Sustainable Reading and Writing Instruction: A Question for Teacher Education

By Tarja Alatalo.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Learning occurs in meaningful situations and is tied to cooperation and interaction, which teacher education needs to emphasize in all teacher preparation programs. Furthermore, communication in the information era is built largely on multimodal languages such as symbols and images, which teacher education also must pay attention to. But still the written word is fundamental in communication and therefore needs to be in focus in teacher education. For that reason, parallel to knowledge about sociocultural approaches on learning and development and multimodality in the literacy area, teacher students need basic knowledge about children’s reading and writing development. Such knowledge is essential for the teacher to be able to accurately identify where each student is in her or his reading and writing processes in order to be able to respond to and support her or his literacy development. In the literacy area there are skills that children need to learn by practicing on their own. In reading for example, such items are decoding, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. This means that teacher education students also need to possess the theoretical knowledge of literacy instruction. Thus teachers’ knowledge of reading and writing development is an important foundation for sustainable reading and writing instruction. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether teacher education should increase teacher education students’ opportunities to provide sustainable reading and writing instruction. The present study, with a teacher knowledge survey (TKS) completed by 269 Swedish teachers in primary school grades 1-3, indicated that a large part of them lack understanding of children’s written language development as well as of reading and writing instruction. For the reading and writing instruction to be sustainable, the conclusion is that teacher education should focus more on basic elements in reading and writing development, of course without forgetting the benefits of cooperative and multimodal learning. Limitations of the study are that the data only shows teachers’ knowledge but not how they use it in practice. Nor is there any data about teachers’ attitudes and knowledge of socio-cultural perspectives on learning or of multimodal learning.

Keywords: Reading and Writing Instruction, Teacher Education, Teacher Knowledge

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 299.041KB).

Tarja Alatalo

PhD, Senior Lecturer in Educational Work, School of Education and Humanities, Högskolan Dalarna (Dalarna College University), Falun, Sweden

Alatalo, T. (2011). Skicklig läs- och skrivundervisning i åk 1-3: Om lärares möjligheter och hinder. (Proficient reading and writing instruction in grades 1-3: Teachers’ opportunities and obstacles) Academic dissertation. Göteborg. Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. Alatalo, T. (2011). Teachers’ knowledge and experiences of teaching reading and writing. Paper on ECER Congress in Berlin 09/13/11. Peer rewieved