Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fun with Phonemic Awareness

This week's summer linky topic is "Fun with Phonemic Awareness and Phonics". Since I've found there is a lot of confusion about what phonemic awareness is, I thought I'd write about that.

So, what is phonemic awareness (PA) ?
Phonemic awareness is the umbrella term used to describe the ability to think about, identify and manipulate parts of words (phonemes, syllables, onsets/rimes). Also included is the ability to recognize and produce words that rhyme.
Phoneme and phonemic awareness are interchangeable terms.

Why build children's PA skills?
PA predicts later outcomes in reading and spelling.
The majority of poor readers have some difficulty with PA and other phonological skills.
Instruction in PA is beneficial for beginning readers and spellers.
PA lays the foundation to oral language and vocabulary development.

Is There a Sequence of PA Skills?
Here is a basic progression phonological skills in order from the most basic to the most advanced:
*Word awareness-tracking words in sentences, repeating a sentence, counting/clapping words in a a sentence, knowing first/last word
*Syllable awareness-counting, tapping, blending or segmenting a word into syllables
*Onset and rime manipulation-ability to produce a rhyming word depends on understanding that rhyming words often have the same rime (word part). An example of this is "bat" and "cat" both end with "-at" (that's the rime). Recognizing this is MUCH easier than producing a rhyme. 
*Identify and match the initial sounds in words, then the final and medial sounds.
*Segment and produce the initial sound, then the final and medial sounds.
*Blend sounds into words.
*Segment the phonemes in two-or-three-sound words, moving to four-and five-sound words.
*Manipulate phonemes by deleting, adding or substituting sounds.

What do all these have in common? Children are HEARING sounds/changes. They are not required to write words or see words in print. Once a letter is attached to a sound, it becomes PHONICS instruction.

Too many times (in my early years of teaching, I was guilty as well), teachers skip over phonemic awareness skill building activities, thinking their students already know them. I can tell you, from lots of experience (and data collected from testing), phonemic awareness is an area of weakness for ALL of my Title I students (as well as among "average" students). 

Check out this site: 
It has SO much great information about young readers. The image above is directly linked to one of many informational articles on PA.

Below, you can find FREE fun, super simple and effective ideas to try in your classroom to help build your students' phonemic awareness. Other than printing a copy for yourself, no other major prep work is needed.
Click here for FREE PA task cards: 

Just print and use these cards to help you with on-the-spot PA activities to use with your students. They can be used anytime/anywhere (waiting in line, during morning meeting, etc.). Print on card stock and keep on a ring.
On each card, you will see the average age when students should acquire each skill. These are not hard and fast ages, only approximations. Students who are more advanced can definitely benefit from practice with easier PA skills, but a harder skill WILL frustrate a child who has weak PA skills. Choose carefully. Hope you enjoy! 
Join the linky party below.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Blog Party Kick Off Hop

Thanks for hopping by. We all know children can slide over the summer. And, I don't mean the fun kind of sliding. As teachers and parents, we want our children to retain (and even improve upon) what they've learned in the past school year. Here, I have a fun tried and true way of boosting your child's reading fluency. I hope you learn a helpful tip today, and don't forget to click on the button at the end of the post to hop on over to the next post (with another tip plus a freebie). 

Fluency Fun!!!

Fluency plays a huge role in becoming an effective reader. It connects decoding to comprehension, and it has several components. According to Timothy Rasinki (a fluency guru), fluency includes automatically and accurately decoding words. This leads to greater comprehension. When children get bogged down with trying to decode words, their rate of reading slows down and they concentrate on decoding rather than comprehending what is read. 
In addition, fluency includes reading in phrasing (or chunks), like we talk. Prosody should be used as well. This means the reader is using appropriate rate as well as expression. 
So, in a nutshell...
Fluency=the ability to read with expression and meaning+accurate/quick decoding+appropriate rate/speed
When a reader reads fluently, comprehension can be greatly increased.
So, how do children become fluent readers? The answer is easy!
They need lots of practice reading easy texts with a high rate of repetition. Sound boring???? Not when you use poems and songs! 

I've used these for years, and my first graders would always beg to read/sing them. Here are a few ways you can use poems/songs in your classroom (or home) to build fluency, following a suggested schedule.

  • Monday:Write a poem/song on large chart paper (or smartboard) and introduce it to your class. Read it to your class during morning meeting. Words can be circled/highlighted. 
  • Tuesday: Display the poem/song again. Read it to your class. Then, use choral reading (everyone reads) to reread it. Find/highlight various sight words.
  • Wednedsay: Read the poem again. Use any of the following ideas (sing it, chant it, exercise to it, make up a slap/clap rhythm while reading, use different voices to read circled/highlighted words, etc.).
  • Thursday: Students receive their own copy of the song/poem to place in their poetry/song folder or book. This collection will grow throughout the year and become a great fluency resource they will use time and time again! 
  • Friday: Fluency Fun-students are partnered up to reread the week's poem/song. They practice it many ways (as the class practiced during the week). They may also choose to reread some favorites after practicing the week's poem/song. Call on a few partners to present the song/poem to the class. Some may exercise to it, chant it, use a monster or opera voice while reading/singing it.
Other ideas include:
  • Make a poetry/song packet. Present a few themed songs/poems to students in stapled packets. Introduce/read one each day. Students keep these in their independent reading boxes or bags.  These, and the other books in students' reading bags/boxes easily replace those morning worksheets. You will thank me a million times over when you do not have to deal with preparing/checking them anymore! 
  • Use the poetry packets or folders in place of morning work. There is nothing to check and the students LOVE this (while building fluency).
  • When students finish early, they get their poems/songs.
I've included a camping-themed song packet for your to use with your child/class. Just click on the link below to get this FREE resource. Enjoy! 

Don't forget to click on Erin's wonderful blog at Mrs. Beer's Language Arts Class below to continue to the next stop on the blog hop. 

Keep on hopping! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Change is VERY Good!

Change Is Good! Last school year, I accepted a reading specialist position in the same school where I taught first grade for the past 13 years. I wanted this position for quite some time, but I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about interviewing for it. My inner voice went crazy with "what ifs", but I went for the position anyway. 

I just finished up my first year as a reading specialist, and I am SO glad I made the change. Every day has been (and continues to be a new adventure), but I love it. So, if you are contemplating a change, don't be afraid! 

Other than that major life change, some minor changes happened as well. The blog name changed to "That Literacy Blog". I also joined a literacy group called "The Reading Crew", and I decided to begin blogging again, beginning with a Summer Kick-off Blog Hop that will begin on June 19th and will last until June 21st. So, be sure to follow the link at the end of this post to visit another literacy-centered blog with great tips to prevent summer slide. You will then hop to more literacy blogs, each with great tips to prevent summer slide, a  chance to win a $25 TPT gift certificate and many FREE literacy resources! Be sure to check back and join the hop.