Language Arts: Patterns of Practice / Edition 8

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The best selling language arts text in the market, Language Arts: Patterns of Practice continues to ground language arts instruction in the contemporary classroom. Its strengthened focus on the needs of English learners, as well as its new coverage of Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and its integrated treatment of technology as a teaching tool combine to make this new edition an invaluable tool for pre-service and elementary language arts teachers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

It offers a comprehensive set of instructional strategies and also offers very solid explanations and examples of how to plan and implement instruction. The text also offers practical best practices for differentiating instruction. My students are unanimously positive semester after semester.

Eileen Kaiser, Northerstern Illinois University

This textbook has it all! I have found this book to include all the topics, tools, and resources needed for preservice language arts teachers.

Vernelle Tyler, Webster University

Tompkins's text is widely recognized as the industry standard for this methods course.

Elaine Pierce Chakonas, Northeastern Illinois University

The activities Tompkins suggests are sound in the pedagogy employed. She offers methods that are not only rooted in sound research, but have been proven to be effective classroom practices.

Kenneth Homes, Webster University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780132685757
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 2/13/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 8
  • Pages: 504
  • Sales rank: 121,958
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail Tompkins I’m a teacher, first and foremost. I began my career as a first-grade teacher in Virginia in the 1970s. I remember one first grader who cried as the first day of school was ending. When I tried to comfort him, he sobbed accusingly, “I came to first grade to learn to read and write and you forgot to teach me.” The next day, I taught that child and his classmates to read and write! We made a small patterned book about one of the stuffed animals in the classroom. I wrote some of the words and the students supplied the others, and I duplicated copies of the book for each child. We practiced reading it until everyone memorized our little book. The children proudly took their books home to read to their parents. I’ve never forgotten that child’s comment and what it taught me: Teachers must understand their students and meet their expectations.

My first few years of teaching left me with more questions than answers, and I wanted to become a more effective teacher so I started taking graduate courses. In time I earned a master’s degree and then a doctorate in Reading/Language Arts, both from Virginia Tech. Through my graduate studies, I learned a lot of answers, but more importantly, I learned to keep on asking questions.

Then I began teaching at the university level. First I taught at Miami University in Ohio, then at the University of Oklahoma, and finally at California State University, Fresno. I’ve taught preservice teachers and practicing teachers working on master’s degrees, and I’ve directed doctoral dissertations. I’ve received awards for my teaching, including the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at California State University, Fresno, and I was inducted into the California Reading Association’s Reading Hall of Fame. Throughout the years, my students have taught me as much as I taught them. I’m grateful to all of them for what I’ve learned.

I’ve been writing college textbooks for more than 20 years, and I think of the books I write as teaching, too. I’ll be teaching you as you read this text. As I write a book, I try to anticipate the questions you might ask and provide that information. I also include students’ samples so you can see concepts that I’m explaining, and I include lists of trade books that you can refer to as you work with students.

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Table of Contents

Language Arts: Patterns of Practice 8e Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Learning and the Language Arts 2

Vignette First Graders Apply the Six Language Arts 2

The Process of Learning 5
Learning Strategies 6
Social Contexts of Learning 7
Implications for Learning Language Arts 7

The Four Language Systems 8
Academic Language 11
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students 11
Critical Literacy 13
Implications for Learning Language Arts 14

A Community of Learners 14
Self-Efficacy 17
The Six Language Arts 18
Language Arts Strategies 20
Communicative Competence 24

Engaging English Learners 24

Summing Up 25

Chapter 2 Teaching and Assessing Language Arts 26

Vignette A Sixth Grade Language Arts Class 26

Literature Focus Units 31
Literature Circles 31
Reading and Writing Workshop 33
Thematic Units 37

Scaffolding Learners 38
Differentiating Instruction 41

Engaging English Learners 42

Teaching Struggling Students 42
Language Arts Standards 44

Monitoring Progress 46
Evaluating Learning 48
Implementing Portfolios 49
High-Stakes Assessments 56

Summing Up 57

Chapter 3 Emergent Literacy 58

Vignette K–1 Students Read and Write 58
Written Language Concepts 62
Alphabet Concepts 64

Shared Reading 74
Language Experience Approach 78

Introducing Young Children to Writing 81
Interactive Writing 81
Minilessons 84

Summing Up 85

Chapter 4 Personal Writing 86

Vignette Seventh Graders Respond to Literature 86

Personal Journals 90
Dialogue Journals 92
Reading Logs 93
Double-Entry Journals 95
Learning Logs 96
Simulated Journals 98

Classroom Blogs 101
Safety Concerns 103

Friendly Letters 104
Email Messages 106
Business Letters 107
Simulated Letters 107

Minilessons 108
Mentor Texts 108

Engaging English Learners 110

Assessing Students’ Personal Writing 112

Summing Up 113

Chapter 5 Oral Language: Listening and Talking 114

Vignette Second Graders Read Folktales 114

Types of Listening 118
Reading Aloud 122
Persuasion 125

TALK 127
Talking in Small Groups 127
Discussions 128
Oral Reports 133
Interviews 133
Debates 134

Minilessons 136
Mentor Texts 137
Taking Notes 137

Engaging English Learners 140

Assessing Oral Language 142

Summing Up 143

Chapter 6 Written Language: Reading and Writing 144

Vignette Ms. Kakutani Uses the Reading Process 144
Stage 1: Prereading 148
Stage 2: Reading 149
Stage 3: Responding 151
Stage 4: Exploring 152
Stage 5: Applying 153
Teaching the Reading Process 153

Stage 1: Prewriting 157
Stage 2: Drafting 158
Stage 3: Revising 159
Stage 4: Editing 162
Stage 5: Publishing 164
Teaching the Writing Process 166
The Author’s Craft 168

Engaging English Learners 172

Reading and Writing Are Reciprocal Processes 173

Summing Up 175

Chapter 7 Visual Language: Viewing and Visually Representing 176

Vignette Eighth Graders Learn About Irony 176

Color 181
Line 184
Symbols 185
Humor 188
Teaching Visual Language 190

Art Appreciation 192
Visual Language in Books 196

Artistic Representations 203
Graphic Representations 204
Dramatic Representations 204

Summing Up 209

Chapter 8 Building Vocabulary 210

Vignette Eighth Graders Study Words 210

Old English (A.D. 450–1100) 213
Middle English (1100–1500) 214
Modern English (1500–Present) 215
Learning About Word Histories 215

Morphological Information 217
Synonyms and Antonyms 219
Homonyms 222
Multiple Meanings 223
Idioms 224
Borrowed Words 225

Targeting Words to Teach 228
Word-Learning Strategies 229
Word Walls 230
Word-Study Activities 232
Minilessons 234

Differentiating Instruction 237

Engaging English Learners 238

Assessing Vocabulary Knowledge 240

Summing Up 241

Chapter 9 Comprehending and Composing Stories 242

Vignette Fifth Graders Read a Novel 242

Elements of Story Structure 247
Story Genres 256
Narrative Devices 258
Teaching Students About Story Structure 258

Engaging English Learners 263

Assessing Students’ Knowledge About Stories 264

Guided Reading 264
Readers Theatre 265
Responding to Stories 266
Retelling Stories 268

Writing Retellings 271
Story Innovations 272
Genre Stories 273
Original Stories 274

Summing Up 275

Chapter 10 Investigating Nonfiction 276

Vignette Kindergartners Learn About Fish 276

Expository Text Structures 285
Nonfiction Features 287
Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction Books 287

The Research Process 289
Research Tools 289
Reporting 291
Multigenre Projects 299
Life Stories 301

Research Workshop 305
Minilessons 306
Mentor Texts 306

Engaging English Learners 308

Assessing Nonfiction Projects 309

Summing Up 310

Chapter 11 Exploring Poetry 312

Vignette Sixth Graders Participate in Poetry Workshop 312

Laughing With Language 316
Creating Word Pictures 318
Experimenting With Rhyme 318

Poems Students Read 320
Poems Students Write 320
Poetic Devices 333

How to Read Poems 335
Teaching Students to Write Poems 340
Minilessons 342
Mentor Texts 344

Engaging English Learners 344

Assessing Poetry 345

Summing Up 347

Chapter 12 Learning to Spell Conventionally 348

Vignette Fourth Graders Study Spelling Words 348

Invented Spelling 353
Stages of Spelling Development 353
Analyzing Students’ Spelling Development 356

Spelling Strategies 360
Components of the Spelling Program 361
Minilessons 367
Weekly Spelling Tests 367

Engaging English Learners 371

Assessing Students’ Spelling Development 372

Summing Up 373

Chapter 13 Language Tools: Grammar and Handwriting 374

Vignette Fifth Graders Learn Grammar Through Literature 374

Grammar Concepts 379
Teaching Grammar 382

Engaging English Learners 390

Assessing Students’ Knowledge About Grammar 390

Handwriting Forms 391
Students’ Handwriting Development 392
Teaching Handwriting 393

Summing Up 399

Chapter 14 Putting It All Together 400

Vignette First Graders Study the Solar System 400

How to Develop a Literature Focus Unit 405
A Primary Grade Unit on The Mitten 409
An Upper Grade Unit on The Giver 411

How to Organize Literature Circles 411

Establishing a Workshop Environment 415
How to Set Up a Reading Workshop 415
How to Set Up a Writing Workshop 417

How to Develop a Thematic Unit 421
Using Content-Area Textbooks 423
A Fourth Grade Unit on Flight 425

Summing Up 427

Special Features Table of Contents


Mr. Voss’s Kindergartners Learn to Predict 85
Mr. Rinaldi’s Eighth Graders Write Simulated Letters 109
Ms. Shapiro Teaches Her Second Graders About Sustaining Conversations 138
Ms. Yarborough Introduces Revising to Third Graders 168
Mrs. Monroe Teaches Her Sixth Graders About Word Histories 236
Mrs. Levin’s Second Graders Learn About Theme 260
Mr. Uchida Teaches His Fifth Graders How to Write Data Charts 307
Mr. Johnston Teaches His Third Graders to Read Poems Expressively 343
Mrs. Hamilton Teaches the “Think It Out” Strategy 369
Ms. Thomas Teaches Manuscript Letter Formation 395


Minilessons 31
Think-Alouds 40
Rubrics 51
Shared Reading 75
Language Experience Approach 79
Interactive Writing 83
Classroom Blogs 102
Interactive Read-Alouds 123
Grand Conversations 130
Hot Seat 135
Revising Groups 160
Interpreting Political Cartoons 190
Viewing Images 193
Story Boards 199
Process Drama 207
Word Learning 229
Word Walls 231
Sketch-to-Stretch 256
Guided Reading 266
Retelling Stories 269
The Research Process 290
Cubing 294
Choral Reading 338
Gallery Walks 342
Making Words 366
Word Ladders 368
Anticipation Guides 424

Integrating Technology

Literacy and the Internet 23
Online Assessment Tools 55
Electronic and Interactive Media 73
Technology-Supported Activities 38
Publishing Writing Online 166
Digital Tools for Viewing and Visually Representing 191
Digital Tools for Teaching Vocabulary 236
Digital Tools for Reading and Writing Stories 261
Nonfiction Applications of Digital Technology 308
Online Resources for Writing and Learning About Poetry 344
Keyboarding 397

Common Core State Standards

Language Arts Standards 45
Emergent Literacy 62
Personal Writing 108
Oral Language 136
Written Language 147
Visual Language 190
Vocabulary 226
Stories 259
Nonfiction 306
Poetry 317
Spelling 360
Grammar 384

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Current research identifies six language arts: reading, writing, listening, talking, viewing, and visually representing. Most textbooks cover only four. Language Arts: Patterns of Practice not only introduces the six language arts but also models their integration into the curriculum. Helping children and adolescents master all six language competencies and learn to communicate effectively in our culturally diverse, technologically changing society can seem like an overwhelming task for a new or even an experienced teacher. This text will help you fully understand how best to teach these language arts in kindergarten through eighth grade.

These six language arts can be meaningfully integrated into the curriculum through four instructional approaches, or patterns of practice. This text intricately weaves the teaching of the six language arts through four instructional approaches and, just like creating a quilt, you learn how to put the pieces together to form a complete whole.


Encouraging you as a teacher to actively engage your students in personally meaningful, functional activities, Language Arts: Patterns of Practice highlights the four well-respected instructional approaches best suited to integrating the six language arts. These are:

  • Literature focus units—students read and study a high-quality children's book together as a class.
  • Literature circles—students choose, read, and respond to a book in small groups.
  • Reading and writing workshops—students work independently to read self-selected books and use the, writing processto independently write books and other compositions.
  • Theme cycles—students use an integrated approach to engage in a content area study, such as a unit for social studies or science topics.

Throughout the chapters, the text illustrates how to use patterns of prac-

  1. Establish a community of learners
  2. Engage students in "real" children's literature
  3. Teach children the language arts strategies and skills that enable them to learn to communicate effectively
  4. Integrate the six language arts skills into classroom instruction by threading them through this entire text with discussions, examples, and specific features
  • New! Chapter opening vignettes begin new chapter discussions by describing how classroom teachers use one of the instructional approaches to develop students' language arts competencies associated specifically with the new chapter's content. These intimate looks at classrooms model masterful language arts teaching while offering a contextual understanding of how patterns of instructional practice actually work in real classrooms.
  • Colorful inserts in Chapter 2 provide detailed classroom examples of teachers in action, identifying procedures and processes for using each instructional approach. These colorful classroom glimpses illustrate how motivating and engaging each approach can be for students learning language arts.

Language Arts: Patterns of Practice also provides teachers with a seamless presentation of practical methods for developing and assessing specific strategies and skills.

  • Piecing a Lesson Together shows how to teach strategies and skills with detailed descriptions. These features list lesson topics to help teachers plan meaningful minilessons, illustrating fully realized minilessons, to demonstrate how classroom teachers follow certain sequences to teach skills. Additional minilessons accompany chapter modules on the text's Companion Website.
  • Weaning Assessment Into Practice features take readers into the classroom to witness the regular integration of assessment in masterful language arts teaching. Here are authentic artifacts and guidelines for assessing students' language arts learning and development.
  • Step by Step features in every chapter give teachers the tools they need to prepare and carry out specific instructional procedures for myriad research-based strategies. Providing detailed instructions, these features become a clear and precise map for teachers to use in their classrooms.
  • LA Essentials provide guidelines, lists, tools, and resources ready to take right into the classroom. These practical, informative teaching tips are foundational tools all teachers can refer to again and again as they teach.
  • Classroom Library features are another excellent tool for teachers, providing lists of books to use in teaching language arts, addressing the needs of different grades, different reading levels, and different topics.

Language Arts: Patterns of Practice grounds readers in real classroom teaching and learning. To feel comfortable and confident in teaching, you will need more than just an understanding of the language arts concepts and familiarity with the best teaching methods. You will need to be able to see yourself successfully teaching in a language arts classroom. The text's many examples from real classrooms model best practice and teacher decision-making.

  • Authentic student artifacts, the student samples from each of the four patterns of practice, found in almost every chapter, help preservice teachers learn what to expect from young readers and writers.
  • Seeing Common Threads allows readers to look more closely at issues important to elementary and middle school teachers, giving them an opportunity to apply what they're learning through questions provoking reflection and analysis. To encourage a dialogue on these issues, readers are encouraged to compare their thoughts with those of other preservice teachers online in our Companion Website's Threaded Message Board, available at
  • Meeting the Needs of Every Student features help prepare pre-service teachers for the diverse needs of today's students by providing ideas for adapting lessons to fit students' needs. This special feature contains explicit suggestions for scaffolding and modifying the learning experiences for students with special learning needs so they can be successful. Visit the Companion Website at for even more resources for adapting instruction to better suit the needs of all students.
  • NEW! Free CD-ROM will help you experience the effective instruction that takes place in classroom communities by analyzing video footage of master teachers who integrate minilessons and strategy and skill development in the use of writing workshops. Users can examine, re-examine, and manipulate genuine classroom footage to develop a deep and lasting understanding of these instructional approaches and the ways they are effectively carried out in classrooms.
    • Margin notes throughout the text integrate the CD footage and lessons with chapter content to better apply the reading.
    • New! A colorful insert in Chapter 10 walks you through using the CD to the fullest.
    • New! CD-ROM Activities on our Companion Website, found at help to deepen and solidify your understanding of research-based language arts teaching.

Helping students learn to communicate effectively is an ongoing challenge, especially given the cultural and linguistic diversity of today's classrooms and the swift changes in technological environments. For those of you who are preservice teachers, anxious to work with students from kindergarten through the eighth grade, you will find in Language Arts: Patterns of Practice consistent models of instruction to help you make those difficult decisions you may at first find overwhelming. For those of you who are experienced teachers, the text is infused with a rich array of strategies and ideas, adaptable to suit your personal instructional style and your students' individual needs.

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