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Whole language in a first grade classroom: The weaving of a philosophy and practice in teaching

1 December 1991


Whole language is an approach to reading and writing instruction which is gaining in popularity in the elementary classrooms of this nation. Because it abandons the widely used basal for the majority of reading instruction, many teachers are not sure of how a philosophy of whole language would be played out in the classroom setting. This paper investigates how a philosophy of whole language and its practice in teaching are displayed in a First Grade ciassroom. It begins with a review of the literature on the . emergence of literacy in children and how that process relates to the philosophy of teaching reading and writing to children, or explicitly, the development of the whole language teaching philosophy. An examination of the child as an active participant in the learning process is conducted in the literature review . . Instructional materials in a whole language classroom versus that of a basal centered instruction is briefly compared also in the literature review. Through a seven week observation period of a First Grade whole language centered classroom and an intensive interview with that classroom's teacher three dominant themes emerged from the First Grade whole language setting. Those themes are print richness, child centered instruction, and the socialness of the whole language learning environment.


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