A Balanced Literacy Program for Special Education


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Special education students progress more rapidly when they participate in a literacy program that balances phonological awareness with comprehension. Reading with meaning is an educator's ultimate goal!

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  • Foundation of phonological awareness underpins phonics. PA is a prerequisite!!!Before children can make sense of the alphabetic principle, they must first understand that those sounds that are paired up with letters are “one and the same” as the sounds of speech. Many people focus on sound awareness, before PA, but this is not the best approach.Children must therefore have solid phonological awareness skills before undertaking phonics instruction. However - Very important!!As teachers, if we focus too much on sounds and phonemic or phonological awareness, rather than meaning we will produce adults who know how to read but never do so for pleasure. Literacy is much more than the ability to bark out words or produce perfect spelling test results on Fridays. Understanding and searching for meaning must not be postponed until some later date when the mechanics of print have been mastered. Reading is first and foremost a meaning- driven enterprise. Reading fluency NEEDS to be modelled. Use lots of repetition, same books for several times to increase fluency. Same big book used as model all week!
  • Visual – syntactic structure Phonics – graphophonicsMeaning – semantics Reading skills can be taught. Not only by immersing children in a reading environment, but structuring a program that explicitly teaches skills.
  • Reading, spelling & writing are secondary skills to speech. Research shows that delayed development of phonemic awareness skills manifests itself initially in speech development difficulties, and later in the development of early literacy skills. Children who have early speech delay may therefore be at greater risk of reading and spelling problems.
  • Phonological awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate the sounds of spoken language (hearing and repeating sounds, separating and blending sounds, identifying similar sounds in different words, hearing parts or syllables in word “hel-i-cop-ter). • Phonemic awareness is a more advanced component of phonological awareness; it is the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words (identifying the three sounds in the word bug as /b/ /u/ /g/). Research has shown that if phonological awareness skills are gained in a child’s early years then the child will have more success with spelling and reading in later years.Phonemic awareness is part of phonological awareness, but a higher level skill. It’s also a listening skill. Phonemic awareness means understanding that words are made up of sounds. Each individual sound in spoken words is called a phoneme. There are 44 phonemes in the English Language.
  • 1. Identify and make oral rhymes When children can string together rhyming words, such as, “dip, sip, lip, glip” they show us they are developing phonological awareness. 2. Hear, identify and play with the sounds in words. Listen to the words sun, sit, and song. What sound do they all begin with? (all begin with the /s/ sound) What other words begin with the “sss” sound? Now listen to these words: bite, dot, and sit. What sound do they end with? (all end with the /t/ sound). Which word doesn’t fit? dust, dog, dig, and stop? (stop) Why not? (it doesn’t start with the “ddd” sound) 3. Hear the syllables in words Let’s clap the sounds in some words together. “Hap-py” “Lol-li-pop” “El-e-phant” Let’s snap for a word. Who would like to suggest a fanciful multi-syllable word?
  • Pose the question: “What are some reasons children enjoy this song?” Listen for ideas such as: • They love hearing their own names • They enjoy it because of the silly sounds • They like repetitive games What can children learn from listening to this song?Listen for ideas such as: • They learn each other’s names. • They learn to listen for repeating sounds. • They hear and say rhyming words.
  • Play games with the sounds in words Incorporate playful rhymes with children (“Oh my, we have oodles of noodles for lunch today.”) Talk with children about words and sounds in everyday situations If you want children to tune into the sounds of language you have to do it too! Think about times you have called children’s attention to the way language sounds. Anyone have an example to share? (Call attention to alliteration by using it playfully, noting it in read aloud books, and with poetry.) Choose books to read aloud that focus on sounds Ask: what books come to mind? Invite participants to come up with 2 or 3 read aloud books that are great for the sounds in language such as M. W. Brown The Summer Noisy Book and The Winter Noisy Book, P. Conrad Animal Lingo, and M. SerfozoJoe Joe.
  • Larger unit of print to focus on meaning and to develop sentence structure and understanding that sentences are made up of individual words. Opening Letters or Big Books for Shared Reading experiences very important.
  • We do this a lot with compic or photographs. Google images makes it much easier these days.
  • Robot walk is better than clapping as clapping focuses too much on rhythm rather than sounds.
  • CS Lewis (Narnia series)All students are capable of thinking! Regardless of disability, we need to engage students actively in literacy to encourage thinking and comprehension. If they are unable to decode written material we need to find different ways to expose them to information to expand their thinking and comprehension.In a literacy classroom, literacy is an active process. We build a community of thinkers by following a few essential principles.Fostering passion and curiosity Value collaborative learning and thinkingLarge blocks of time for extended reading and writingExplicit instructionResponsive instruction and differentiated instructionAccessible resourcesAuthentic response – responding to reading in a variety of ways Appropriate texts (digital and books to challenge every interest and level of ability)
  • Readers reveal their comprehension by responding to a text, not by answering a litany of literal questions at the end of the chapter on rocks and minerals. The questions should be student generated not devised by an author who does not know its reader. Personal responses to reading give us a window into students’ minds. We connect with their thinking when we know what’s going on for them as they read.What really matters is that students internalise comprehension strategies that promote understanding. When we listen to kids, watch them closely, ask them questions, we learn not only what they understand, but also what they don’t understand. By doing this, we design instruction that is responsive to what they need to learn.
  • This highlights the importance of structure that can change meaning. It also shows the same words can be read and interpreted in two different ways. Further highlights the need to discuss, think and comprehend material as two readers can read the same words but develop their own meaning. We need to get our kids used to thinking and talking about what they read, not simply say the words on the page. Students with intellectual disability are still capable of thinking! We need to scaffold their thinking through effective modelling and structure.
  • Researchers spent many years investigating what proficient readers do to comprehend text, what less successful readers fail to do, and how best to move novices towards expertise. From research, comprehension strategies were identified that successful readers of all ages use routinely to construct meaning when they read. Teachers need to teach these strategies explicitly and for surprisingly long periods using well written nonfiction and literature. Activate prior knowledge before, during and after reading text
  • Reading is planned and regular in a predictable environment. Whether this means we teach reading with a structured mini-lesson highlighting a particular genre or comprehension strategy (15 mins) followed by independent reading (20 mins) then concluding with time to dicuss & share strategy (10 mins) doesn’t matter. What matters is to provide a framework combined by strategy instruction ad then practise. Story – We all love predictability. Even the most creative working environment – an artist’s student or science lab still have the essence of predictability!!! Students need it too. We need to determine a format that works for our students and their learning situation and stick to it (as much as possible).
  • A just right book is not too easy and not too hard. It looks interesting to you and you want to read it.
  • When we take the time to read aloud with our children we bond closely with them in a secret society associated with the books we’ve shared. The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks that fly when a child, book and the person reading make contact. This is created by the relationship between all three. Reading aloud with your children is the best thing you can do to develop their comprehension and thinking…and it’s fun!
  • A Balanced Literacy Program for Special Education

    1. 1. A balanced literacy program…
    2. 2. Reading is about balancePhonologicalAwareness & Meaning & Decoding Thinking
    3. 3. Reading(according to Senior students, September, 2011)
    4. 4. LanguageReading Thinking
    5. 5. Major Components of Reading InstructionPhonological awareness – no letters attached, just soundsPhonics – hear the sound and map to the letterVocabulary development – we need to teach about wordsexplicitly “What’s another word for big?”Reading fluency – Read accurately, with expression andunderstandingReading comprehension – our ultimate goal!
    6. 6. Reading is not a natural process• Specific areas of the brain are used to process language.• The brain analyses text at three major levels.1. The visual features of the words and letters;2. The phonological representation of those words; and3. The meanings of the words and sentences. Reading is not developmental or natural, it is learned.
    7. 7. To read, children must:1. decode text2. translate it into a speech form, and3. understand spoken language. These skills are the foundations for reading comprehension (Wren, 2008).
    8. 8. Part One:Phonological Awareness
    9. 9. Phonological or Phonemic Awareness?Both Phonological and Phonemic Awareness focus on the SOUND elements of spoken words. Phonological Awareness Phonemic Awareness Includes phonemic awareness Narrower – subcategory of Phonological Awareness Identify and manipulate larger Identify and manipulate parts of spoken language individual sounds of spoken words Includes alliteration, rhyme, words & syllables
    10. 10. What’s involved in Phonological Awareness?1. Word Awareness, e.g. spoken language is made up of words; words are representations of objects (cat), emotions (love) and concepts (height); words can rhyme2. Syllable Awareness, e.g. some words have a single syllable and others have more than one3. Onset and Rime Awareness, e.g. single syllable words are made up of onsets and rimes4. Phonemic Awareness, e.g. words are made up of individual sounds or phonemes.
    11. 11. A child with phonological awareness can:1. Identify and make oral rhymes2. Hear, identify and play with thesounds in words.3. Hear the syllables in words
    12. 12. To support children’s development of phonological awareness, we… we: Use songs, rhyming games, nursery rhymes, and rhyming poetry Willoughby Wallaby Woo Play
    13. 13. • Play games with the sounds in words• Talk with children about words and sounds in everyday situations• Choose books to read aloud that focus on sounds & repetition
    14. 14. Puppetry Strategies1. Draw attention to phoneme articulation.Use slow & exaggerated pronunciation. How do I change with each individual sound?2. Use larger unit of print(sentences/whole words) as well asindividual alphabet sounds. Opening Letter contains words with focus sound
    15. 15. Opening LettersDear Junior 12, Listen to these words.Can you tell me the rhyming pattern? Dear Junior 12,From Mrs. Cardullo Listen to this rhyme. Which words do you think rhyme? Can you point out the word “ran”? From Mrs. Cardullo Hickory, Dickory, Dock Hickory, dickory, dock, The mouse ran up the clock, The clock struck one, The mouse ran down! Hickory, dickory, dock.
    16. 16. 3. Use visual pictures instead of words for syllable segmentation and rhymingcomponent. This prevents students from straining to recall the words presented. Cut and match the rhyming pictures. Cut out and stick the pictures back together. Write the animal in the box and write how many syllables are in the animal’s name. red How many syllables? Animal: How many syllables? Animal: How many syllables?
    17. 17. SyllablesRobot Walk Chin Check “Check it with your chin” by holding your hand under your chin and counting how many times your chin hits your hand when you say a word. Syllable Snake game and Syllable Sam
    18. 18. Hands-on Games & use of concrete objects. Rolling the ball to represent number of phonemes/syllables.Magnetic letters to represent phonemes or syllables in words. Using marbles in containers to represent number of phonemes/syllables.
    19. 19. Using music to tap out individual phonemes in words.Word Makers and Sentence Makers Reading Rods
    20. 20. Rhyme match & Vowel Snap Commercially produced Literacy Games Manipulable Reading Books & Games
    21. 21. When to teach…• Research has shown that phonological awareness skills are best when taught in short bursts.• No longer than 10 minutes at a time.• No more than 3 times a day, so great as time fillers and can be done anywhere even in the car. “”Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle.”
    22. 22. Some activities...• Live spelling
    23. 23. Resources• 1. Yourself• 2. A present for you handout from VSSS• Books• Games, games and more games.• VSSS DVD
    24. 24. Tea Break
    25. 25. Part Two:Comprehension
    26. 26. ‘Turn & Talk’
    27. 27. “Reading furnishes the mind only withmaterial of knowledge. It is thinkingthat makes what we read ours.”C.S. Lewis
    28. 28. Our own experiences…
    29. 29. “Once thought of as the natural result ofdecoding plus oral language, comprehensionis now viewed as a much more complexprocess involving knowledge, experience,thinking and teaching.”(Linda Fielding and P. David Pearson, 1994)
    30. 30. “Woman without her man is nothing.”
    31. 31. “Woman, without her, man is nothing.”
    32. 32. Research – The experts!
    33. 33. Check Understanding Build Fluency Sense It Ask Questions Reading isConnect ToText Thinking Making Inferences/ DrawDecide What’s ConclusionsImportant Expand Predict and Prove Summarize/ Vocabulary Synthesize
    34. 34. The Teacher ...– Intentional, responsive and adaptive– Explicitly teaches comprehension– Provides powerful modelling through think aloud– Understands that modelling cannot be scripted- adjust it and try again– Provides a predictable framework– Is relentless!
    35. 35. Research: Struggling Year 6 StudentsStudents typically reading at Year 3 level• Group 1: half the students tutored with Year 6 texts (core reading, social studies texts etc.)• Group 2: half the students tutored with Year 3 texts – Few gains with first group – Significant gains with the second groupO Connor, R. E., Bell, K. M., Harty, K. R., Larkin, L. K., Sackor, S. M., & Zigmond, N. (2002). Teaching reading to poor readers in the intermediate grades: A comparison of text difficulty. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(3), 474–485
    36. 36. “High Success Reading”“Any school plan that does not put high-success texts in struggling readers hands all day long is not only ignoring the research but also creating and perpetuating large numbers of struggling readers.”Allington, R. L. (2011). What At-Risk Readers Need. Educational Leadership Vol 68 No 6.
    37. 37. ‘Just Right Books’• Read volumes of materials at a ‘good-fit’ or ‘just right’ reading level• Teach students to select appropriate material
    38. 38. Balance Explicit Instruction Time forreading, writing and discussing texts
    39. 39. Read Aloud
    40. 40. A think aloud
    41. 41. Read Aloud & Think AloudWhen reading aloud, you can stop fromtime to time and orally completesentences like these:So far, Ive learned...This made me think of...That didnt make sense.I think ___ will happen next.I reread that part because...I was confused by...I think the most important part was...That is interesting because...I wonder why...I just thought of...
    42. 42. Keeping Tracks
    43. 43. Over to you…
    44. 44. Sharing & questions
    45. 45. Resources