Whole Language: Getting Started Moving Forward

by Linda Crafton (1991, Richard C. Owen. ISBN 0-913461-19-9) Professional Book.
This review by Carol Otis Hurst first appeared in Teaching K-8 Magazine.



Whole Language: Getting Started Moving Forward by Linda Crafton is a book for you if you're just getting started in whole language. In a clear and engaging style, she examines and explains the philosophy from the ground up, but she includes the specifics: how do you set up the first day of first grade. What happens to whole language in the upper grades? Does it have application to high school learners? Always, she tells why not just what. Her appendices are almost as important as the body of her text. There she supplies reading lists that are intended to serve as the basis of sets of books in your classroom.

Crafton's book is full of good ideas to elicit response from students. I've used her exit slip technique with adult learners as well as with children and it's an excellent reflective strategy to put responsibility on the listener as well as the conductor of the lesson. Here are her exit slip directions:

"1. Following the initial demonstrations and at the end of a school day, or any important learning activity, distribute one 3 x 5 card to each student.

2. Ask students to write one thing they learned during the day, or from a particular activity, on one side of the card. On the other side students are to write one question they still have. Present this part of the strategy in an open-ended manner so students are free to consider content or process issues in their responses.

3. Collect the cards for review.

4. Select several questions to use in a whole group setting the following morning or during the class meeting. Questions can be answered directly by the teacher, orally or by writing on the card, or students can be invited to respond. Selected questions can be put aside for future study or be used to inform the teacher about topics for Mini-lessons.


1. Exit Slips can be used throughout the reading of a text, much like a written Say Something. The first part of the strategy, then, serves as a reflection of what has been learned; the second part, a reader-generated question.

2. Rapid Reflection is a verbal form of Exit Slips. Throughout the school day -- at the end of important discussions, demonstrations, Mini-lessons, or any learning engagement -- students can be asked to reflect on the experience quickly and, at random, call out a response.

Responses can be focused by asking open-ended questions before Rapid Reflection begins:

What was surprising for you?
What were you thinking about the most?
What was one question that you have?
What is one idea you are excited about?"