If you are helping a child learn to read, you need to know that the method you are using really works.
Our classroom-tested Reading Program follows the modern interactive model with a balanced approach to teaching reading skills.
This strategy encourages the child to use bottom-up and top-down processes in order to decode and interact with the text meaningfully.
The bottom-up model encourages the student to break down a text into separate components first. For example, recognizing the sounds of the letters in the words, or noticing a specific grammar construct used in a sentence.
The meaning of the text is found by joining the parts together as a whole, so it is not considered an efficient way to first approach a given text. The main focus is on the text, rather than the reader.
Bottom-up strategies were popular in the 1960s and 1970s and focused on decoding the text using phonics skills and identifying grammar rules. The texts used were designed to be decoded and were therefore not considered to be as authentic as other children’s literature.
The top-down process encourages the learner to activate their schemata on the topic of the text first. By doing this, they can predict the content of the text and the meaning of the language before they even begin to read. For example, predicting the genre of the text by just reading the title.
By having expectations in place from the start, the student can interact with the meaning of the text quickly to confirm, reject or revise their ideas. The main focus is on the reader and their former experiences, rather than solely on the text.
The top-down processes were popular in the late 1970s and 1980s and adopted the ‘whole language’ method. It offered a more holistic approach to reading and used authentic materials and literature.
The interactive model is a blended approach to teaching reading, using both bottom-up and top-down processes. It has been popular since the late 1980s and remains the main model used by educators around the world today.
The student is encouraged to use the top-down approach initially to help them interact with the text. For example, from looking at the cover image of a book, they should have some expectations about the genre of the story. They can use their prior knowledge to help them understand the gist of the text without having to understand the meaning of every word.
The bottom-up processes are used to dig deeper into how the text is constructed. For instance, the student could recognize long vowel sound spelling patterns or identify the position of a question word in a sentence.
The interaction between the learner and the text is key, and by using both processes simultaneously the student can comprehend the text at a deeper level. In the blended approach, identification and interpretation are used together to understand the text.
Scarborough's reading rope
In 2001, Dr. Hollis Scarborough described the skills required for reading as ‘strands’ that form a whole rope when joined together.
Using the top-down processes of language comprehension in tandem with the bottom-up processes of word recognition, she demonstrated the specific skills that are needed when learning to read and understand a text.
Her research showed that fluency and accuracy could be achieved through practicing and developing these core reading skills regularly.
Our Reading Program
The Teacher Lindsey Reading Program follows the interactive model with a blended approach to reading. We value both top-down and bottom-up processes and our program subscribes to Scarborough’s Reading Rope principles to help young learners read and interact with the texts.
Our Reading Program offers:
– 50 original stories written for young learners to encourage them to engage with the characters, genres and themes;
– Extension activities to help students relate to the texts using their own experiences;
– Comprehension questions to demonstrate understanding and identify specific grammar rules or semantics;
– Controlled examples of syntax to allow learners to use the language naturally and begin speaking in English with confidence;
– Activities to expand the vocabulary of the students, forging connections to other words and understanding their meaning;
– Tasks that test the inference skills of the student and motivate them to think critically about the text;
– Additional exercises to highlight other language structures such as metaphors and idioms;
– Specific phonemes in the texts that get progressively more difficult to allow the child to decode the texts using their phonological awareness;
– Flashcards to make learning hands-on and to encourage further connections between the vocabulary words presented;
– Spelling booklets in each book bundle to help learners identify spelling patterns and how the base word might change;
– Interactive games designed for children to motivate them to reflect on each text and consolidate their learning;
– Different styles of texts such as poetry and narratives to help students identify text structures;
– Selected Dolch sight words featured in every book to assist students to recognize high-frequency words used in English.
If you have any further questions, please get in touch.