By Dave Krupke and Jeff Knox Education is generally a series of adults asking questions – this has been so since the time of Socrates. Questions are asked with the hope or even expectation that the children will respond with answers that adults have pre-conceived, either by their own thoughts or based on what a subject-area curriculum tells them the answer should be. It can also be said that adults don’t ask questions for which they don’t know the answers. For adults, “sameness” is important – we want children to have the same answers as we do. Some educators feel it is important for children to be able to explore their world and come up with their own reality. For this to happen, in the home or in a classroom, there must be a sense of shared learning – a perception on the part of both adult and child that curiosity and discovery are fun and have utility for making sense of the world. Shared learning, especially with young children, occurs when adults limit the number of direct questions they ask, such as “what’s this called . . . or what color is that?” When adults ask pointed questions, there [...]
What needs to happen when a student is struggling with the application of phonemic awareness skills needed to establish the neural connections for reading and writing? If we look at early literacy skills as being somewhat sequential, one could pose that these students need to “go back” to re-establish the foundational literacy skills of phonological awareness. That may mean going to Title One Reading or Tier 2 RTI targeted interventions or a reading support program and just focusing on phonological awareness, with the hope that these targeted interventions would transfer back to what is being done and expected in the regular classroom. While that may seem logical on some level, consider whether the focus of the process is to teach “lessons and concepts” in isolation, with the hope that they transfer, or “discover” those same concepts within the text of reading stories, social studies, science, math, or better yet, in environmental print. Should we take students back to work on shoring phonological awareness skills up as a separate lesson or set of activities? During a recent conversation with Randall Klein, Founder of Early Reading Mastery, this very question came up and resulted in a lengthy and invigorating exchange of thoughts [...]
Found in a recent issue of AARP Magazine: our brains recall new information better if, after learning it, we get a good night’s rest or take a nap – this is according to recent research by Harvard Medical School.
Some students have difficulty acquiring emergent literacy skills in preschool and continue to struggle after entering Kindergarten. Both reading and writing are born out of the child’s awareness of the sounds of oral language, the association of sounds to letters, and the subsequent ability to map sound to print. Having the adequate literacy foundation skills of phonological awareness is a necessity. Research tells us that phonemic awareness is critical for reading and writing (especially blending and segmenting), so what is the difference between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness? Phonological and phonemic awareness are interdependent, with phonemic awareness being a subset of phonological awareness. Simply put, phonological awareness involves patterns and all units of sound (the chunks), while phonemic awareness deals with the phonemes or sounds (the pieces). Phonological awareness is innate – our brains are hard-wired for pattern-seeking. Phonological awareness involves the ability to hear/recognize and manipulate the patterns of oral language – words, syllables, rhymes, onsets, rimes, and alliteration, and is an auditory skill (no print involved). It also involves the sense of beginning, end and middle parts of words, as well as word play and the understanding that spoken words consist of sequences of phonemes. Phonemic awareness is [...]
As more educators come to understand learning and the brain, teaching practices and strategies improve, benefiting all learners. The following is a brief summary of information from the work of Dr. Sally Shaywitz and Dr. J. Richard Gentry relative to brain systems for reading. Broca’s area (area A in Gentry’s diagram of the brain) is the Phoneme Processing Area. This is where subvocalization occurs . . a process that is slow and analytical and most likely to be used in the beginning stages of learning to read, according to Shaywitz and Gentry. This area might be activated when a K teacher has children shouting out the rhyming word in a nursery rhyme as they repeat a part in unison. Broca’s area is also the “speech” area, dealing with articulation . . . how sounds are formed in the mouth. The second area of importance is the Word Analysis Area in the parieto-temporal area of the brain (area B). This is where words are pulled apart and put back together, in essence, linking sounds to letters. It is my belief that the use of Visual Phonics hand shapes helps to activate this area. This is also slow and analytical . . [...]
Our Brain – a Pattern Synthesizer Brains love patterns and repetition, and are hard-wired to copy. Our brains actively search for patterns to categorize, organize, synthesize information, code them into memory, and then retrieve them. Language is full of patterns, including rhymes, syllables, words, sentences, songs, and poems. Language also has patterns of sound, known as alliteration. Phonics is the patterns of print. As there are many phonics “rules”, it isn’t necessary to memorize the rules but to recognize the patterns and apply them. . Richard Gentry (Breaking the Code, 2006) states that “the brain of a literate person has an enormous capacity to sort through the thousands of letter combinations on a page of print and find the regular patterns within it by chunking. . . . The reader/writer/speller must learn to chunk strings of letters into discernable patterns . . . Without recognition of the patterns, skilled and automatic reading cannot happen.” . In a 2008 article in Educational Leadership – “Why Phonics Instruction Must Change”, Jeannine Herron states that “early instruction determines how the brain organizes itself for reading . . . and “for most children, the first experiences with letters and words dictate how the brain [...]
By Dr. Ann Harvey, Associate Professor of Reading, Western New Mexico University Young children spend much time in front of a screen. Whether it is a TV screen or a computer screen, there seems to be one result: the child’s near point vision development suffers. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has noticed the problem because they have recommended that no more than one to two hours of quality TV, video, or internet be viewed each day for older children and no screen time should be given to children under the age of two. Beginning readers need to have all the physical benefits of learning to read with minimal effort. Since 80% of information gathered is visual, this is an important aspect of learning. Having both eyes move, align, fixate, and focus as a team enhances the ability to interpret and understand the potential visual information that is available. Extra effort spent on getting print in focus should be used on comprehension efforts. An emergent reading assessment measures problems with eye movement, as well as cognitive, motor, social-emotion development and concepts of print. The information that follows will offer simple remediation efforts to correct delay in the eye movement development. [...]