The Challenge of the Squiggly Lines Providing staff development offers many opportunities to interact with educators. Some are willing to share their thinking during the training sessions via questions and statements that call for “clarification”. Some thoughts and/or questions reflect a sense of doubt or skepticism, while some are just searching for confirmation of their thoughts & ideas. One of the concerns that is expressed during Visual Phonics trainings involves the thought that adding written symbols under print will confuse students, more so for those who struggle with the “code” of English and are already confused by the variability of the sounds that letters represent. This concern is logical from the perspective of educators whose concept of early literacy skills is founded in letter knowledge, with letter-sound knowledge in a secondary position of importance. I have given this question a great deal of thought through the years. The fear of confusing students with additional characters in the print field would appear to be valid if students viewed both letters and Visual Phonics written symbols as the same kind of “squiggly lines” on the page. At first glance, both are squiggly lines that represent something and that is where the similarity [...]
Posts Tagged ‘ written symbols ’
Utility directly impacts the lasting recall of Visual Phonics hand shape cues and written symbols. Thoughtful and purposeful use of hand shapes and written symbols can be plugged in to daily dynamic routines of review, daily reinforcement activities involving coding with Visual Phonics symbols, and the use of visual references/charts. Utility is established for teachers when the Visual Phonics cues become an effective teaching tool . . . and for students when the cues become an effective learning tool. Teachable moments – those unexpected instances when students appear confused, provide a “wrong” answer, or perhaps just don’t know - provide excellent opportunities to connect sound and print with either Visual Phonics hand shapes or written symbols, and are often more powerful learning experiences than planned lessons. The decision about when, how much and how often to use Visual Phonics is based on how well teachers know their students and how observant teachers are relative to student understanding and response. Visual Phonics written symbols can be easily integrated into Word Walls, Sound Walls, Word family posters, and Sight Word displays. Specific information on implementation ideas can be found in a collection of articles under the Visual Phonics tab on the Home [...]
I really enjoy ancient wisdoms and thoughts that cause us to stop and think, such as: It’s not the years in education . . . it’s the education in the years. Making the most of our collective and individual time with students is so important, especially when some of our learners struggle with literacy skills that come easily for their classmates. As a very wise colleague once said, “we need to have a variety of brain-compatible/sense-making strategies and activities readily available at all times”. Having a variety of ways to teach and learn touches all of the various combinations of learning channels, a very important consideration for struggling learners. We must find numerous, creative, unique and “fun” ways to connect sound and print, and we need to do that on a routine basis. Multisensory strategies/methods can open windows of learning that had remained limited or even closed through traditional teaching/learning methods. Visual Phonics, a multisensory strategy for connecting sound & print, is opening windows of learning and helping to make sound-letter connections and “break the code” for many struggling learners. Since the brain loves repetition and patterns, the activities of gathering and sorting are naturally very “brain-compatible”. There are two [...]
If we immerse our students in activities that connect print and sound utilizing Visual Phonics hand shapes and written symbols, they will use these “tools” when they are processing print without being told to do so (especially the visual-kinesthetic learners). When the teacher models hand shape & written symbol use throughout the day and embeds VP hand shape/written symbol use into learning centers, the value of the method shows up due to frequent, intense & dynamic implementation. Consider this piece of ancient wisdom: If you give a man a fish he eats for a day . . . when you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime. When we immerse our students in Visual Phonics hand shape and symbol use, they will use them more often, and will do so independently. What a truly great way to empower our students!
It is not unusual for a teacher or administrator to ask this question during a Visual Phonics training, workshop, or class: “Won’t students get confused by the Visual Phonics written symbols when they are trying to learn their letters?” This line of reasoning appears to come from the observation that learning the letter names is not always easy for students and that the letters of the Alphabet are also “symbols” . . so if they are unsure or confused by letters, why wouldn’t they be further confused by Visual Phonics written symbols? At first glance, that would be a logical conclusion . . . however, with a closer look at the characteristics of letters and the characteristics of the Visual Phonics written symbols, a different picture appears. Consider this – a symbol is consistent in what it represents – it represents the same meaning no matter where it shows up. Letters can be described as “squiggly lines” which are not consistent in what they represent. Sometimes they represent their “default” sound(s) (the typical sounds that are taught in preschool and Kindergarten) and sometimes they don’t. For example, the letter A can sound long in “ate”, short in “apple”, like a [...]
It has been said that the potential for learning takes place when three conditions exist: things are noticed; specific attention is given; and sustained focus/attention occurs. (Source unknown) Visual Phonics hand shape cues and/or written symbols can be used to make individual letters and “chunks” stand out so that they are more noticeable. Once the letters or chunks of print are more noticeable, specific attention can be given to the letter-sound connections in order to reduce or eliminate confusion about the sound(s) the letters represent. The visual-kinesthetic features of the Visual Phonics hand shape cues provide strong learning channel inputs that help to “map” sound to print and facilitate focus & attention on specific letters or chunks. With sustained focus on & attention to the correct sounds that the letter(s) represent, the potential for learning and retention of that learning is enhanced. A higher frequency of “correct trial learning” also leads to more stable skill retention and retrieval.