Monday, August 31, 2015

Early Literacy Series #4: Teaching Sound and Letter Identification in Kindergarten

This is the fourth of seven posts about early literacy.

Alphabet knowledge is a good predictor of early success in learning to read, so you can expect kindergartners with high alphabet knowledge to be better readers later in school than their classmates with low knowledge (Keppänen, Aunola, Niemi, & Nurmi, 2008). 
from Fox, Barbara J. (2011-04-14). Word Identification Strategies: Building Phonics into a Classroom Reading Program (5th Edition) (Page 89). Pearson HE, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

Sound and Letter ID

Sound ID
  1. During whole or small group shared reading point out words and letters in the text.
  2. Invite students to help you find a word or determine the number of words or letters. If necessary, use highlighter tape or a highlighter to more clearly illustrate word and letter boundaries.
  3. Provide daily opportunities for students to hear letter names and sounds.
  4. In small groups, invite students to do picture-sounds sorts (after you have modeled).
  5. Use a letter poster or letter cards to chant names, sounds and a related picture (i.e. "a, /a/, apple).
  6. Discuss letters and sounds during shared reading and writing. 
  7. Share printable letter books that focus on the sound of the letter. A free set can be found here
  8. An ebook I wrote, Developing Children’s Reading through Shared, Choral, Paired & Echo Reading and Technology, can be downloaded from iTunes here. It's free. 

Letter ID
    from Kindergarten Poetry Journal
  1. Read aloud to children.
  2. Provide students with an individual poetry journal that gets made across the year. This download is a terrific start to a journal and is a place where students can lear a lot about rhyming, syllables, word/letter, one to one matching & return sweep, sound and letter identification, sight words, fluency, comprehension, and of course poetry. 
  3. Spend time each day showing students all letters, sounds and related words by reading through a letter chart or letter cards (i.e. a, /aa/, apple, b, /buh/ ball, etc.).
  4. Provide students with alphabet books to trace (upper/lower case letter with image).
  5. During shared reading invite students to look for a variety of letters including those not in their names.
  6. Take a few minutes each day to reinforce handwriting so students will know how to print each letter correctly.
  7. During whole or small group shared reading point out words and letters in the text.
  8. Invite students to help you find a word or determine the number of letters. If necessary, use highlighter tape or a highlighter to more clearly illustrate word and letter boundaries.
  9. Use a letter poster or letter cards to chant names, sounds and a related picture (i.e. "a, /a/, apple).
  10. Read aloud ABC books and provide students with letter books that they make and can read. (The B Book, etc.) Students can draw and cut out images that represent a particular letter or set of letters. 
  11. Provide daily opportunities for students to hear letter names and sounds, such as having them match magnetic letters to an alphabet chart.

12. Have students assemble their names using name puzzles.

13. Have students practice writing their names through rainbow writing.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Early Literacy Series #3: Teaching Rhyming and Initial Sound Instruction

This is the third of seven posts about early literacy.

Kindergarten children turning to talk.
Developing students' phonemic awareness--the capacity to hear and manipulate (separate and blend) sounds in words--is an important prerequisite to reading. Phonological awareness refers to a child's awareness of words, syllables, rhymes and sounds in language. Phonological awareness develops sequentially with awareness of words in everyday speech, followed by syllable awareness. These usually develop in children prior to kindergarten. During kindergarten children usually first become aware of rhymes and beginning sounds. In later kindergarten and early first grade, children develop awareness of all individual sounds in a word. A usual sequence for instruction begins with hearing beginning, then end and finally medial sounds, followed by segmenting and blending sounds. Teaching phonics and phonemic awareness together in kindergarten is beneficial to children. Instruction should be brief and can be fitted into different time slots during the school day.

Teaching Rhyming and Initial Sound Instruction in Kindergarten
  1. Talk with children. Listen. As James Britton so eloquently said, "learning floats on a sea of talk"  (1970, p. 164).
  2. Read aloud ABC books, rhyming books like nursery rhymes, and poems. Use big books and poems written on charts in order to emphasize end rhymes. 
  3. Sing songs with rhymes. Create song charts.
  4. Use children's names and create rhymes. Raffi's Singable Songs for the Very Young or Jack Hartman's Rhymin' to the Beat can be helpful. 
  5. Define rhyming for students and record the definition, with picture examples, on an anchor chart. Use pictures to identify rhyming pairs during phonemic awareness instruction. Identify rhyming words in a variety of texts during interactive read-aloud and shared reading. Use transitional time throughout the day to play with rhyming words orally (What rhymes with ball? mall, call, fall).
  6. Make a wall of words that begin with the same letter and sound; recite nursery rhymes; and call children’s attention to the jump rope rhymes they hear older children recite on the playground.
  7. Provide daily opportunities for students to play with sounds and words in a variety of contexts.
  8. During whole-group instructional time ask students to give you a thumbs-up if two words rhyme, thumbs-down if they do not.
  9. Write a poem on a large chart. As children read the poem in chorus, track words by moving your hand under the words as they are read. This helps children focus on print, demonstrates left-to-right direction, and helps children appreciate the connection between written words and spoken words. When children are thoroughly familiar with the poem, cover up one or more rhyming words with sticky notes. Read the poem together with the children, and ask them to supply the hidden rhyming words. Then remove the sticky notes to reveal the rhyming words. Ask children to think of other rhyming words. On another day, give children the rhyming word cards with masking tape loops on the back. Have children put the rhyming word cards on, next to, or under the rhyming words in the poem. Follow up by making a chart of rhyming words to display in your classroom. You may also wish to add a few rhyming words to the word wall in your classroom.
  10. Provide pairs of words that rhyme and do not.
  11. During small differentiated groups, have students repeat rhyming words after you provide a word (i.e. what rhymes with fan? Child says, pan). 
  12. Children work with partners, individually, or in learning centers (or literacy stations) to sort rhyming pictures or pictures that begin with the same sound.
  13. Have children create a class rhyme book with each child contributing a drawing with two rhyming pictures.  Work with students to label each picture.
  14. Play rhyming games with children.  See examples here
  15. Children cut out pictures that either rhyme with the picture on the top of the bookmark or begin with the same sound as the top picture. Then children glue the pictures in the bookmark squares. Talk about words that rhyme or begin with the same sound. Extend this activity to written language by having children watch as you write the words under the pictures on their bookmarks. Laminate bookmarks to finalize the activity. from: Fox, Barbara J. (2011-04-14). Word Identification Strategies: Building Phonics into a Classroom Reading Program (5th Edition) (Page 32). Pearson HE, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 
    from Word Identification Strategies: Building Phonics into a Classroom Reading Program 

Initial Sound
  1. During whole-group instruction such as shared reading, ask students to give you a thumbs-up if they hear words that have the same first sound.
  2. Provide pairs of words that have, or do not have, the same first sound. (Make this a part of your daily routine.)
  3. Provide many opportunities for drawing and writing.
  4. During writing instruction, show students how they can begin to write words by writing first sound to label their pictures. 


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Early Literacy Series #2: Shared Reading Resources for Preschool and Kindergarten

This is the second of seven posts about early literacy.

illustration by Ashley Bryan from over the hills and far away

A Few Favorite Big Books for Shared Reading

I have always enjoyed Brenda Parkes books for shared reading, although my favorite, Goodnight, Goodnight is no longer in print.  Some titles I'd recommend by her, include:

Other Big Books include....

The Complete Book of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Fingerplays, and Chants
Diez Deditos and Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America 
Down by the River: Afro-Caribbean Rhymes
The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes
Hand Rhymes
Marc Brown's Playtime Rhymes: A Treasury for Families to Learn and Play Together
Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Play Rhyme
Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young
Twenty-Four Robbers (Skipping Rhyme)

Big Books For Story...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Early Literacy Series #1: Shared Reading & Writing and CAP

This is the first of seven posts about early literacy.

Shared Reading

Shared reading is the process when the teacher and the students read a book, chart, or projected text together. The text is read multiple times with the teacher reading the text and the children chiming in at predictable parts. Two criteria govern the selection of shared reading texts: they are predictable texts (big books and charts) and children are able to easily see the print. Predictable books have repeated patterns, refrains, and rhymes. Some important print concepts developed through daily shared reading include: the concepts of word, sentence, and tracking print from left to right, return sweep, and one-to-one matching (matching voice to text).

Shared and Interactive Writing 

from Phonics They Use
Teachers use shared and interactive writing to compose predictable charts. Predictable charts begin with the same sentence stem (My favorite animal is..., On Tuesday I will..., My favorite character is...) and are personalized by the students' contributions. See above for an example of a name chart made by a kindergarten teacher that captures the children's first names.

Write in front of the children. Let them watch you a you form letters and words and reread text.
Encourage children to write in whatever form they can (scribbles to words).

Concepts About Print 

Concept of Word
from here.
  1. Label classroom objects that are used by students on a daily basis. Refer to these words as appropriate during daily work.
  2. Begin to add simple sight words to a word wall to create a mental anchor for sight words as well. Identify these words during shared reading.
  3. Reread patterned text regularly during read-alouds, interactive read-alouds, and shared reading.
  4. Invite students to read chorally during patterned portion of text. 
  5. Discuss the importance of remembering and repeating the patterns in text.
Concept of Letter and Word
  1. During whole or small group shared reading point out words and letters in the text.
  2. Invite students to help you find a word or determine the number of words or letters.
  3. If necessary, use highlighter tape or a highlighter to more clearly illustrate word and letter boundaries
One-to-One Matching
  1. During whole group shared reading lessons, model how you point to words as you read.
  2. During small group  reading lessons, provide opportunities for students to point to words as teacher reads.
  3. Regularly use familiar text with students and ask them to point to the words.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Books K-12 about Hurricane Katrina

from Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans.
Picture Books

Bildner, Phil. (2015). Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans. Illustrated by John Parra. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. 

Coleman, Janet Wyman. (2013). Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival. Illustrated by Yan Nascimbene. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers. 

Larson, Kibby & Mary Nethery. (2008).  Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival.Illustrated by Jean Cassels. New York: Walker Children.

Lewis, Suzanne.  (2015). A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story. Illustrated by Lisa Anchin. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press.

Uhlberg, Myron. (2011). A Storm Called Katrina. Illustrated by Colin Bootman. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.

Watson, Renee. (2010/2014). A Place Where Hurricanes Happen. Illustrated by Shandra Strickland.  New York: Random House.

from Drowned City.
Graphic Novel

Brown, Don. (2015). Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.

Novels for Grades 5-8

Paley, Jane. (2011). Hooper Finds a Family: A Hurricane Katrina Dog's Survival TaleNew York: HarperCollins.

Philbrick, Rodman. (2014). Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina. New York: The Blue Sky Press.

Rhodes, Jewell Parker. (2012). Ninth Ward. New York: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Smith, Tamara Ellis. (2015). Another Kind of Hurricane. New York: Schwartz & Wade.

Woods, Brenda. (2012). Saint Louis Armstrong Beach. New York: Puffin.

Novels for High School

Volponi, Paul.(2009). Hurricane Song: A Novel of New Orleans. New York: Speak.

Accounts for HS and Older

Eggers, Dave. (2010). Zeitoun. New York: Vintage.


Spielman, David G. (2015). The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City. New Orleans: Historic New Orleans Collection. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Technologies, Schooling, and Relevance

from Occupy Wall Street (Reilly, 2011)

From the NY Times today:

“Every time I go to a new country, I buy a SIM card and activate the Internet and download the map to locate myself,” Osama Aljasem, a 32-year-old music teacher from Deir al-Zour, Syria, explained as he sat on a broken park bench in Belgrade, staring at his smartphone and plotting his next move into northern Europe.
“I would never have been able to arrive at my destination without my smartphone,” he added. “I get stressed out when the battery even starts to get low.”

Aljasem is one of the tens of thousands of migrants entering the Balkans, seeking a different way of life. According to the NY Times, WhatsApp, a cross platform messaging app is said to be an essential tool of migrants from Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.


My son told us yesterday that he and his gaming team are now ranked first in the United States and third internationally after the last round of competitions. His five member team hails from the United States and Canada. He'd like to attain the semi-pro level in the game in the next year or so as he is now ranked just below semi-pro. His team members range from 16 to 19 years old. This year's international pro competition paid close to a million dollars to the winners and each year sees that winning pot increase sharply as do the numbers of those watching and attending the competition in Europe where E-sports are a rage.


Later today, my husband will undergo video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS).  A tiny camera (thoracoscope) and surgical instruments will be inserted into his chest, between ribs, through several small incisions. The thoracoscope will transmits images of the inside of his chest onto a video monitor, guiding the surgeon. The surgeon is not a young man. He is not a 'digital native' by any stretch--given his 40 years of experience. Fortunately, for us, his digital status has little bearing on his skill or his commitment to learn what must be learned in order to practice his work. He'll text me when he's out of surgery so we can speak.


In the next few weeks or so, most students here will have returned to a U.S. school where technologies will be doled out like prized pigs and/or kept concealed at the bottom of school bags by kids depending on each school district's definition of acceptable use. Technologies, like smart phones, will continue to be confiscated like contraband at some school sites. At other sites, teachers and administrators of the 'non-digital persuasion' will be allowed to pretend that the technological revolutions that are happening here and across the world do not affect them and by definition, their students. You can almost hear them uttering, "No need to alter how I teach."

Now, I am not suggesting educators should or should not have opinions about technologies and learning.  I'd expect most to have strong opinions. What I am saying is that as some educators and school systems continue to work as if it were the 1950s, the world beyond those school doors is quickly showing how irrelevant such positioning is.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Let Them Play: Thinglink Interactive

I was playing around with Thinglink and decided to make this interactive about play. Just touch the circles to access resources.