Date of Award

Summer 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


How do students learn to read and spell? How do they best construct meaning from literacy lessons? This study discusses a balanced approach to literacy education examining the use of phonetic and whole-language approaches to instruction. The author examines the benefits of teaching reading and spelling using each approach separately, and then in a balance of methodologies for student success. Differentiation and constructivism, defined as the way a teacher flexibly implements instruction based on student need and progress, along with student learning through experience to make meaning from information presented, as partners in the suggested balanced literacy approach. Word study, a hands-on language arts program that uses students own ability to make meaning out of what they are learning is also included in the study. Peer conferencing is another facet highlighted as one of many necessary components to student success. Findings from several well regarded research studies were employed to further the discussion. The paramount importance of recognizing developmental steps from alphabet and letter awareness to blending and segmenting words was reviewed as well. Conclusions drawn from this research suggest that a continuation of the blended use of phonetics, basal and whole-language methods of teaching language arts leads to increased student progress and literacy acquisition.


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