History of Literacy Instruction in America

  • Jan 1, 1493


    Published in the year 1493, hornbooks were brought to the Colonies from England. These were single sheets of papar containing the alphabet in both lower and upper case letters. In addition, it contained a short section of syllables, the invocation, and the Lord's Prayer. Therefore these were mainly religious based. These hornbooks were made of wood, iron, pewter, ivoery, or silver. They were covered with a sheet of translucent horn. These were integral to the alphabet method of teaching.
  • Jan 1, 1580


    This was sold alongside the traditional hornbook. These were made of cardboard and folded into three. These were a drastic shift toward more secular movements. The illustrations were more closely compared to those of the primer.
  • Primers

    The primer was the major tool for primary education in the Colonies. Originally this was a book of prayers becausee it was thought to contain the basic essentials for spiritual guidance. The primer was different than the hornbook and battledore because some were more than 70 pages and contained comprehensive text.
  • American Spelling Book

    American Spelling Book
    The first speller written and published on the American press created by Noah Webster. He was a future lexicographer, but his studies at Yale had been halted by the American Revolution. It was a best selling introductory reading textbook in the United States up until the 1820s.
  • Spellers

    Initially the objective of the speller, as they were known, was not only spelling but reading, religion, and morality. Spellers were comprehensive texts that were larger in size when compared to primers. The book format alternated between lists of words and sentences/reading selections.
  • Worcester's Primer of the English Language

    Worcester's Primer of the English Language
    This was the first text to demonstrate influence from the Pestalozzian ideas that children learn from whole to part and not part to whole. Unlike earlier texts, these texts included instructions for the teacher. At this time, pre-reading activities were introduced and suggested that teachers should teach words as a whole before analyzing words.
  • McGuffey Reader

    McGuffey Reader
    The McGuffey Reader was a published set of lessons. They focused on phonics, syllables, alphabet, and sight words. The stories were more complex and some included comprehension questions. These were meant to be focused on morals.
  • Horace Mann

    Horace Mann
    Horace Mann was known as the "father of American education." He set up the first teacher education programs. He believe in education for all and in 1852 education for all was established in Massachusetts. It wasn't until 1918 that all states adopted Compulsory Education.
  • Phonics Method

    Phonics Method
    Both before and after the Civil War, phonic readers emerged. They replaced pronouncing the name of the letter but rather asked students to pronounce the letter sound. This resulted in teh abandonment of syllabary. However, the syllable as a unit of instruction remained. The basis of this approach was a result of the thought that children could decode the majority of words if they were taught the sounds that represetnted the letters as well as the blending of these sounds.
  • Progressive Education

    Progressive Education
    In association with the Word method, progressive education believed that play was the child's work. It was the belief of men such as Colonel Francis Parker and John Dewey that learning should come from a child's interests. Ideally childen should be learning from reading what they had dictated or written themselves. Therefore, a basal reading series would not be utilized.
  • Word Method

    Word Method
    During this time, instruction was focused on sight words and whole words.
  • Word Method II

    Word Method II
    The Word Method gained new popularity in the 1880s. This radical shift in reading instruction focused on starting with familiar objects and taught words as signs of these objects.
  • Story Method

    Story Method
    At this point in literacy instruction, many educators became concerned with emphasizing understanding in beginning reading instruction. In the story method, teachers started instruction by telling the story. Often the story was memorized by children even before they saw the printed text. The reading was committed to memory through action activities.
  • Sentence Method - Farnham

    Sentence Method - Farnham
    In the sentence method, the teacher shared the story one sentence at a time paired with questions and illustrations. Children read the text as it was presented to them. Therefore, it was said that the children were "discovering" their way through the text being read.
  • Edmund Burke Huey

    Edmund Burke Huey
    After the publication of "The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading," Huey shifted reading pedagogy from the basal readers of the 1870s and 1880s. He was an advocate of moving from whole to part, which implies sentences to words. Reading in the schools had switched from learning and reading about religion to examining a scientific perspective and commerce.
  • Thorndike

    Thorndike's study of animal behavior during World War iand the learning process led to the theory of connectionism. thorndike believed that instruction should pursue socially useful goals. As a result of his studies and others like it, Binets IQ test, Gray's Oral Reading Test and reading comprehension tests were created.
  • Classical Conditioning

    Classical Conditioning
    The theroy of Classical Conditioning was explored by individuals such as Pavlov and Watson. These theorists believed that creating a positive, success-oriented reading experiences for students would help them to overcome negative associations with reading.
  • Professional Publications

    Professional Publications
    In the 1930s, a new feature of literacy was the publication of books that were specifically addressed to teachers of reading. Reading began to define itself as a separate professional field. Publications included such works as those about remediation of children with reading difficulties, reading remdiation, and helping guide students through the reading process.
  • Schema Theory

    Schema Theory
    Frederic Bartlett is acredited with the creation of the term "schema" as we know it today in education. Based on the Constructivist Theory, Bartlett stated that individuals organize their knowledge into schemas. These schemas are different for each individual and can be created and restructured accroding to experiences and learning.
  • John Dewey's Inquiry Learning Theory

    John Dewey's Inquiry Learning Theory
    John Dewey was one of the first American constructivists. Dewey's ideas about learning were based on the Unfoldment Theory, which stated that learning would unfold based on interest and curiosity. He advocated for activity based curriculums which would be centered around problems and collaboration between students.
  • Maturation Theory

    Maturation Theory
    This was a dominant theory from the 1930's to the 1950's. Morphett and Washburn decided taht maturation was the most important factor in learning to read. The concluded that waiting until children reach a certain age of development milestone before implementing reading instruction was essential and if not done, it could cause damage to their reading abilities. Behaviorists later challenged this theory and won.
  • Basal Readers

    Basal Readers
    Although these date back to McGuffey's work in the 1860s, the term "basal" was not used to describe a reading program until much later. The idea of the "look-saw" method helped to popularize basal books such as SCott Foresman's "Sally, Dick, and Jane" readers.
  • Sub-Strata Theory of Reading

    Sub-Strata Theory of Reading
    John A. Holmes useda pplicatoin to identify reading ability of individuals in his research. He deduced that specific factors could be used to determine an individual's ability to read. The factors include: cognitive ability, verbal ability, fine motor skills, eye movement, and personality factors. Tests of these factors have been developed and to this day are often still used for IEP meetings about students of concern.
  • Bloom's Taxonomy

    Bloom's Taxonomy
    In 1948, Bloom was part of a group of educators who took on the task of classifying educational goals and objectives forthe American Phsychology Association. The intent was to develop a classification for behaviors in thinking which were important to the process of learning. This later gave birth to various manners in which literacy educators examined their practices as well as the thinking required of students in conjunction with literature and learning.
  • Zone of Proximal Development

    Zone of Proximal Development
    Vygotsky's work in social constructivism was not widely read until the 1970's. However, his work has greatly influenced education and literacy instruction. Vygotsky believed children learn from social interaction. The development of reading depends on various sign systems. He developed the term "Zone of Proximal Development" to describe that students must experience higher mental funtional before these functions can be internalized and used independently.
  • Emergent Literacy Theory

    Emergent Literacy Theory
    Marie Clay coined the term "emergent literacy" in 1966. She believed that children's development in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are all interrelated; therefore, positive growth in one area will possibly affect growth in all areas. Development begins at birth and is continuous and ongoing from there. Her theory was consistent with the whole language theory in that children should be emmersed in a literacy rich environment.
  • Psycholoinguistic Theory

    Psycholoinguistic Theory
    The beliefs of psycholingustics shifted the classroom from teacher centered to child centered. Goodman developed the Whole Language Theory. This theory stated that readers rely on language cueing systmes to help them rapdily read text. Readers use their knowledge about language and the world to drive thinking. Smith added that reading is a natural process and students should be immersed in high quality literacy environments. Listening, reading, writing and speaking are all interconnected.
  • 8 Principles of Reading Instruction

    8 Principles of Reading Instruction
    In 1967, Jeanne Chall described the prevailing approaches to reading as a set of principles. She described that the goals of reading should include comprehension, interpretation, and application skills. Instruction should always begin with a basis in children's experiences and their interests. She additionally described phonics instruction and meeting students at their instructional needs within small groups.
  • Critical Literacy Theory

    Critical Literacy Theory
    As a researcher in a variety of countries, Freire sought to find ways to understand and educate the poor through pedagogy of liberation. As with other researchers of the time, he strongly believed that learning was a social event. He worked to present illiteracy not as a personal failing, but as a constructed produt of society and the inequalities within it.
  • P. B. Gough

    P. B. Gough
    Gough't Model of literacy instruction was reflective of the information/cognitive processing perspective. In his publications "One Second of Reading," Gough described how reading is a serial process. His model suggested that reading is a series of stages that start when the ey captures the input of each letter. In turn, comprehension is a result of decoding and language comprehension skills.
  • LaBerge and Simmons' Automatic Information Procession Model

    LaBerge and Simmons' Automatic Information Procession Model
    A popular reading model in the 1980's, LaBerge and Simmons developed the Automatic Information Processing Model. This model stated that there were five key components to cognition: visual memory, phonological memory, episodic memory, semantic memory, and attention. Reading begins with the visual procession of text.
  • Metacognition Theory

    Metacognition Theory
    Flavell and Brown were greatly influenced by the work of Piaget. They deduced that activities that teach students to monitor whether or not they are comrpehending texts is an essential component of being a proficient reader. In order for students to employ strategies during reading that sassit them in this process, teachers must explicitly teach children to hink about their thinking.
  • Interactive Model

    Interactive Model
    D. E. Rumelhard beleived that reading was not just a bottom up or top down process. Rather, he believed that it was an interactive process. He believed that literacy was initiated by visual reading text input, simultaneous processing of the information, and then the interpretation of the message by the reader. Students start with visual cues and then use other processes to interpret text.
  • Social Learning Theory

    Social Learning Theory
    Albert Bandura developed the social learnign theory in 1977. He researched chidlren who watched aggressive cartoons and noted that they in tuern played more aggressively with dolls. His theory was that people use cognition to interpret behaviors before mimicking them, or in other words, poeple learn from observing other individuals. He identified four stages of observational learnign: attentional phase, retention phase, reproduction phase, and reinforcement phase.
  • Reader Response Theory

    Reader Response Theory
    An American literary critic influenced by Dewey, Louis Rosenblatt developed the theory that each reader has a personal response to a text drawing from their background knowledge and experiences as a reader. There are two types of responses: efferent (fact oriented) and aesthetic (personally and emotionally based).
  • Theory of Literacy Development

    Theory of Literacy Development
    In 1979, Holdaway created his theory of literacy development. He believed that reading is natural and is reinforced by parents reading. Because reading mimics children's natural development of oral language skills, reading can easily be facilitated through example. A literacy rich homeand classroom reinforces reading development.
  • Integrated Reading

    Integrated Reading
    The idea emerged that reading and other content areas could be integrated across the curriculum.
  • Family Literacy

    Family Literacy
    Denny Taylor coined the term "family literacy" in 1983. His writing about literacy in family, school, and community settings reflected his believe that there is a relationship between families and the development of literacy. Parent involvement in literacy builds background knowledge about the school culture.
  • Verbal Efficiency Theory

    Verbal Efficiency Theory
    In the Verbal Efficiency Theory, Refetti explained individual differences in reading theory. There are three assumptions of the theory. First, word recognition skills are related to speech. Second, how long it takes a reader to read a word tells how well they know that word. And last, decoding skills is a major source of variation.
  • Stages of Model of Reading

    Stages of Model of Reading
    Frith & Gough believed in stages of development in chidlren's word recognition. In the first stage, students use visual cues as their primary way of decoding words. Chidlren memorize words by their chape and then add on the use of contextual information. The second stage is alphabetic. At this stage, some sounds are used to decode words. The third stage is the phonological recording stage.
  • Sociolinguistic Theory

    Sociolinguistic Theory
    Daniels' theory emphasizes the roles of social, cultural, and historical facotrs in the human experience. He emphasizes the social aspect of learning and that evey child brings their previous learning and culture to the learning environment. He was a pioneer onwork for student book clubs.
  • NCLB - No Child Left Behind

    NCLB - No Child Left Behind
    President Bush initiated this act to ensure that all children were receiving educational experiences which would challenge them. In addition, it was established to keep districts and states responsible for showing evidence of meeting the needs and levels of academic success for all students.
  • Put Reading First Publication

    Put Reading First Publication
    The National Institute for Litearcy completed a study and published their findings about early literacy instruction. The National Reading Panel identified five essential areas of instruction for literacy: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabualry, comprehension, and fluency.
  • Engagement Theory

    Engagement Theory
    Guthrie described that engaged readers are better readers. His belief was that engaged readers are intrinsically motivated to read and read frequently. They are all active readers who use metacognitive strategies to build understanding while reading. Students are social and talk about what they are reading and learning.
  • Common Core State Standards

    Common Core State Standards
    The Common Core State Standards is a state-led effort which is coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed through a collaborative effort of teachers, school administrators, and other experts in the field of education. The goal is to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare students for college and the workforce.