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Children are not born with understanding of linking their knowledge and experience in well-informed ways to printed and pictorial texts. Somehow they need to study procedures for understanding texts just as they study the ways of eating and talking in an appropriate manner of their respective cultures (Cochran-Smith, 1986). In early grades an effective classroom instruction is a key to produce strong, competent readers and to prevent reading difficulties (Watkins & Bunce, 1996).
Researchers overwhelmingly state that interactive book reading enhances language development in children and help them to learn printed words that are different from oral language describing sounds and carrying meanings (Teale, 1978; Teale, 1981). Shared reading provides opportunities to children to participate in reading, learn critical concepts of practical use of print, acquire the feel of learning and begin to identify themselves as readers (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996).
Holdaway (1979) developed the shared reading model. The foundation of this model was the research that storybook reading is significantly important for children's reading development. In shared reading children remain actively engage throughout the reading (Yaden, Smolkin, & Conlon, 1989). Young children's vocabulary growth can be facilitated through share-book reading and the accompanied conversation. Children with larger vocabularies can learn more than those with smaller vocabularies. The demand level or placement of questions differently from young children does not affect word learning. However, an approximation to scaffolding - where with the first appearance of words, adults ask low demand questions and high demand questions latter that facilitates children's deeper understanding of word meanings (Blewitt, Rump, Shealy, & Cook, 2009). Shared-book reading creates opportunities for children and adult to construct knowledge in a social setting and discuss meaning together.
Using the thought of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development Bruner (1983; 1986) developed the concept of "scaffolding" (Cited in Fleer, 1995).Â Scaffolding is "the systematic sequencing of prompted content, materials, tasks, and teacher and peer support to optimize learning" (Dickson, Chard, & Simmons, 1993). In scaffolding teacher provides support to children till they are able to apply new skills and strategies independently (Rosenshine & Meister, 1992). Through collaboration with children teacher can adjust the amount of scaffolding they provide to children that helps children to gain understanding and complete tasks. This process necessitates for the ability of an adult to judge the existing level of knowledge of a child and also to identify how to "push" the child a bit beyond that. This work is carried out what Vygotsky calls within the child's zone of proximal development (ZPD). Scaffolding instructions and learning takes place in the ZPD (Fleer, 1995). A child uses oral language as a vehicle to discover and negotiate emergent written language. Over the time, the teacher's level and type of support changes from instruction to suggestions, to encouragement, and to observation (Dyson, 1991).
Shared-book reading provides opportunities to children to ask questions and "learn about books, language, characters, feelings, emotions, etc" (Evans, 1997, p.2). Shared reading is linked with a number of gains in children's cognition, including emergent literacy, oral language development and vocabulary development (Arnold, 1997). Shared reading creates unique scaffolding and developmental opportunities to sound out words in the text. Reading aloud facilitates and helps children to develop listening skills, attention to words, proper pronunciations and awareness to concerned language. Shared reading contributes positively in developing phonemic awareness - important metalinguistic skill for successful acquisition of reading and writing (Ukrainetz, Cooney, Dyer, Kysar, & Harris, 2000). Shared reading makes the children able to learn to identify letters in the text. Adult can scaffold children's reading of text, oral language development and vocabulary through identification of letter (Watkins & Bunce, 1996). For example a teacher can read to a child without the child has ever seen the words, letters or pictures. Similarly, a teacher when reads with children can guide and scaffold them through sounding out words, talking about pictures with them and helps them to identify letters and words in the text.
From a young age regular shared reading has positive correlation with language development. It also has considerable impact on vocabulary development, listening comprehension and understanding of print concepts (Sénéchal & Cornell, 1993). A teacher can contribute in literacy promoting environment by drawing his students' attention to print including reading and writing in the everyday world.
For emergent literacy development shared book reading is considered mostly powerful because its context is meaningful, interesting, and motivating for preschool children (Watkins & Bunce, 1996). Active engagement in shared book reading in turns transfer literacy knowledge from adult to child.
Effective pedagogical strategies for shared book reading
Share-book reading is an interactive reading experience that takes place when children join in or share-book reading while guided and supported by a teacher. Before starting shared-book reading the teacher should introduce the story/text, talk about the title and cover etc. it is an appropriate time to involve children in what they see in the cover picture and what it will tell them in the reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996).
During reading the teacher should point to each word as it is read. Teacher should pause from time to time and should inquire from children to predict a word, phrase or to make prediction about the upcoming happenings in the story etc. After reading the teacher should take back children to the point of making predictions and inquire that how they knew their predictions were correct or incorrect (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996).
A teacher should invite children's attention to revisit noticeable text for various purposes such as to learn about letter or words. Drawing attention of children to letters helps them in construction of message that gives new insight to bring to their independent reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996).
The story/text or portion of it should be written on sentence strips that will motivate children to retell or build the story by placing strips in order. Likewise roles from the reading can be assigned to children for creating of a drama activity. The character role should be labelled on index card which children should wear while performing in drama (Fisher & Medvic, 2000).
Part - B: Teacher-Child shared reading
This multilevel transcript of teacher-child interaction describes the possibilities of extending thinking and learning through the shared reading activity. The transcript shows that child has rich vocabulary however reading the words together aids with phonemic awareness, picture and text recognition and oral language development have occurred throughout this shared reading exercise. The transcript indicates some obvious turn-taking patterns - where the teacher and child exchange questions and answers that enhance the child's understanding of the pictures and the conventions of print and language (Cochran-Smith, 1986). For example at the beginning the teacher asks, "Look at that boy. What do you think he is doing?" and child replies at turn that "Snoring". However teacher inquires that "Snoring or yawning" and further he explains yawning situation by linking boy's open mouth pose. Throughout, the exercise shows such explanations of pictures in questions and answers form which augments child's understanding of the picture book and conventions of print and language.
Using the model of 'Building Preschool Children's Language and Literacy one Storybook at a Time' (Beauchat, Blamey, & Walpole, 2009) the transcript illustrates that conversation has fostered following aspect(s) of child's language and literacy learning.
The development of oral language
The interactive reading session provided a good opportunity for negotiation of meaning and understanding of literacy conventions which are equally important (Cochran-Smith, 1986) for fostering language and literacy development in children. For instance teacher asks child "what happens after a caterpillar comes out of a cocoon? What happens to him?" Child replies, "he turns into a butterfly" and teacher affirms him that butterfly, that's right. Throughout the conversation teacher listens to child and also uses his conversation to keep him engage in the shared reading such as when child points, "it's a caterpillar". The teacher confirms his pointation and further connects it with the actual text of the picture. Teacher also praises and encourages when the child points to a picture and correctly pointes to turtle's shell.
The transcription exemplifies that teacher remained successful in developing comprehension of the child during shared reading. When teacher questions about the Snow Carne sleeping position, "Do you think it would be hard to sleep standing on one leg?" This engages child in theory of mind (to investigate if a child knows about others' thoughts, feelings, and desires etc (Flavel, 2000)). Similarly teacher asks questions linked with other picture(s) and text such as teacher is pointing towards a cave that was already explained to child hence teacher inquires, "Can you see the bear there? I can see him too. What do you think this is?" This indicates the development of comprehension in child for language and literacy learning.
However comprehension can further be improved by putting prediction questions to the child like before start reading to ask what this book is all about and at the end to inquire from the child that what did he deduce from the book, can he briefly recall what did just we read?
Growth in vocabulary
A teacher's explanation of new word(s) encountered during shared reading can add to child's vocabulary (Coyne, 2004). We can find in this conversation that on one or two occasions the teacher explains to some extent a specific word such as when teacher inquires from child, "Do you get moths at your home at night time?" But when the child shows ignorance that what actually moths are? Then teacher explains the word by using technique of labeling and connecting moths with butterfly and this may result in some gains in vocabulary.
However improvement in vocabulary gain can be achieved through identification and introduction of specific words during reading and repeating those specific words after telling by the teacher. For example at the beginning when teacher explains a yawning boy's pose but she does not make distinction between snoring and yawning to the child. In the same after introducing yawning to child the teacher should guide him to say the word for establishing phonological representation (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002). This helps the child to root that word in his memory. Teacher can also provide her own examples from real life outside of the picture book to improve the child vocabulary.
Awareness about phonology
The transcription does not depict many instances relating to phonological awareness except one - where child connects word "cat" with "caterpillar" but there too the teacher only draws attention to the word and not sound. Perhaps the child has rich vocabulary therefore this part was not focused however this strength of child can accelerated his reading acquisition (Adams, 1990) and can make him a competent reader.
This part needs much improvement. Awareness about phonology can be improved through identification and counting rhyme words such as firefly and butterfly.
Awareness about book and print conventions
Teacher has pointed towards some basic information about book and print conventions such as telling names of the author and photographer but neither herself nor invites child to discuss about their roles in the book. Similarly teacher says about book's name but does not discuss about the title, front, and back of the book and function of picture/print which are the important elements of book constitution (Lonigan, Whitehurst, 1998) therefore all these components need improvement.
Thought for letters and words
The transcription is silent about this fact that whether teacher has instructed child to track what he reads or points during shared reading, therefore, this component needs to be improved. The teacher while reading and pointing to pictures should ask child to put finger under each of the word/picture he reads and then identify letters in each word. This will familiarize child with words and terms knowledge.
The transcript indicates that teacher provided enough scaffolding support to the child. For example when teacher asks about Moth and child is unable to recognize it without the support of teacher then teacher helps him in identification by explaining and resembling it with butterfly for his understanding. Likewise when child points towards cocoon but unable to identify it then teacher provides him scaffolding support in identification and explaining next phase of cocoon's life.
The transcript shows that teacher and child remained actively engage in shared reading that helped them to comprehend better and understand the conventions of book. Physical sharing and reading the book to child, mutual questioning and responding, giving praise and feedback, monitoring the child's understanding and adjustment in mutual dialogue to recognize this understating can enhance children's language and literacy skills development. However improvements are needed in the areas of vocabulary growth, phonological awareness, building thoughts for words and letters, and awareness for book and print conventions.