English Language Arts: what they are and how to teach them within a classical framework.
Parts of ELA:
Teaching your child to read is perhaps the most difficult and most important job you will ever have as a homeschooling parent. The Simple View formula presented by Gough and Tunmer in 1986 is: Decoding (D) x Language Comprehension (LC) = Reading Comprehension (RC)
Hollis Scarborough, a reading researcher, came up with the analogy of the Reading Rope. Her analogy is that learning to read requires seven strands of education for children to become fluent readers. Addressing each strand is necessary, but insufficient on its own.
Classical education addresses all of them, often with specific curricula.
Decoding (the early years)
Why it matters?
Stanovich, Keith E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 360-407.
Quote: “The increased reading experiences of children who crack the spelling-to-sound code early thus have important positive feedback effects. Such feedback effects appear to be potent sources of individual differences in academic achievement”
- phonological awareness
- sight recognition
Comprehension (accumulates) — the Matthew Effect
In 1988, Recht and Leslie tested children by dividing them into four groups based on two factors: reading ability and prior knowledge of baseball (creating groups of high-high, high-low, low-high, and low-low). In all measurements, the students with high prior knowledge performed better, regardless of which reading level they had been grouped with. “In light of the importance of adequate prior knowledge, strategy instruction and the knowledge base should be equally considered in the design of instruction.” In other words, we need to give kids background knowledge AND teach them how to decode texts.
- Diffuse background knowledge
- “field trips to museums, art galleries, and the like, as well as … travel and exchange programs”
- talking with your child–possibly the most important intervention you can do with young children. Erika Christakis wrote a whole book about why it was so important (The Importance of Being Little)
- picture study
- “an ongoing atmosphere of exploration, experimentation, and happy chaos” — Susan Wise Bauer
- Memory Work (AJ! Poetry memorization, etc) Classical education uses memorization as a way of cementing the knowledge gained in the curriculum. Memorization frees up working memory to deal with new cognitive tasks (i.e., what you’re trying to teach them!). It also provides connecting points for new information to build knowledge.
In ELA, that can include things like grammar definitions or more general background knowledge (mythology, proverbs, etc.), but memorizing poetry is the most common and popular type of ELA memory work. As Courtney mentioned, nursery rhymes and tongue twisters build phonemic awareness and help with pronunciation (mention my recent Spanish class). Children’s poetry is often playful and humorous but also introduces simple poetic forms and accustoms children to the rhythm of language. Classic poetry for older students helps exercise the memory and helps them recognize common types of figurative language, which will be important both in literary analysis and in their own writing.
- Spelling -> vocabulary/etymology
- “a systematic curriculum that presents new words in familiar contexts, thereby enabling the student to make correct meaning-guesses unconsciously” — E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
- “In the content areas (history, science, literature, art, music), classical learning provides a [systematic] framework” for learning about new things — Susan Wise Bauer
- Spelling Workout
- All About Spelling
- Vocabulary from Classical Roots
- Wordly Wise
- language structures/Grammar and composition
- verbal reasoning
- Read-alouds/literacy knowledge
- Writing With Ease (curriculum that includes print concepts, genre)
- “The student who is working on ancient history will read Greek and Roman mythology, the tales of the Iliad and Odyssey, early medieval writings, Chinese and Japanese fairy tales, and (for the older student) the classical texts of Plato, Herodutus, Virgil, Aristotle.” — Susan Wise Bauer
- Handwriting Without Tears
- MP’s New American Cursive
- Logic of English–Rhythm of Handwriting
Show notes links:
Living Memory and 101 Poems anthology: https://quidnampress.com/memory-work/