Whole Language: What's the Difference?

Front Cover
Pearson Education, 1991 - Education - 117 pages

Just what is Whole Language? Does the term have a core meaning? As teachers, researchers, and teacher educators, the authors of this book maintain that it does and, having worked extensively with the concept of Whole Language, they recognize the need to clarify that meaning.

To demonstrate that Whole Language is much more than a label, they offer here

  • a clear and comprehensive discussion of the theoretical supports for Whole Language that comes primarily from theory about language and language acquisition;
  • a thorough explanation of why Whole Language is not the same as the "whole world" approach to language teaching;
  • a discussion of how Whole Language fits into a history of other progressive movements in education;
  • and exploration of the relationship between Whole Language and the writing process;
  • a series of compelling vignettes of life in a Whole Language classroom.

Readers who want to increase their understanding of this trend in American education will learn that Whole Language is much more than a label; it is a perspective, a theory-in-practice, a powerful alternative with a history.

From inside the book

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In Summary
Some Historical Predecessors of Whole Language
The Current Scene

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Common terms and phrases

About the author (1991)

Carole Edelsky is Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Arizona State University. Her research has been based on language and language learning, and she has worked on developing the theoretical distinction between reading/writing and reading/writing exercises. She is active in the Center for Establishing Dialogue in Teaching and Learning, Inc., a non-profit corporation organized by teachers to help teachers take control of their own professional growth, and she has worked with numerous groups of teachers in the United States and Canada on whole language theory-in-practice.

Bess Altwerger is the author or editor of three books with Heinemann: ReReading Fluency (2007), Reading for Profit (2005), and Whole Language: What's the Difference? (1990). She is Professor of Elementary Education and Graduate Reading at Towson University. Bess has worked to develop critical literacy pedagogies that prepare students to build a more just, democratic, and sustainable future. Her current activies are devoted to transforming repressive literacy policies, reprofessionalizing teaching, and returning joy to classrooms.

Barbara Flores is a teacher educator and professor at California State University, San Bernadino. For the past ten years she has been engaged in collaborative action research with teachers and administrators in their implementation and transformation of whole language with culturally and linguistically diverse children. She coauthored Reading in a Bilingual Classroom: Literacy and Biliteracy with her mentors, Drs. Ken and Yetta Goodman, and has published various articles and chapters in journals and books.

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