Supporting PhonemicAwareness in the ClassroomCarol Alter - Final Project - April 2013
Final Project DirectionsAs a final project, you will develop plans for teaching phonemic awareness in yourclassroom, including plans for assessment procedures, analysis, and activities. This finalproject template will also include one example of a phonemic awareness assessment andanalysis on a student.Your plans should incorporate at least one of the technology tools explored in this courseand include details for other types of phonemic awareness strengthening activities.Complete this template as the course progresses. This template is due to your facilitatorat the end of Session Six. At that time, your facilitator will review your final project andprovide feedback for you in the Notes section.
Part I: General Information(Session One)GRADE:Pre-KindergartenLESSON BLOCK LENGTH:15 – 20 minutesIs Phonemic Awareness currently being addressed in your classroom? If so, how? If you are not currently teaching in a classroom, please fill outthis template as if you are teaching in the classroom of your choice.Listening Games – Give children experience in active listening before introducing letter sounds or words and oral play.Lively Letters Curriculum – Rather than learning letter names first and then the sounds, students are initially taughtonly letter sounds using Lively Letter lower case cards, which include visual cues of the oral kinesthetic features of thesounds.Rhyming - rhyming is heard and practiced using books, songs, and word games.
Part II: Phonemic Awareness(Session One) My reflections are on the article, “The Importance of Phonemic Awareness in learning to Read,” by Wesley A. Hoover. Even after years of teaching this has been an areathat has seemed confusing. I appreciated all the definitions of phonemic awareness, phonics, phonetics, phonology, and phonological awareness. I have wondered if I waspreparing Pre-K children sufficiently in the area of phonemic awareness or had too much phonics involved. I think I finally have a better grasp of the meaning of whatphonemic awareness is and why it is so important in learning to read. Phonemic awareness is not a necessary skill for learning to speak a language, but it is necessary for reading in a language that uses an alphabetic writing system. It isinteresting that in spoken language babies begin by unconsciously making single sounds and then we are ecstatic when one day they merge two sounds together to comeup with their first actual word, such as “Mama.” And we keep encouraging them to blend more sounds to create even more meaningful language. They progress fromindividual phonemes to words. When it is time for a child to learn to read and write (in a culture that uses an alphabetic written language), a child must understand the reverse process, which is thatwords are made up of combinations of individual phonemes. As the article says we ask children to go from meaning to form. Before beginning that reading/writingprocess children must be able to hear and be conscious of those individual phonemes and be able to manipulate them. I feel that what I had been doing in the past, using Fundations materials and teaching from A-Z with a rote memorization for each letter (“A”-apple - / /), was more ofăphonics training as opposed to phonemic awareness. I think that using Lively Letters is more in keeping with the phonemic awareness approach of learning phonemes firstwith the use of the letter cards, but without the letter names. Ultimately, according to Hoover, phonemic awareness must be combined with letter knowledge and anunderstanding of the alphabetic principle in order for a child to decode print. The article indicates that there is a correlation between phonemic awareness training and reading skill. Therefore phonemic awareness instruction must be intentional.Hoover notes that because of the abstractness of phonemes, this will be a difficult skill for some children to develop. This encourages me to be more intentional, to give asmuch extra help as possible to those children who struggle with the abstractness and don’t seem to be able to isolate phonemes or recognize rhyme.
Part III: Linguistic Components(Session Two)From the Yopp article, which activities look promising and intriguing? Which ones might be easiest to incorporate into your current curriculum?Which activities, before assessing your students, do you think would benefit your classroom most?I think that all of the activities look promising and intriguing! I do thematic units, so I can see where many would fit in with differentthemes. I always read Cock-a-doodle-moo during our Farm unit in the fall. The children think it is so funny because of all the phonemesubstitutions! I can see bringing it back now to do the activity having children substitute the initial sound and incorporating the letternames too. Now that we have learned most of the alphabet sounds using Lively Letters, I would like to try the scavenger hunt. I would use the LivelyLetter cards for each bag or box. It is similar to our own Show & Share time when children bring in an item that begins with thesound/letter of that week. But by doing the scavenger hunt, I would know that the children (and not their parents) were picking out theitems beginning with the correct phoneme! I think the children would enjoy The Hungry Thing story also because of the fun way the nonsense words sound! I love the idea of usingthe props (lunch bag and yogurt, etc.) to keep the children engaged in listening and thinking of the rhyming foods. We have enough playfood in our kitchen center for each child to have a different kind of food in their own paper bag with which to retell the story and createrhymes. Since Snack and Lunch times are huge social events anyway, this would be a great activity to carry over to the food they have intheir actual lunch bags! I can see this becoming an ongoing activity! I think these activities would be beneficial before doing the rhymingassessment.
Part IV: Audio Recording Practice(Session Two)Share your audio recording here:Directions: 1. Click on Insert 2. Click on Audio 3. Choose Audio from File 4. Find your audio recording from your files and double click5. Drag the speaker icon directly on page below these directions.Reflect on this practice. How do you imagine audio recordings will help you teach and your students learn about phonemic awareness?Children love to see and hear themselves! One morning this week a whole group of girls started singing together while drawing and coloring ata table! It was completely spontaneous and they sounded amazing! I grabbed my laptop and opened Audacity and started recordingthem! They didn’t know what I was doing. When they heard their own singing played back they were excited! Children will be excitedand eager to participate in activities that include sound recordings of their own voices.This would also be a way for children to hear themselves as they articulate phonemes. Recordings could be used while practicing phonemes andrhymes, etc. For example, I could say a phoneme and have them echo me. We could play the recording back to see if their phonemesounded like mine or not. They could use record themselves clapping while segmenting words in sentences and syllables in their names.
Part V: Student Assessment(Session Three)Which assessment will you be using on your student?Stratford Foundation Phonemic Awareness Assessment Tools:Rhyme: Recognizing RhymeBeginning Sounds: Phoneme IsolationBeginning Sounds: Phoneme MatchingInsert the recording of your audio-recorded assessment with a student here. Follow directions from part IV
Part VI: Analysis(Session Three)After completing an assessment on a student or small child, you will reflect on their scores using the appropriate worksheet. What stands out to you most? The results of theassessment show me that Boaz is strong in the beginning phonemic awareness skills. I would like to give Boaz some blending andsegmenting activities and then administer the Yopp-Singer Test of Phoneme Segmentation. The Stratford assessment was an easy toolto use. The directions are clear. I think that using the thumbs up or down action for rhyming words is a wonderful idea for the Pre-K age.This is definitely a tool I would like to use with every child in my class. Reflect on the areas of student strength. Boaz did very wellon all three sections. He listened very intently and was focused. He answered verbally or with the thumbs up/down very quickly on therhyming and phoneme isolation assessments. He answered more slowly on the phoneme matching assessment because he wasthoughtfully reviewing the three words and their initial sounds before answering. Reflect on the areas of student weakness. Boaz madecouple of mistakes. During the instructions for the phoneme isolation assessment he gave a letter name when asked for a sound. I findthis to be a common error among Pre-K children. Many children know the letter names and the sounds, so they mix them up when askedfor one or the other. The other mistake was during the phoneme matching assessment when Boaz named 2 words in the set that endedwith the same sound instead of the 2 words that began with the same sound.
Part VII: Strategies(Session Four)I have realized during this last month that I have not spent very much time on the skills of segmenting words in a sentence or the higher skill of segmenting syllables. My questionsare as follows. How can I be sure that the children are aware of separate words in sentences? And how can I help them become aware of syllables in words? I’ve chosenthe following activities to help develop those two phonemic awareness skills. WORD COUNTING This activity comes from the article by Edelen-Smith, P.J. (November, 1997). How Now Brown Cow: Phoneme Awareness Activities forCollaborative Classrooms. Intervention in School and Clinic, Volume 33, Number 2, pp. 103-111. Objective The student will count the number of words in a sentence. Materials: Markers orBingo Chips or Blocks Group Size: Individual or Small Group Since most of my students are just beginning to read, I will read a sentence to them. I will ask them to place a marker or bingo chip or block in a line from left to right foreach word that I read. I will repeat the sentence and ask the children to point to each marker/chip as I read the words. Or I will show them the written sentence and pointto each word as I read it. As I point to each word, the child will point to their markers. This will show the one-to-one correspondence between the words and theirmarkers. COUNTING SYLLABLES IN NAMES This activity is a combination of the “How Now Brown Cow” article and the Clapping Names game from Phonemic Awareness inYoung Children, Adams, Foorman, Lundberg, Beeler, 1998. Objective The students will clap and count the syllables in their name Group Size:Individual, Small or Whole Group Model for the children how to say a child’s name and clap out the syllables. Clap and say the names of each child in the group. Then give them the opportunity to say andclap their own names. Use squares of colored paper in a pocket chart to correspond with each syllable as a visual cue. Then you can ask the child “How manysyllables/claps did you hear?”
Part VII: Strategies, cont.(Session Four) Extensions: 1) This activity can be extended by clapping first and last names and counting the syllables. 2) It can also be extended by playing it as the NAME GAME as described on the website www.phonologicalawareness .org, click on Activities and then click on SegmentWords into Syllables. “Write all of the children’s names on index cards and place in a basket. Sit in a circle and pass the basket from one child to the next when the music begins. When themusic stops, whoever is holding the basket pulls out a card and reads the child’s name on the card. The class repeats the name claps out the number of syllables or parts asthey say the name (e.g. Mor-gan has 2 claps, Em-i-ly has 3.) Continue with the music until all names have been pulled from the basket.” PICTURE PUZZLE BLENDING - This lesson is from fcrr.org, K-1 Activities, Phonological Awareness, Part Two-Syllables – Segmenting and Blending PA.024.Objective The student will segment and blend syllables in words.Materials Syllable puzzles (Activity Master PA.024.AM1a-PA.024.AM1c) - Copy on card stock, color, cut, and laminate the pieces. ,Blank syllable puzzle student sheet (Activity Master PA.024.SS)Markers or crayons Place syllable puzzles and markers at the center. Provide each student with a student sheet. Working in pairs,students match puzzle pieces to make pictures, name the pictures, and clap the syllables. Extension: Choose other two syllable words and make syllable puzzles by drawing pictures on the student sheet. Cut puzzles ondotted lines, exchange with partner, and assemble to make pictures. Name the pictures and clap the syllables. Teacher Evaluation
Part VIII: Common Core Standards(Session Four)Please list all relevant Common Core Standards here, as well as any of your state’s relevant Proposed Additional Standards (Please indicate whichstate).MA.PK.R.F.2.b. Segment words in a simple sentence read or spoken. (Proposed Massachusetts Additions to the CCSS for English Language Artsand Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, October 2010CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2b. Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables of spoken words.
Part IX: Technology(Session Five) Lively Letters Phonemic Awareness Activity using Technology Materials: CD Player, Video Camera, Computer, Lively Letter Picture Cards Since beginning the Lively Letter curriculum this year, I have seen how the children love the songs and the body movements thataccompany each phoneme. A fun activity to help reinforce the phonemes would be for the children to make a video of themselves singingthe songs. Every child would need to be involved at some point with using the camera and CD player and by singing and doing the movements. Itwould probably work best to have the video camera on a tripod (or something steady) and the children take turns being the camera boyor girl. They would also take turns turning the CD player on and off for each song. The children could experiment with group size foreach song. Since the phonemes are introduced as partners, the children could try singing the partner songs in groups of two, or the boyscould sing the quiet partner song and the girls the noisy partner, or vice versa. There could be many variations on group size and make upfor each song. Now that it is almost the end of the year the children know most of the sounds and letter names (although I have not stressed the letternames.) Students would be randomly assigned a letter to introduce by holding up the Lively Letters picture card and naming either theletter or the character. For example “t” could be introduced by a child saying “This is the quiet tongue dancer!” This could take a few days to film. I would help the children to review each song to make sure that it didn’t need a retake. I would needto learn how to download the video to the computer. Then I would like to make a DVD for each child to take home. I think this is arealistic activity, one that could be done even this year! This would be a great way for the children to continue singing and saying thephonemes during the summer and beyond!
Part X: Reflection(Session Six) In the past I have used listening and rhyming games because I knew they were important as pre-reading skills, but I couldn’t really explainwhy they were important. The readings in this course have helped me to understand what phonemic awareness really is and how thatability to hear and manipulate sounds in rhyme and segmenting and isolating leads to more difficult skills that eventually lead to blendingphonemes into words and reading. There is a plethora of phonemic awareness activities available in books and online. It can be overwhelming trying to decide what to use.Having the Common Core State Standards as a guideline makes it easier to choose the correct kind of activities for my students. Havingphonemic awareness laid out in a progressive sequence such as the CCSS, allows me to use systematic instruction. Now I can refer to theCCSS to determine if an activity is really appropriate for the Pre-K (or possibly Kindergarten) standards and in what order of difficulty itshould be presented. The standards made it easier to choose the activities in my phonemic awareness plans here and in the assessmenttool that I used. I found the phonemic awareness assessment tool to be user friendly. I plan to use it for every child. I realize that not every child may doas well as Boaz did, but it will certainly show me where the children’s strengths and weaknesses are and how I will need to plan myinstruction accordingly. I didn’t reassess Boaz yet. But when I do, based on his mastery of early phonemic awareness skills, I will assess fora more difficult skill of phoneme segmentation. The technology session has me looking forward to the future! I do not currently have access to computers or iPads, but I hope that willchange soon! I was so enthused by the phonemic awareness activities that I saw online and on an iPad. I can see that those activities willreinforce and improve phonemic awareness. I am particularly interested to see how it will affect the skills of children who are learningEnglish. What I do have and can make better use of is a listening center. It will take a small investment to buy new CD’s of books withrhymes and listening games that can be played while at the center. I know that I can use Audacity to record the children while rhyming orsegmenting words and for other phonemic awareness activities. Hearing their voices will serve to increase the interest and enjoymentstudents have while engaging in phonemic awareness activities. One of the most important things I have learned is that it isn’t absolutelynecessary to have the latest and most expensive equipment in order to teach phonemic awareness. It does require time and effort to plansystematically and prepare materials and teach explicitly.
Essay for Final Credit RequirementsI took this course to answer questions and concerns that I’ve had about my own teaching practice. My questions have been: Am I providing correct andsufficient phonemic awareness instruction for the Pre-Kindergarten level? Am I teaching phonics as opposed to phonemic awareness? I knew that listeningskills, letter sounds and rhymes were important. While a general reading course I had previously taken touched upon phonemic awareness, the concentratedemphasis on phonemic awareness in this course has been enormously helpful to me in solidifying the definition and sequence of phonemic awareness. It is allabout the phonemes and the children’s ability to hear them and manipulate them. The Common Core Pre-K Reading Foundation Standards are aligned with the developmental sequence of phonemic awareness found in the PhonemicAwareness Development Continuum found in the online article, “Phonemic Awareness,” 2012 University of Oregon Center on Teaching and Learning. Inanswer to my first question, reading these documents has shown me that as I suspected, there are phonemic awareness areas that I need to concentrate onmore, particularly, rhyming and segmentation of words in sentences, then syllables, then phonemes in words. In answer to my second question, the use of theLively Letters curriculum fits in more with phonemic awareness than phonics because initially the letter names are not taught, just the phonemes/sounds. The readings and resources overall in this course have been phenomenal and I now have the readings in one huge binder and the activities in another so thatI can easily refer to them. The writers of many of the articles reiterated a common thought. Phonemic awareness instruction must be explicit and systematic.While I do explicitly teach listening skills and phonemes using the Lively Letters program, I have not had the rest of my PA curriculum planned out in asequential manner to include the other skills. I fear that some skills have been caught more than explicitly taught. One goal for this summer is to plan for nextyear using the CCSS and the developmental continuum as the guidelines that I need to see the sequence that begins in Pre-K and continues into K and 1. Another area in which this course has helped me is in assessment of phonemic awareness skills. There are 4 Pre-K classes associated with my school (in 4different locations) and while we use the same progress report, I am certain that we all assess in a different way. Most of us (as we do in unit and lessondesigning) have created our assessment tools piecemeal, from books or ideas found online. I plan to incorporate the tools that I used in Session 3 starting in May during the final Pre-K assessment. The Stratford Foundation Phonemic AwarenessAssessment tools are appropriate for the Pre-K CCSS and I found them easy to administer. I’m going to share this information and to recommend this course tothe other Pre-K teachers at our next meeting.
Essay for Final Credit Requirements This brings me to a second issue dealing with assessment. Our school uses DIBELS. They begin in Kindergarten with the Initial Sound Fluency and LetterNaming measures. While I knew a little about DIBELS, the readings in Session Three state that these assessments are reliable predictors of a child’s futurereading proficiency. I have never known how my former students performed on these assessments. Maybe that means that they have done just fineand there is nothing to worry about. But I don’t know that. There is a lack of communication within my school, which is as much my fault as anyoneelse’s. The Common Core State Standards clearly state that Pre-K children should be able to “recognize and produce rhyming words, segment words in asimple sentence and identify the initial sound of a spoken word.” Those skills will be the foundation for more complex PA skills in Kindergarten such asblending and segmenting, as well as adding and deleting phonemes. Knowing that the phonemic awareness foundation that I am helping to buildcontributes to the reading success or failure of my students, makes me want to know how they have done on the DIBELS and if there is a weakness orstrength that shows up as a pattern or not. While I know that DIBELS are not measuring all the PA skills, I should still know the results so that I canrethink and adjust the emphasis of my teaching if necessary. So I am going to explain my reasoning and ask to see the information on my formerstudents. I have a number of English language learners in my class each year. Beth Antunez’s article, “English Language Learners and the Five EssentialComponents of Reading Instruction” (Session One), prepared me to think more deliberately throughout the course about the ELL’s and the kind ofphonemic awareness instruction that would benefit them most. I was struck by what Antunez wrote about some English phonemes not existing in ELL’snative language (and vice versa), thereby making it difficult for them to hear or pronounce certain English phonemes. That means that ELL’s may needextra help in distinguishing the difference between certain phonemes and in pronouncing them. In addition to that, Antunez points out that teachingvocabulary is very important because the children need to be able to attach meaning to the words for which they are trying to learn the phonemes! In order to reach the ELL’s I can add activities that will enrich the entire class. For vocabulary enrichment Antunez mentions word walls. For Pre-K Iwould include photos with the words. Antunez also suggests and I need to use more language games in small group settings. The Session Four ReadingRockets article “Questions that you may have about phonemic awareness” also promotes small group instruction. The idea there is that children will“listen to their classmates respond and receive feedback from the teacher.” I would add that ELL’s who are shy about speaking English would be lessintimidated in a small group of peers than they are in a whole group setting.
Essay for Final Credit Requirements Some of the activities from the Yopp article such as the Scavenger Hunt are done in small groups. Many of the fcrr.org games such as Picture PuzzleBlending are also done in small groups or pairs. ELL’s could also benefit from using a hand mirror to see what their mouth is doing when trying topronounce a phoneme. This activity would need to be done one-on-one or in a small group in order for the teacher to see each child and providefeedback. The other context in which small groups would be ideal is when using technology for PA practice. I had an “oh my goodness!” moment last week, notan “aha” moment when I realized the learning opportunities that my students were missing out on with the lack of technology in the classroom! I sawthat the things that worried me about children using technology were things that could be controlled. By incorporating technology into a LearningCenter teachers can monitor the time spent on task and using a small group will assure some social interaction. Technology does not have to isolatechildren from their peers. In the brief minutes that some of my students played the Picture Match game at school I saw their interest and enthusiasm and I could instantly see ifthey knew the letter sound or not! Now I’m thinking of using technology as another type of teaching tool. It would provide enjoyable extra phonemicawareness practice for the children and I could find programs that help design individual instruction and track individual progress! For the sake of all mystudents and perhaps especially the ELL’s and those struggling with language and phonemic awareness, I need to know what I should recommend toparents for the children to use at home. This course has changed my thinking! Using the guidelines of the CCSS I feel more confident about what I need to teach and how I should plan forphonemic awareness instruction and assessment for next year. I know that if I follow the steps laid out in the CCSS that the children will gradually buildtheir phonemic awareness abilities so that they are ready for Kindergarten, where they will ultimately be expected to read emergent-reader texts. I amreally excited about the possibilities of introducing iPads or laptops into the classroom with applications that would be for phonemic awareness and otherareas such as math and drawing, etc. I’ve gained more information from the internet on phonemic awareness activities and computer games in the last6 weeks than I have in the last 6 years! In preparing myself to meet the task of being an effective teacher, one thing is clear, I need more professionaldevelopment in the area of technology in order to catch up with the children and to be able to integrate appropriate technology into the curriculum!