Balanced Literacy



Phonics, Viconics, Kinesics - "Developing English is not the same as learning, to see ideas is to learn strategies for literacy"

The preface to Balanced Literacy:

Literacy is a primary focus of education today. Emphasis on professional and scholarly organizations offers standards for language arts and content areas. These standards are aimed at improving children's test scores on reading, writing, listening, and speaking as well as designed to improve students' abilities to communicate, view, and think about the world around them. This focus on literacy suggests that educators must be equipped with a variety of methods to meet the diversity of learners in today's society. Even though we recognize that content supports the development of skills, the methods in the primary grades continue to be on developing skills, not on content. As students age and their skills remain below expectations, the emphasis on skills at the expense of content continues even through the middle and high school grades. Most educators maintain that they seek a balanced approach to literacy. But, on examination of state and district policies in the U.S., there remains the philosophy that literacy refers primarily to teaching a student to read, write, and spell. This notion is further narrowed by legislating a single auditory approach to teaching children the language arts skills for more advanced learning. This auditory approach emphasizes that the learning of phonics and phonemic awareness is necessary and mandatory to reading, writing, speaking, and listening to English. However, this push to emphasize oral fluency as the central measure of reading, and the cultural ethnocentric value that learning to read through phonics and phonemic awareness is only one way to decode, is not balanced. In fact there are other ways to decode English besides using sounds and letters.

The purpose of this book is to expose the reader to a truly balanced literacy approach-an approach that includes a multilingual perspective to learning to speak, read, and write. This multilingual approach uses principles of viconics and kinesics to add a visual and motor dimension to learning to read and write English, an auditory language. With the recognition that classrooms consist of different learners, then a multilingual approach to literacy is critical. This multilingual approach is based on what is known about languages, not just English, and how we neurobiologically learn languages. These methods and strategies have been used with hundreds of clients and used by hundreds of teachers providing a database. Many of the students who have successfully used the principles in this book previously failed programs that emphasized strong phonics and phonemic awareness approaches. The approach in this book offers hope to students who struggle with phonics and phonemic awareness and offers to these students a more balanced approach to the multiple ways students learn language for successfully reading, writing, thinking, viewing, speaking, and listening. According to J. David Cooper, "We must view literacy as the ability to communicate in real-world situations, which involves the abilities of individuals to read, write, speak, listen, view, and think," (p. 6).

This book will take the reader through the way learners acquire concepts for use in these areas of literacy. This foundation will offer the reader the rationale for using a balanced approach to literacy to include kinesics and viconics. Each of these terms will be defined and strategies for this balanced approach will be provided.

We wish the reader the best in offering all students the right to learn to use printed information, to speak English with the fluency of an educated person, and to write with ease and eloquence of being literate. These competencies should reflect the student's ability to think and view the world around each of them.

Product Number: APR215

Year Published: 2002


Mabel M. Brown, M.A. More Information
Ellyn Lucas Arwood, Ed.D. More Information