Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Struggling Readers: Phonological Awareness vs. Phonemic Awareness

Many of us have struggling readers in our classrooms. Now that school is back in full swing and reading groups are going, we teachers of lower grades need to take a look at how we meet the needs of our struggling readers.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD), after two years of extensive researched, published it's findings in 2000 in The Report of the National Reading Panel (NRP). The panel concluded there are five essential components of reading instruction that help struggling readers learn to read. These concepts are known commonly as "The Big 5". (Side note: Interestingly, the Panel did not address issues relevant to ELL learners as this was being done by another study.) They include the following:

In our district, we must have this posted somewhere in our room as a constant reminder of the most critical elements of teaching reading.

Over the next few weeks I want to take a look at each one of the Big 5 and have you link up with activities that you use in your classrooms! 

Today, my focus is on the first stepping stone, phonemic awareness. Too often, teachers confuse the terms phonemic awareness and phonological awareness, or they use them interchangeably. Phonological awareness is the overall umbrella referring to the awareness of the sound structure of a spoken word (Gillon, 2004). When you are talking about rhyming, alliteration, clapping syllables, dividing words into onset and rime, you are talking about phonological awareness. Phonological awareness develops from the larger level, rhyming, to the smaller level, phonemic awareness.

The graphic above is based on a fabulous picture I found in the book, Next STEPS in Literacy Instruction: Connecting Assessments to Effective Interventions, (page 56). I wanted to adapt it to my for my own use and made the one above.

As you can see from the picture, phonemic awareness is the tail end of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear sounds in isolation and to manipulate those sounds. And, as shown by the chart above, there is a sequence to developing phonemic awareness just as there is phonological awareness, from easiest tasks to the more challenging tasks (isolation to substitution). This makes identifying the phonological and/or phonemic instruction a child needs much easier! 

If a child cannot blend (phonemic awareness), go back and see if he can categorize a sound, and so on. If a child cannot isolate a sound (first step in phonemic awareness), you need to go back through the steps of phonological awareness and see if he can identify onset-rime, etc. All the while, the NRP suggests the continued teaching of phonemic awareness as you go back and pick up areas of phonological awareness that may be missing (NICHHD).

Here are some other interesting facts the NRP suggests:
* Teach in small groups, with explicit and systematic instruction. (Struggling readers benefit most from groups of 3 or 4).

* The ability to blend and segment sounds give the greatest advantage to reading for K-1 students. 

* Teach through games, songs, nursery rhymes, and activities. 

* Connect phonological awareness with letters whenever possible. The connecting of speech to print improves phonemic awareness.

* Monitor progress at least every 2 weeks and make changes to the size of the group, the duration taught, etc. to help meet your goal.

* Provide direct instruction and guided practice of phonological activities and give particular attention to phoneme segmentation.

If you have blogged about or have a fun freebie or a TpT product that teaches any area of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness or heck, even phonics, link up below! My hope is that this will become a treasure trove of ideas for teachers!

Hugs and love,

Gillon, G.T. (2004). Phonological awareness: From research to practice. New York: Guilford Press.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading     Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Cursive Packet

Whew! I started my Cursive Handwriting Packet back in June when my dear bloggy friend, Nicole Shelby from Teaching With Blonde Ambition made the suggestion that I add it to my collection of Handy Handwriting Packets (D'Nealian and Zaner Bloser) which have become one of my top sellers available in my TpT store. 

You can use these pages individually, send it home for homework, or make it into a handwriting booklet. I hope you find this packet helpful in teaching your students!

Thank you, Nicole, for the idea and for being so patient with me!! I hope everyone will show Nicole some love and TLC and visit her blog and TpT pages! She is an amazing seller on TpT and I love her products!

Teaching with Blonde Ambition

Here are just a couple of Nicole's top sellers and an awesome freebie of hers. I personally own these and absolutely LOVE them!! (Just click on the pic to visit her TpT store to purchase! You'll love these!)

 Here's one of Nicole's AWESOME FREEBIES!!

I hope everyone has a great night and gets off to a fabulous Monday!! I'm off to go snuggle up with my hubby to watch my Steelers go against the Broncos!! Go STEELERS!! (Hubby's rooting for the Broncos!)

Loads of Love,

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I can't tell you how much I've missed blogging and being connected with all my blogging teaching friends!! I have really really missed everyone! 

Today is such a beautiful day out here in Utah! It's prefect Fall weather, great for a drive up in the mountains and a football game. I just dropped my hubby off at the BYU football game and I am enjoying catching up on some long awaited blog-hopping time while listening to the football game on tv! Don't ya just love Fall? I think it is my favorite time of the year! The windows are open, a nice breeze is blowing, the sun is shining and life is good....

and, I am soooo excited to jump back into blogging with Farley's "Currently"! Don't you just love Farley!? 

If you want to join in the "Currently" link-up just click on over to Farley's blog, Oh boy, 4th Grade and join in the fun! It's a great way to connect with other bloggers! Oh, and don't forget Farley's rule of 3: Go 2 behind your link on her link-up party and leave a comment, and go 1 ahead of your link on her link-up and leave a comment. 

Happy Saturday!
Hugs and loads of love,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Teaching Beginning Readers

Wow! Sorry that I have been M.I.A. for the past few months! I got married in July and then school started in August and I have been busy, busy, busy! I absolutely LOVE married life! My new hubby is so good to me!! I feel so spoiled having someone who helps with the laundry and who makes me dinner when I come home from work! He's truly one in a million!!

I hope everyone's new year is off to a great start! I have been exhausted the past couple of weeks from working long hours at school. Tis the season for putting in long hours to make sure everything gets off to a great start! I have an adorable new group of firsties! They are so cute and so well-behavied! It's been a nice start to a new year!

I love the beginning of a new school year and teaching reading to my fresh batch of first graders. It always takes me by surprise how little and cute they are! Our Kindergarten teachers at my school do a fantastic job of preparing our first graders every year. One of the programs we use at our building is Jolly Phonics. It was introduced to us by an exchange teacher we had from England.

I love Jolly Phonics! It systematically teaches the letters of the alphabet along with an action that the students do while saying the letter name and sound. The interactive whiteboard version has a large letter the students can trace, a song using the letter sound in words, and a text version of the song where students can see the letter in words. My students come in knowing all or almost all of their letters and sounds! I am using Jolly Phonics to help teach CVC words to my kiddos right now. They use the actions for each letter sound as they make the CVC words. I really love how it helps my kinesthetic learners make a connection to each letter sound!

I also love this parent handout put out by! This gives very easy to understand information to parents on how they can help their child with the beginning stages of reading. I hope you find this useful!

Lots of love to you,

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