K-2 Literacy "Look Fors" - Part I

Literacy learning is a wide spectrum that is not linear. Research shows literacy is made up of six components. When students come to you they may fall anywhere on this unbelievably large pie chart of components.

 How Do We Address 20 Some Kids That Have Strengths and Weakness In These Areas? 

I'm a firm believer that all six components need to be balanced and addressed simultaneously (as much as possible, anyway). The first step to addressing these areas appropriately is to consider brain development and the part it plays in learning.

You can find a document stating the  devlopmental age of acquisition  here:  http://www.phonologicalawareness.org/#!-age-of-acquisition/cuq7

The underlying life skill involved  with literacy is communication. Communication begins at birth. Both spoken and unspoken communication play a role in healthy brain development.  While we can educate parents and involve them in the their child's education, we can't change their lifestyle. So what can we do? We can start by addressing oral language, speaking and listening first in our classrooms.

First Things First - Oral Language Look Fors & Classroom Accommodations

Take notice of the the kiddos who struggle with listening and following multi-step directions. Listening is a very important skill needed for literacy learning. This is something that can be taught to most with just  a little explicit direction. Those who don't respond to such instruction may have a processing concern. If that's the case, the more direct the instruction and checking for understanding, the better. Making accommodations in this way will support these learners in the classroom. 

Make sure and require  kids to  speak in complete sentences. If they have a hard time coming up with a complete sentence, give them an example of a complete sentence and have them repeat it. Continue to do this until they start to do it on their own. 

Read aloud everyday; whenever and wherever you can. Choose good literature that has good vocabulary and lessons that can be tied to a variety of of other lessons being addressed.

Resource references:

Reading aloud is a common practice in primary classrooms and is viewed as an important vehicle for vocabulary development. Read-alouds are complex instructional interactions in which teachers choose texts, identify words for instruction, and select the appropriate strategies to facilitate word learning. This study explored the complexities by examining the read-aloud practices of four primary teachers through observations and interviews.

Phonological Awareness Look Fors & Classroom Accommodations

Phonological awareness is not phonics. Phonological awareness is about sounds, sound patterns, and sound manipulation. In this stage, you are checking for understanding of syllables, rhyming, matching beginning sounds & ending sounds, and substituting or deleting sounds. 

I would encourage this instruction to take place in both whole group and small group. Since we don't want to have long whole group instruction, this practice could happen throughout the day. Pulling up interactive activities on an interactive whiteboard before transitions or when an activity breaks need to happen is a great way to get this practice in.  

Resource List:

Phonemic Awareness:  is a component that falls under the "phonological awareness umbrella".  Phonemic awareness occurs when we hear individual sounds in words and can manipulate the individual sounds. This is where segmenting, isolating and blending sounds come into play. For example,  cat has three sounds- /c/ -/a/-/t/. If we replace the /c/with /b/ then we make bat. Elkonin boxes, or sound boxes, are a good tool to use to practice theses skills. Just remember this is not about actual letter i.d. its about the sounds letters make. It is recommended that you use chips, felt squares, pennies or any other small objects rather than letters.   Using magnetic chips and wands are fun with elkonin box activities.

I've created a freebie sample of a project I have in progress. Feel free to download it and leave a comment below if you would like to know when the project is complete. 


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