What is Culturally Responsive Research-Based Reading Instruction?

The debate about how to teach reading has been going on for more than a century. Reading instruction methodology has undergone a myriad of changes from 19th-century letter recognition drills, to phonics-centred instruction that came into vogue in the late 1960s, to the dramatically different, meaning-based, “whole language” instruction in the 1980s, and the immediately opposing “balanced literacy” approach in the mid-1990s. All of these together birthed the nowadays most commonly used research-based reading instruction, which, due to the increasingly diverse, multilingual, multicultural, inclusive classroom contexts, is further evolving in terms of its cultural responsiveness. Essentially, reading is comprehending, and how much of the text the readers comprehend depends on a number of internal and external variables. This paper will provide a brief overview of the development of reading instruction methodology, with emphasis on key research-based reading comprehension strategies that also highlight the features of the culturally responsive instruction. The ultimate goal is to facilitate teaching by providing insights into relevant aspects of reading instruction which seeks to build on students’ background, includes dialogic instruction, and requires the development of high-level thinking skills.

Author: Erna Grcic, MA

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