Reading Foundational Skill: Phonological Awareness

The state MTSS Conference is over. It was a great time, and I survived my public speaking experience. I think our presentation went well even with all of the the technological problems leading to it.

I thought I'd take the chance a share a few of the things I learned over the two day event. The first session I attended was probably my favorite and  was put on by Anita Archer, Ph.D.

If you have not heard of her, you really need to checkout her books, clips from YouTube and free handouts from past workshops through MiBLSi. A former teacher of 47 years, she brought a lot of pizazz to the presentation. Although, the presentation was geared for K-2 many of the ideas presented were great for my small MTSS intervention groups. 

The critical foundation skills are: phonological awareness, phonics/word recognition, and fluency.

Phonological awareness is understanding oral language can be broken down into smaller components.
  • Sentences to words
  • Words to syllables 
  • Words into on-set rimes
  • Words into phonemes 
All of these involve blending and segmenting.

Chart from Anita Archer, Ph. D
Segmenting and blending activities have the greatest benefit for reading acquisition according to the National Reading Panel. A student's phoneme awareness performance in Kindergarten/First is a strong predictor of long-term reading and spelling success.

How to Incorporate:
  •  Kindergarten 10-15 minutes a day, could be done throughout the day.
  • Working on syllables could be done by playing the "name game." It's a good way to work on syllables and learn about one another. 
  • Blending and segmenting can be done throughout the day. Have students listen while they are lined up for lunch, give them a word to blend together... maybe where your headed or an object around the room.   
  • First grade 10 minutes a day incorporated into phonics instruction. 
  • All elementary grades should incorporate phonemic awareness into spelling.
 Phonemic Awareness Activities Should Be:
  1. Few in number. 2-3 activities done often.
  2. Explicitly modeled.  Don't commit "assume-aside" 
  3. Supported by concrete materials or gestures.
  4. Designed to include all students. 
Instructional routines, although often thought to be boring by teachers are actually motivating to struggling learners. This is due to the probability of success that these students can experience through these activities.

Blending Sounds into Words
  1. We're going ot play a say-the-word game. I'll say the sounds. You say the word.
  2. Listen. aaaaammmm
  3. What word? am
  4. (Repeat with other words.) 
  5. (If time permits, check individual students)
Practice with words that students will decode. Maybe a particular sound or word family that you are working with. 

There are two types of segmenting: smooth and separate.

Segmenting Words into Sounds--- Smooth Segmenting
  1. Put your fists together.
  2. Get ready to stretch the word.
  3. The word is fin. What word? fin
  4. Stretch it. fffiiiiinnnn (pull fists apart)
  5.  Shrink it. fin (bring fists together)
  6. If time permits, check individual students.) 
 Segmenting Words into Sounds--- Separate Segmenting
  1. We're going to say the sounds in a word.
  2. Fist in the air. Put up one finger for each sound.
  3. The word is sat. What word? sat
  4. First sound? /sss/ Next sound? /aaa/ Last sound? /t/
  5. If time permits, check individual students.  
*It's critical to not distort sounds. Some sounds such at /t/ you can't hold as long. If you do, you will inadvertently add a vowel sound to it.*

A lot of information for a Sunday, it may not be the most applicable for all of my upper elementary friends; however, I teach an intervention group that I think I could use some of these activities and skill work in throughout our intervention times.

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