Supporting PhonemicAwareness in the Classroom Kristen Swanson, August 2012
Mrs. Swanson’s Literacy BlocksGRADE: 4, mixed ability groupLESSON BLOCK LENGTH: 90 minute literacy block plus 25 minute RTI block to assess specific areas of concern andallow students above grade level to work on a challenge project.MY STUDENT POPULATION: As a grade 4 teacher, I do see students with little to no phonemic awareness on rareoccasions. Most of the students with difficulty in reading have already been tested for special education and are on anIEP, have been identified by a grade 3 teacher and are in the process of testing, or receive services from the speech andlanguage specialist. Our growing English Language Learner population is also impacting the increase in studentscoming to fourth grade without many of the basic reading foundations, such as phonemic awareness .Our school does math fluency and comprehension and reading fluency and comprehension screenings during the firstweek of school. Any students not previously identified who do not score average on the screenings will be picked upfor RTI ( Response to Intervention). I plan on adding more specific phonemic awareness screenings to my classroomassessments this coming year.
Phonemic Awareness and ELLWhen preparing for my MTEL in Reading, I had studied many of the aspects of the fundamentals of reading on myown., therefore had a basic understanding of Phonemic Awareness and its importance in the younger grades. I neverhad true coursework in my undergraduate work due to the fact that I was a secondary education concentration inliterature and the humanities. I strongly believe that ALL teachers, secondary included, should get the basic educationin the 5 essential components of reading. Although I had some understanding of Phonemic Awareness, the articles insession one helped me to build a more complete picture of WHY it is essential to have these skills.However, the one article that was most beneficial to my teaching in this session was the optional reading by BethAntunez, “English Language Learners and the Five Essential Components of Reading Instruction.” As a teacher ofmany ELL’s and very little support for this population, I appreciate the recommendations for instruction of this veryspecial student population. The difficulty for me lies in the students who do not have a native language similar toEnglish, specifically my native Asian and Middle Eastern students. It was helpful to read that I can use meaningfulvocabulary and activities to help these students access the fourth grade curriculum across the content areas AND helpthem with their basic skills. I have had some success with these populations in past, but I do believe these successeswere quite accidental. Now, from strategies and confirmation in this article, I can instruct my ELL students much moresuccessfully.
Fourth Grade Appropriate Phonemic Awareness Activities “Supporting phonemic awareness development in the classroom: Playful and appealing activities that focus on the sound structure of language support literacy development.” by Hallie Kay and Ruth Helen Yopp.Poetry Unit – All students study the reading and writing of poetry for four weeks in my integrated literacy classroom. Rhyming activities, including a variation of Twenty Kids Have Hats, with more advanced picture books during Shared Reading time help support the unit goals and phonemic awareness in the classroom. Syllable manipulation activities, starting with How Many Syllables in a Name and moving to into reading and writing Haiku with clapping out the poem’s sounds of 5-7-5. RTI (Response to Intervention) Block – Every day we have a 25 minute block to help support our students in their struggling areas, or provide the opportunities for students who excel to complete an I-Project. I could see using some of the phoneme manipulation activities with my students who struggle, specifically Find Your Partners because it is kinesthetic as well as the Scavenger Hunt. The block is short, and wedged between two heavy academic subjects, math and social studies. Allowing the kids to get up and move, and meaningfully work on these skills without even knowing it is a perfect way to spend this block.
Audio Recording Practice: Cinch Cinch.fm/swansonk/phonemes We used the Cinch technology to practice audio recording/blogging. While at first this was a daunting task, morebecause I do not enjoy listening to the sound of my voice than manipulating the technology, the Cinch Applicationwas quite beneficial to learn. I was planning on using it often in my classroom to help my students with theirreading skills, including word attack, rate, and expression. This technology will support modeling and practice ofcorrect phonemic awareness. However, I will now need to use a new technology as Cinch is not going tocontinue. I WILL use a similar type of audio technology this year during my reading block, once I find anotheruser friendly technology, which I know there are several of.
Cooper’s Pre-AssessmentI gave Cooper, a 9.2 year old boy with degenerative hearing loss in both ears, the DIBELS Older Student Pre-Assessment. Cooper was an average 3rd grade reader in his previous school year, but teachers often question how his hearing loss will impact his speech and reading in the coming and more difficult grades. Following is the link to listen to Cooper’s Pre-Assessment: Cinch.fm/kswansonk/cooper
Cooper’s Analysis DIBELS Older Student Pre- Assessment Cooper received a 71 of 77 in Task One: Sound Segmentation and a 4/4 in Task Two: Substitution. I would have liked to complete Task 3: Oral Reading Fluency to get a more well-rounded result that went beyond words in isolation. As I am his mother, I wondered what, if any, impact that would have on his testing. I also was unsure of his comfort level of being recorded. Neither seemed to have a negative impact on his pre-assessment. I did have to repeat items a few times, which is one of his accommodations on his 504, but with the repetition, his pre- assessment demonstrated a student with average phonemic awareness. The substitution task was easier for Cooper with a 4/4. I believe if he were to be asked to complete a larger number of substitutions that were even more complex, he would succeed in this area. I also did a Reading A-Z Fluency Passage at the beginning 4th grade level, two weeks after this initial assessment. His accuracy was 100%, indicating to me that his phonemic awareness, as well as decoding skills are in tact, despite his hearing impairment. While I do not think his score of 71 of 77 would indicate a true weakness, the task of segmentation proved to be more difficult. His initial sounds, onset, were fine, but he blended sounds, particularly at the ends of words (/d//z/ in words /v//z/ in moves and /k//s// in tricks). Cooper did also add the long /e/ in have. This may be, after some discussion, because he is a visual learner and was spelling the word aloud in his head instead of focusing on the sounds. I chose to focus on segmentation and syllabication strategies with Cooper to further consider if these were in fact areas of weakness.
Grade 4 Classroom StrategiesAs Cooper is a student entering grade 4, and an average reader, I was able to try out several activities for my own grade 4 classroom starting in the fall. Many of these activities will be completed individually or through small group instruction during my literacy and/or RTI blocks for those students who need the extra support, either guided by their IEP or ELL goals, or to jump start those who fall right below the line in reading based on universal screening. The activities will vary by student based on the needs of the individuals. All strategies and activities used will strive to be meaningful to my students’ learning, as stated in the earlier cited article by Beth Antunez. I have many manipulatives in my classroom , individual white boards and markers, several computers with sites listed through my portal, letter and prefix magnets, letter stamps, and many other fun ways for my students to play with language, which in the end will best help them develop to become better readers with a strong sense of phonemic awareness. Segmentation Activities: Sitting either with an individual or with a small group, give each student 10 blocks, Legos, bingo counters, unifex cubes or whatever is on hand. Recite from the “Most Frequently Used Word” list for Grade 4, spelling, or content words to the group. The students will then slide or place the blocks forward as they sound out each phoneme in the word. Discuss how students segmented the words, especially if not all students did so correctly. Elkonin Boxes is another small group or individual activity I will use in my classroom to support decoding and spelling, particularly with my English Language Learners.. I would likely use the variation from www.readingrockets.org/strategies/elkonin_boxes/?theme with the writing template. Syllabication Activities: Students can complete several of the syllabication activities I looked at from Scholastic’s Teaching Phonics & Word Study in the Intermediate Grades. My favorite to introduce new vocabulary using the Syllable Scoop. This works with content area vocabulary, words from our class readings, or even spelling words. As my school is adopting The Daily Five as part of our reading curriculum, these activities fit perfectly in the word and spelling time. For students with more difficulty, I would continue the study with Multisyllabic Words Manipulation, again, using meaningful words to help with open and closed syllables, spelling, and understanding of prefix, suffix, and root words. Speed drills are useful for further assessing students’ understanding of syllabication. Finally, by April, during my poetry unit, the students will have a solid schema of syllables to identify and create certain types of poetry such as Haiku.
Strategies, continued. Final Sounds/Rhyming: Students in Fourth grade either get rhyming, or not. This makes my poetry unit in April VERY frustrating for some children. Therefore, I will use some of the strategies discussed in the Yopp article, although they are geared toward younger students. I would read the book, Ten Cats Have Hats by Jean Marzollo to work on focusing on rhyming sounds as we read and making predictions in reading. I have created several I Have, Who Has card games with rhyming sounds. This very quick early morning warm up is a favorite whole class activity, sometimes we do power speed rounds to beat our own timing.. There are also several websites out there to support rhyming development. Students have access to my computers during individual work time, when I take my small groups, and during RTI. Frog’s Rhyming Machine, several on Quia.com, Scholastic.com, Onlinemathlearning.com, and many others are available and free for students to play individually. Many of my students also use Study Island, which has fantastic rhyming games, but only my students on IEPs have access to this site. Initial Sounds/Alliteration: I always do several mini lessons using picture books to teach the idea of alliteration, where the initial sounds are the same. Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier is a favorite of my students. I am able to use this book for many different mini lessons and my students do not mind reading it over and over to examine different strategies. Some Small Slug by Pamela Duncan Edwards is a silly story that seduces my students’ sense of alliteration. Small group activities, and part of my Daily Five is Read to Someone, I have cards with tongue twisters using alliteration in this reading area for my students to practice. Again, Quia, Scholastic, and several sites are available to my students to work on alliteration individually. I teach my mini lessons and encourage small group and individual practice well before trying to use the concept later on in their writing of poetry using the skill of alliteration. The final initial sound activity I would use in whole group is initial sound substitution using the book Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein to develop a sense of play with language, also during my poetry unit.
Reflections: The Importance of Phonemic Awareness InstructionAs a fourth grade teacher who had taught only in the upper grades in my 19 years of teaching, I learned so much about the most basic component of reading, phonemic awareness through this seven week class. I always knew phonemic awareness was there, and that my students were required to have it before they got to me,. However, I had never really understood that I was already in fact teaching many of the strategies to help my students with their phonemic awareness. When I reflect back to creating the strategy slides I realized that I already had so many tools in my classroom and was using them, quite accidentally.The assessment of students is a key point that I will take immediately to my classroom the first week of school. As we do not have universal screening of phonemic awareness in my intermediate level school, I will be using the Dibels Pre-Assessment for Older Students with all my students before completing their fluency and comprehension passages.I also took away from this course so many different activities to activate my students’ learning and play with language during our RTI time. This is such a short time of the day that the activities need to be quick and with little guidance so I am able to work with my small intervention groups. This course was most beneficial for me!
Common Core StandardsThe Foundational Reading Skills in Phonological Awareness generally fall under the Pre-K to 1 grade levels, however, students are expected to build their competence in these areas in the subsequent grades.K: MA.2. 2.a. Recognize and produce rhyming words.Grade 1: MA.2.2.a. Distinguish long from short vowel sounds.MA2.2.c.Isolate and pronounce initial, medial vowel, and final sounds.MA2.2.d.Segment spoken words into their complete sequence of individual sounds.Grade 4: MA.3..3.a Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology.
Classroom TechnologyAs seen on a few previous slides, I plan on using several tools to model, instruct, enforce, enrich, and assess my students in phonemic awareness. I currently have six computers in my classroom, an interactive smart board and access to a full class laptop cart.Podcasts: to model and allow for self-practice and reflection of phonemic skills and fluencyRead Naturally: Allows for fluency, vocabulary, comprehension skills. Students are able to work independently during small/guided instructional time.Quia: These fun games will allow my students to compete with one another. All can be completed during independent work or RTI time. Pigs Perfect Pizza and Frog’s Rhyming Machine both would fit beautifully in our study of alliteration and rhyme in poetry.Study Island: While this license only site encompasses all content areas, there are several targeted games directly focused on phonemic awareness for the 3 rd to 5th grades.EZ Teach: Interactive Smart Board technology can further enhance podcasts, and is more fun for students to play up at the whiteboard with projected onset and rime tiles, letter tiles.
Graduate Credit WorkMA in Children’s Literature, Simmons CollegeOther Coursework:NDSU: Differentiated Instruction: How to Teach to Varying Ability Levels, Engaging Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles in Your Classroom, Professional Learning Communities: From Learning to Doing, Building Successful Readers in All Content Areas, Teach Well, Learn Well: RTI, Follow the Leader: What Great Teacher Leaders DoLesley University: The Teaching of Writing K-8, Philosophical and Cultural Models in Education