Technology-Infused Balanced Literacy for Enhancing the Reading Skills of Early Grade Children

Technology-Infused Balanced Literacy for Enhancing the Reading Skills of Early Grade Children

Amar Ali Khan (National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan), Manzile Maqsood (National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan) and Sajid Umair (National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2706-0.ch001
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Abstract

English is considered as a universal and global language. It serves as a bridge between different cultures and countries. Owing to its great importance research studies are being carried out across the world in order to find out the best ways of teaching English Language at earlier stages of schooling. One such identified way is balanced literacy. This is a systematic approach towards teaching English not as a subject but as a language. This study was conducted to see the effect of technology infused balanced literacy approach on the learning skills and engagement level of English learners in context of Pakistani schools where English is taught as a second Language. An intervention of six weeks was carried out. During the study the conventional teaching methodology of English was also observed. The results of the study suggest the use of balanced literacy for improvement of reading skills.
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Introduction

Reading is a fundamental and significant aspect of education. Various educational surveys undertaken by organizations reveal that students in Pakistan are lagging behind in reading scores in English language. Students in Pakistan are struggling with reading. The ASER (2014) report shows that only 57% of the 5th grade students were able to read sentences which they are supposed to be able to read in grade 2 (Daily Times, 2015) The same survey showed that the difference in reading level of Public schools and Private school, 63% of Grade 5 school children were able to read grade 2 level sentences as compared to 57% in Public Schools. Similarly, a report by UNESCO shows that 36% grade 5 students are unable to read an English sentence (5.5 Million out of school children UNESCO report, 2014). This is resulting in low literacy rate, low reading outcomes and decreased student performance. To overcome these barriers, pedagogical reforms are needed for proper imparting of English reading comprehension.

One such Pedagogical reform is known as Balanced Literacy Approach. Unlike the conventional approaches of teaching reading comprehension, which focuses on reading drills, this approach takes in account different strategies to build sound reading capabilities of the students. The Balanced Literacy Approach usually requires enhanced amount of class duration, to decrease this time taken technology comes into play. Through proper use of technology, the components of Balanced Literacy Approach can be imparted without consuming additional class time.

The focus of this study is to see the effectiveness of Technology Infused Balanced Literacy Approach as compared to conventional skill based approach in primary schools. In skill based approach the students are passed through mere reading drills and no focus is laid on their comprehension and phonic abilities. Whereas the Balanced Literacy Approach, through its multiple facets, takes in account different strategies like Read Aloud, Guided Reading, and Shared reading this not only improves the reading capabilities but also enhances the comprehension skills of individuals.

A balanced literacy instruction can solve the problem of under achievers in reading and increase the reading potential of struggling reader (Baumann, 1997). In public schools the whole focus is on skills based approach, where the English is taught from curriculum books and stress is laid upon the learning of curriculum words (Bibi, 2009). This skills-based approach is also taking students away from reading books whether these are general or academic. It makes the students unable to apply the learned topics outside the classroom (Carr, 2007). To encourage students for reading books their reading skills needs to be enhanced, for this enhancement a methodology is needed to resolve this issue of low reading outcomes. Balanced Literacy, in which, reading comprehension is taught in interesting and effective way can be used to enhance the reading skills and stop this deviation of students from book reading. Books contains a treasure of knowledge, reading reduces stress and results in improved memory. It is a well-known saying that “Readers of today are leaders of tomorrow”.

Reading

“Reading is the process of looking at a series of written symbols and getting meaning from them (My EnglishClub, 1997). The effective and proper reading takes place when the meaning is taken out of these symbols.

Reading plays an important role not only in education but also in the day to day life of individuals and society (Freire, 1983). In education, its role is obvious, as the basic element for learning is a book and to get meaning out of the book one has to know how to read (DeMit, 2014). Similarly, in daily life one comes across reading medical prescriptions, reading traffic signs, reading the newspaper and such other things involves reading.

The main goal of reading is not just to read but to derive meaning of what is being read. For deriving meaning reading comprehension comes into play. The ability of reading a text, processing it and then understanding it is called Reading comprehension (Taboada, 2012). Fundamentals of reading comprehension are taught at early level grades in schools (Yale, 2012). For a child to be able to read properly and understands it’s meaning he has to learn reading comprehension.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Assessment: Educational assessment is the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skill, attitudes, and beliefs.

Digital Literacy: Digital literacy is the knowledge, skills, and behaviors used in a broad range of digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs, all of which are seen as a network rather than computing devices.

Active Learning: Active learning is a process whereby students engage in activities, such as reading, writing, discussion, or problem solving that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of class content.

Balanced Literacy: Balance of Phonics and Whole Language Approach to reading.

Early Grades Literacy: The ability to read and write in early stages of development.

Engagement in Education: Student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show.

Apps in Education: The role of different digital applications in Education.

Phonics Approach to Reading: Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing of the English language by developing learners' phonemic awareness.

Peer Learning: Peer learning essentially refers to students learning with and from each other as fellow learners without any implied authority to any individual.

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