are developing in the zone of proximal development. The activities move from teacher controlled to child controlled. 

In a scaffolded approach to literacy there is a place for the teacher to model, share, guide and encourage independence in reading and writing. Although when the teacher reads aloud to children the books may be beyond what they can read themselves, this experience will provide rich vocabulary and syntax patterns that children may later use when speaking and writing. In shared reading with a big book, the children can join in with the teacher. The book might be selected because it is an old favourite and has lots of repetition or it may be a new book. Guided reading sessions take place in small groups, and again careful teacher scaffolding and appropriate texts enable the children to increasingly take control. Independent reading occurs when the child selects books to read independently. 

In modelled writing, the teacher demonstrates how to write while talking aloud. In shared or interactive writing, the teacher shares the pen with children as they write a text together. In guided writing, there is careful scaffolding of the text so the children write with support. In independent writing, the children write their own texts. 

The teacher also uses word work, including phonological awareness, phonics and vocabulary. Word work is used for both reading and writing. Language experience involves the children writing and reading what they have written. Language experience links both reading and writing.

Study Questions

Main ideas

What is the definition of the gradual release of responsibility? 
How does the gradual release of responsibility work in the literacy program? Explain each part of the literacy program and how much support is provided by the teacher.
What are the four roles of a reader? What does each role mean for teaching?

Application to a developmental stage

How could you use the language experience approach with a beginning reader and writer?

Diverse learners

Think of a beginning reader you have met in a school. How would you plan a guided reading lesson for a reader who is just learning about print? What steps would you take?


The zone of proximal development is useful in planning the literacy program. How could you use this concept for teaching children to write?

Teaching plans

What is modelled and interactive writing? How could you use modelled and interactive writing with a group of beginning writers?