Update: What does the research tell us about language & literacy?
Research Spotlight: Fang, Z. (2008). Going Beyond the Fab Five: Helping Students Cope With the Unique Linguistic Challenges of Expository Reading In Intermediate Grades. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 51(6), 476-487.
Reading instruction for intermediate grades in many schools continues to focus on a set of basic, generalizable skills and strategies that address the five areas identified by the National Reading Panel as central to the reading process – namely phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension strategies. The continuing emphasis on the “Fab Five,” which are hallmarks of primary-grade reading instruction, does not, however, adequately prepare students to read more challenging expository texts of, for example, science and social studies that await them in intermediate grades and beyond (Fang, p. 476).
Fang uses two texts, one narrative and one expository, to detail the linguistic differences between story texts used in primary grades and expository texts used past the primary level in school. He argues that because of these linguistic differences, reliance on the “Fab Five” (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension strategies) are not enough to teach students how to understand texts in later grades. Below is chart summarizing the differences:
Fang provides several strategies and activities that are specific to teaching students how to comprehend expository text. A summary of the list is below. In this series, I will detail a strategy each week. These will be provided in the resource section of this website. In the weekly newsletter, I will provide a “grammar boost” to help refresh teachers on the key grammar concepts addressed in this article. Sign up here to have this weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Friday morning.
Erickson’s Big Takeaways:
Reliance on classic comprehension strategy instruction to teach students how to comprehend text is simply not enough support for students to tackle complex content text. They need specific strategies that address the language demands of the text. Fang provides several examples of these kinds of strategies. Great resource!