Saturday, November 29, 2014

Between The Lions | Phonological Awareness

While reading on of my Reading Research books there was a small list of websites that teach.  This PBS website for the show Between the Lions contains information and activities for beginning reading with emphasis on phonological awareness and phonics.

You and your child will love it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Helping Your Struggling Reader From the Foundations Up | Phonemic Awareness

So you have a struggling reader?  You are not alone.  I am approached on a regular basis by parents of struggling readers who need help.  Their child is usually in 1st grade or higher and struggling with basic Kindergarten material.  The question that always runs through my head is...How is their phonemic awareness?  There are specific diagnostic tests for this that a Reading Specialist would use but you aren't here for testing, you are here for a jumping off point on how to help.  If your child, at any age is struggling it is important to go back to the basics.  I am going to be doing a running series on how to identify this weakness at home and what you can to do help.  So, I know you have questions and want answers that are simple and straight forward.  I'm hear to help.

What is Phonemic Awareness?

The answer is simple.  It's the ability to identify the smallest identifiable unit of sound (phoneme) of spoken language.  In other words, when you hear the word "sat" you can distinguish the sounds /s/, /a/, /t/ in that world.  Even if you didn't know the names of the those sounds (letter names) you can still identify the sounds themselves.

Why is Phonemic Awareness Important?

More than 52 peer reviewed experimental studies have indicated that helping a child master phonemic awareness skills when combined with teaching letter names (National Reading Panel [NPR] 2000) revealed significant positive benefits.

Phonemic Awareness enhances the outcomes in word recognition and spelling for all students.  Children with phonemic awareness training become better readers overall.    In addition, the [NPR] 2000 reports that phonemic awareness helps all students with disabilities, students with reading difficulties, very young students, and so on.  The skills can be taught in brief time frames each day.

Okay, So What Should Be Taught?

This is simple.  Segmenting (taking apart) words into phonemes and blending them back together contributes more to learning to read and spell well than any of the other phonological awareness skills. [NPR] 2000.

First grade students who lack phonemic awareness, or who read lower than 20 words per minute, should also be learning these skills.  This is in addition to phonics rules or other reading components typically focused on in that grade level.

Words can be divided into parts such as syllables, onset-rimes, or phonemes.

HUH?  What Onset-Rime?

Words that can be divided into onset-rime are one syllable words.  "Onset" refers to the consonant/s before a vowel and rime refers to the vowel and every sound that follows.  Below are a few examples.

  • In the word can, /c/ is the onset & /an/ is the rime.
  • In the word scratch, /scr/ is the onset & /atch/ is the rime 
Easy right?  Of course the longer the word, the hard this becomes but with struggling readers it should be kept simple.  These skills should be kept simple and focused for about a week at the phoneme level.

This type of segmenting at the onset-rime level is considered a warm up skill and should be shifted to quickly to smaller unites as quickly as possible.

Okay, now that we've cleared that up.  Let's talk about how you can help your child.

How Do I Know If I Should Teach Phonemic Awareness At Home?

First ask yourself...

  • Does my child need phonemic awareness instruction?
  • What phonemic awareness instruction would my child benefit from?
  • How much time should I spend teaching phonemic awareness?
If you aren't sure yet how to answer these questions, let me be your guide.

Does your child need phonemic awareness instruction?  
  • Is your child struggling with reading?
  • Is your child in Kindergarten or First Grade?
  • Is your child in First Grade and reading a grade behind?
  • Is your child  in any grade above First Grade and stuck at a First Grade Level?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then your child would benefit greatly from Phonemic Awareness Instruction at home.

What phonemic awareness instruction would my child benefit from?

There are several ways to approach this question.  One, you can simply as your child's teacher if any phonemic awareness assessments have been done and ask what the results indicated?  The answer should be one or all of three answers, your child could need help with....
  • deleting (taking out sounds in words)
  • segmenting (pulling apart sounds in words)
  • blending (putting together sounds in word)
There are 4 very common assessments that can be administered by any teacher.  If you are having difficulty getting these answers from your child's teacher try harder or you can move forward on your own and start at the beginning.  You will eventually, if not right away, hit bumps in the activities that will give you a good clue as to whither to move on or keep working.

If you aren't sure were to start it helps knowing that the two most important aspects of phonemic awareness are segmenting and blending....pulling apart and putting back together.

Okay, I Want To Get Started.  Where Do I Begin?

First, let's establish some very important foundational guidelines.  The instruction you provide should be systematic and explicit.  Meaning, the methods of instruction should not vary and you should be clear with your instructions.  The instruction should be obvious, visible, and with goals that anyone listening could understand.  Lessons should be highly focused and well sequenced.

Allow time to model the activities, time for your child to respond, and time to reflect on how and when to move forward.

You should consider allowing your child opportunities to write the letters that represent the sounds that are heard.  It is important for children to be able to transfer their phonemic awareness skills to reading and spelling as they move along by writing.  Reading and writing go hand in hand, always.

What do I need to get started?

There are a couple of things you will need handy for sure.

  • Word Lists (click here)
  • chips, tiles, or fingers to help track syllables 
  • Printable Phonemic Awareness Activities
I will be publishing 9 different activities for download that will be linked below.  Start with the first and work your way to the last with your child.  If additional materials are needed they will be mentioned in the activity list.  Since phonemic awareness has more to do with listening to sounds there are not many materials needed at all.  Some of these activities can even be practiced on the go.  

Phonemic Awareness Activities:

(activities available beginning after 11/25)

Deleting Syllables
Jumping Syllables
Elkonin Boxes
M&M Phonemes
What Did I Say?
Do The Phoneme Shuffle
Smiley Face Phonemes
Which Word is Different?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Homeschooling.....On the Lap

I am a mom of 6 children, who also happens to homeschool.  Changes came in 2010 when our 6th child was born and we've had to make many adjustments to our homeschooling schedule.  At the end of last year I sat down and wondered what I could do to make our day more productive, and yet still give my very needy 1 year old the attention she craves.  That's when I made the decision to start homeschooling on the lap.  I've veered toward a literature based curriculum and we sit on the couch and read our way through literature, history, science, and whatever else we want to learn about. That way my 1 year old can sit on my lap and feel like she has some sort of attention from me.  Of course we still do workbooks for Language/English and Math :).

All this to say, children need to be read matter what their age.  My older girls are 8 & 9 and they still look forward to it every morning.  They write out vocabulary words they need to learn, details they find interesting, etc., which helps with comprehension.  My younger ones just love being able to hear a story and have someone read to them.  It is also building their vocabulary and you'd be amazed at what little children retain.

I'm going to try to do book reviews of what we read through.  Many of our books can be found at the library, which happens to be our second home. :)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Club Tips and Ideas

Summer is coming to a close soon but the book club ideas are for anytime.  Visit Dinner: A Love Story for some good ideas, tips and tricks for getting your little ones to read and share.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reading Logs aren't just for summer

Simple As That has a beautiful example and free printables for a reading log.
This beautiful reading log could be used year round.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where reading begins...

Reading begins with wonder at the world about us.  It starts with the recognition of repeated events like thunder, lightening and rain.  Reading is the practical management of the world about us.    It was this for man when standing at the cave's mouth.  It is this for us at the desk, the benches or computer.  You are dealing with the signs of the thing represented.  It is quite conceivable that a true non-reader can only survive in a mental hospital.  So, when you hear the words "anyone can read" you may already consider that anyone already is.

In years before the printing press, the owner of the book was the possessor of strong magic and so was respected, or feared, which amounted to the same thing.  In more recent centuries since the printing press the teaching of reading was begun as a sort of matching game in which the child was trained to fit appropriate symbols together, with the letters and building up to the words or sentences.  Books were not to be mulled over, studied or struggled with.  The teaching of the alphabet might still be a key to the library's treasure, it was a shining, inviting instrument, promised joys to children, pride to parents and the words riches for the whole community. 

As Dr. La Brant said., "It would be absurd to think that the methods and purposes in the teaching and the learning of reading have not also changed with our world."  Our children are living on a planet that differs from  the one we knew.  The end product of our new world is the picture magazine or website that puts almost no strain upon the literacy of its reader and the tabloid newspaper that reduces current events to slogans,  nicknames and exclamations.  But reading, remember, is not restricted to the printed page.  Actually it never was.  In one sense reading is the art of transmitting the ideas, facts and feelings from the mind and the soul of the author to the mind and soul of the reader, with accuracy and understanding, and much more.

It was only when man invented symbols for the words in his mouth and the ideas in his brain brain that other kinds of reading became useful, possible or desirable.  Word magic is one of man's most wonderful and most dangerous tools.  It builds air castles, raises an army of dragon men, fixes a name on a star and sends human blood running through dirty gutters.  Men wanted to know things and facts and if the book could instruct them, they would read.  The kind of power that is respected and sought was the kind that move and made things and the knowledge of this power eminently democratic.

The teaching of reading should begin as early as possible, never sooner.  The child who has been prepared shows it by a willingness, an eagerness to learn.  Parents have more and more relinquished their own peculiar responsibilities towards preparing their children for what they want and expect.  We consume a mountain of print before we die, for amusement, for escape, for enlightenment and for living.  We have a gadget that pushes the child's nose down a page at the prescribed rate and another that whips his eyes back and for with the speed of a a sidewinders tail.  All we lack is a pill to make him want to read.