Advocating for Equity in Literacy Instruction: Reading and Writing Development
Diversity is an inevitable aspect when it comes to an education system in the modern world. In fact, students and teachers from different racial, tribal, and ethnic backgrounds find themselves in the same schools and classrooms within the defined education system. For instance, the presence of natives and English as second language students has direct implications for reading and writing development. In essence, learning under the similar circumstances implies that the ESL students are likely to be disadvantaged. Consequently, the different setups have necessitated the policy and curriculum developers to come up with initiatives to enhance equity in the teaching-learning process. Therefore, it is worth noting that deliberate efforts are required in ensuring that the ESL learners acquire language literacy to enhance reading and writing development, as well as augment equity in mastery of instructions.
Language literacy encompasses the ability of the students to read, write, communicate, and acquire listening proficiency in the instructional language. In fact, literacy enhances the ability of the students to conceptualize the content in the subjects of the study. Reading can be a challenging aspect to many students, particularly the ESL ones. Moreover, the poor reading skills inhibit learning, as the individuals can hardly understand the conceptual text. As such, literacy indicates the effectiveness in playing a role in a shared, modeled, and independent reading. The knowledge of phonics, word recognition, and the application of vocabularies at the given age and level of study are fundamental measures of the reading literacy (Rowsell & Walsh, 2011; Sankey, Birch & Gardiner, 2011). Besides, understanding the concepts enhances the capability to understand information in a reading material. As a learner interacts with a text, he/she is expected to navigate through the meaning presented and conceptualize the underlying concepts.
In addition, writing literacy entails the capability to compose, plan, and produce organized and meaningful texts. The text, in this case, includes the paper or multimedia transcripts that should be relevant to the concept and the context of its development. At the planning stage, the individual is expected to understand the expectations of the audience to put in place the components or contexts that are appealing and meaningful (Ajayi, 2011a). Therefore, the text produced should be coherent, well organized, and designed in a way that integrates the relevant components.
On the other hand, talking and listening are other important literacy components. In fact, through listening, a learner can acquire knowledge and skills. Furthermore, when an individual’ listening skills are enhanced, then the person can get the contextual meaning from other people and, in this case, from the instructor. Nevertheless, talking is a capability or a way of demonstrating that learning a particular concept has taken place. As such, the ability to articulate matters fluently is a critical indicator of literacy. Therefore, two aspects, including listening and talking are closely related, particularly when one is engaged in a face-to-face conversation. However, under the digital era, the ability to read and write is equally critical (Ajayi, 2011a). In other words, a teacher should strive in assisting the students to acquire a satisfactory literacy level in the four aspects as the basis for effective learning in various subject areas.
Consequently, a teacher engaging students with a deficiency in language literacy strategies should make efforts in assisting the learners to acquire the required proficiency. As such, the use of multimodal models is an effective approach towards the enhancement of literacy. Hence, the multimodal teaching-learning undertaking involves the use of instruments that facilitate better learning than when involving the traditional textual presentation (Walsh, 2011). The first recommended way, in this regard, is the pictorial presentation. Under those premises, the teacher uses labeled pictures that are accompanied by the texts in the context of the presentation. Therefore, learners are in a position to relate the concept presented to the real life and hence understand the scenario presented. It is worth noting that individuals with the language barrier acquire knowledge at a better level as the combination of both the visual and textual information increases awareness and the ability to capture concepts presented.
The second strategy is the guided reading where the teacher seeks to assist learners with the difficulties in reading to acquire the capability. In this case, the instructor takes the responsibility to guide the student in conceptualizing the contextual meaning of the concepts being taught (Ajayi, 2011b). In essence, he/she assist the learners to familiarize themselves with the vocabularies and structures in grammar. Apart from gaining proficiency in reading, the guided learning also assists the learners to acquire knowledge in the subject areas.
Paired reading is the other strategy whose application can assist the learners to improve their literacy level. Hence, the instructor puts the learners in pairs and directs them to read the text silently after which they read aloud one at a time. The teacher listens to the students to evaluate the quality of the reading while identifying the vocabularies that seem unfamiliar to the readers (Walsh, 2011). From the paired reading, the teacher identifies common mistakes and discusses them with the rest of the class. Nevertheless, individual mistakes are given attention by the instructor at a personal level. In the end, the students get to learn from own mistakes as well as identify their weaknesses.
The use of advanced multimedia technology has played a significant role in enhancing literacy level in a diverse learning environment. Through the technology, different models are integrated into textbooks that are aimed at assisting the second language students to understand the underlying concepts (Walsh, 2011). Therefore, the reading materials incorporate the images and pictures that make sense to the reader even before getting to understand the accompanying text. In essence, the learning materials incorporating such features become appealing to the learners, hence increasing their interest to learn.
In addition, the teachers in the contemporary world can use videos, VHS, and audio cassettes in the teaching-learning process to complement the textbooks and other traditional learning materials. In essence, the application of those learning gadgets assists the students to relate the concept being taught in the real life context (Walsh, 2011). More importantly, the learners can apply the multimedia materials to get more insights on the aspects presented. In fact, the models enhance assimilation of the concept as the visual and motion features are likely to stick in the learner’s mind than when the traditional print materials are used.
Writing skills can also be acquired through the guidance of the teacher in the classroom setup. Indeed, the teacher calls upon the students to write about a topic of their interest and evaluate their skill level. In that event, the teacher corrects the mistakes on sentence structure, vocabulary usage, and flow of the content. In another approach, the teacher pairs the students allow them to exchange their writings for peer evaluation. In this case, the learners identify the mistakes from the one another indicating that they are aware of what constitute good writing (Siegel, 2012). In addition, the students highlight the mistakes identified and the teacher can discuss the shortcomings in class. Essentially, the collaboration between teacher and the students assist the learners in practicing the writing skills they have learned while, at the same time, the tutor takes a little time to identify the common mistakes among the individual. Therefore, the teamwork becomes a good platform for quality and speedy literacy learning.
It is imperative for the modern teacher to appreciate the role of digital and communication technology in enhancing literacy. For instance, Podcasting is a revolutionary application upon which students can enhance their writing literacy. In fact, the platform is used in undertaking literacy tasks such as research, designing, and writing of texts. Therefore, the students have the opportunity to broadcast the texts they produce through the school website or any other platform. In addition, the writing is exposed to scrutiny by a large number of people with some of them evaluating and giving suggestions on areas of weaknesses and how to improve them. A teacher can be part of the engagement or at times can leave the student to practice peer learning. Apart from Podcasting, students can also learn through the schools’ blogs, blackboards, and social media platforms (Shanahan, 2013). In the same manner, the students can undertake the process of learning as a self- initiative where they can use of smartphones and personal computers, which will enable them to access the writing, reading, and learning platforms while out of the school’s setup. However, it is immensely important for the teacher to give suggestions to the students on the best platforms to participate in.
In essence, the realization of equity in education is not any easy task due to the differences in knowledge acquisition capabilities. However, it is clear that a teacher can play a critical role in facilitating the realization of learning parity, by advocating for literacy across the content areas. Besides, putting in place literacy strategies in listening, talking, reading, and writing is a valuable step upon which student can effectively acquire and conceptualize knowledge and skills. Finally, the use of multimodal models such as pictures, images, and social media communication platforms has also revolutionized learning.