Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March 19, 2019





Little boys aspire to be “him”, and little girls think he’s the “King of the World.” A dad is the first important male figure in a child’s life. Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity for the little ones to show how important this special man is to them.

Father’s Day is the perfect time to show your dad how much you love and care for him. Instead of giving the usual gifts, try to do something different that your father will love and cherish forever.

Monday, March 11, 2019

March 11, 2019




SAN DIEGO -- Children will soon be cheering yea and neigh.
A new Dr. Seuss book, titled "Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum," is hitting the shelves 28 years after the acclaimed author died.
The book, which came out in September, celebrates art and "how we all see the world in different ways," publisher Random House said in a statement Thursday.
Young readers will join a friendly horse on a guided tour of an art museum. The book will feature reproductions of famous horse artwork by Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and other artists, Random House said.
Fans of Seuss' previous works will be delighted to see some of their favorite characters again. Some of the classic Dr. Seuss characters, including the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, and Horton the Elephant, also make cameos in the book.
Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodore Seuss Geisel, died in 1991 at age 87 after writing and illustrating dozens of playful children's books, including "Green Eggs and Ham" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"
The manuscript for "Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum" was discovered in the late author's La Jolla, California, home 21 years after his death. Using Geisel's original sketches and taking inspiration from his past work, Australian illustrator Andrew Joyner completed the unfinished artwork.
"We're so excited to have 'Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum' to share with readers, and to give them an inside look at how Ted thought about art, and how he viewed the world—which was with a creative eye, and a passionate belief in imagination," said Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
In 2015, the posthumous release of Dr. Seuss' "What Pet Should I Get?" became a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School


Monday, March 4, 2019

March 4, 2019


   

4 life lessons I learned from reading Dr. Seuss books


When it comes to children’s books, Dr. Seuss is one of those authors who has maintained a spot-on bookshelf across generations. His unique literary style remains relevant to new generations of kids and in hearts of their parents and grandparents, too.

A big reason for this success is probably because his books are simply fun to read, with their rhyming phrases, made-up words, and quirky illustrations. However, another reason they’ve continued to be popular is that teachers, librarians, and parents all agree his books teach important life lessons.  
Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about how many lessons one can take home from his books until recently. When I was reading books like The Lorax and The Cat in the Hat as a kid, I focused on the fun, silliness of the books: the wacky characters, colors, and rhymes. Not realizing the deeper meaning, I was interpreting. Now looking back on some of my favorites, I see the powerful ideas sprinkled throughout.
To celebrate Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ 114 birthday, here are a few of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes and the lessons they taught me:
The Lorax
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
In The Lorax, Dr. Seuss shares a story of a world overrun with greed and environmental turmoil. Through sharing wise words from the Lorax, Seuss empowers young readers, telling them that if they let their passion guide them, they have the power to change the world.

Happy Birthday to You!


Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.
In Happy Birthday to You! Dr. Seuss celebrates individuality, telling readers about a world where a friendly bird organizes a party for everyone on their birthday with all of their favorite things. In this quote, Seuss lets readers know that they are unique and that it is something to be proud of.

Horton Hears a Who!


Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small!
In Horton Hears a Who!, Dr. Seuss highlights the importance of supporting others, even when they might be a little different from you. Even though Horton can’t quite relate to the experiences of the Who’s, he does everything he can to ensure their safety.

I Can Read with My Eyes Shut

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
This quote might be one of my favorites. In I Can Read with My Eyes Shut, Seuss informs readers on how magical and important reading can be. The quote is self-explanatory; reading is the key to success!



Enjoy,



Monday, February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019



When you walk into a good preschool classroom, you will see varied learning areas; a variety of opportunities for students to explore their developing skills playfully. Youwill see materials that have more than one way to be used and children who are engaged with these materials. Most importantly you will see a teacher playing with her students. What you may not see but is present in a good preschool classroom is a teacher carefully selecting the materials, to fit the students’ specific developmental levels. You may not see that when that teacher is playing, he is shifting how he speaks, what questions he asks, and how he models using the materials based on the child using it. This is differentiation in preschool.


Differentiation means adjusting or changing the lesson and its goals based on the specific needs of the learner. In a playful preschool environment, differentiation is subtle and takes some practice to do well, but once you get in the habit, it’s second nature.
                               


WHY DIFFERENTIATE?
“…just because there is a predictable pattern to growth, and a predictable season for blooming, doesn’t mean that every flower on the plant will bloom on the same day.  Each flower opens at its own rate within the growing season.  For a flower, the season for blooming may be a matter of weeks or months.  In child development, some seasons may even last a few years.” – Amanda Morgan Not Just Cute

Children are simply not ready for the same things at the same time. As preschool teachers, we should be meeting our students where they are at with an eye to the next stage. Our job is to be thinking of how we can support, not force them to get there. In any preschool class no matter what school, geographic area, or socioeconomic class you will find a wide range of abilities, this is normal. Differentiation allows you to provide a rich experience for all your students.

Differentiation may seem like a lot of work, but it makes your job easier, I promise. When the materials and activities are differentiated, they fit your students’ needs. And that fit equals better engagement, less frustration, and less boredom. You can probably guess what this means… WAY better behavior, giving you as a teacher more time to focus on connecting with the students through play.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

January 22, 2019





What are Sight Words?

Successful readers use several tools to help them understand texts. One of the most effective and powerful reading tools that parents, and teachers can help children develop is sight word recognition. When a child can grasp and identify sight words, he is well on his way to becoming a thriving reader.

Believe it or not, 50% of all reading texts are made up of the same 100 words! The most frequently used and repeated words in the English language are known as sight words. This list of words includes the, a, is, of, to, in, and, I, you, and that. Think about the number of times that you have seen these words in a piece of reading material. It’s probably too many times to count.

Sight words are critical to reading not only because they are used so frequently, but also because many of them cannot easily be sounded out or illustrated. Imagine what reading would be like if you attempted to sound out walk every time you encountered it in your reading. Then imagine that you do not know the word the. You cannot use the pictures accompanying a text to help you decipher this word because it cannot be illustrated. Using phonics or picture reading skills for words like these is useless and fruitless for readers, especially those who are in the early stages of developing their decoding skills.

Because they are used so often it is important that readers be able to recognize these words on sight (hence the term “sight words”). When a reader masters sight words she can understand at least half of the words in a text. By eliminating the need to decode these words, the reader can focus on those that are more difficult and less familiar. Beyond this, sight words offer important clues about the meaning of a sentence. For example, when a reader can identify and understand the word and, in a sentence, he knows that there will be multiple figures, actions or descriptors in the sentence. Similarly, if the reader sees the word into in the sentence, she knows there is movement from one location or idea to another.

When a reader masters sight words her memory automatically brings the sound and meaning of the word into the person’s consciousness. The action is so unconscious that she doesn’t even realize it is happening. In fact, researchers found that when they presented readers with illustrations of some sight words along with the written word s, the readers could not avoid looking at the words. They used the written words rather than the illustrations to determine meaning because their brains were “trained” to read these words.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 14-18, 2019



Reading Readiness: The Top 5 Skills

Did you know that there are five skills your child should master before you begin formal reading instruction? Because these reading readiness skills are so important, we call them The Big Five Skills.

Although much of your child’s learning comes naturally as he plays and experiences life, there are some skills, like reading, that must eventually be taught. That may feel a little scary, but if you’ve taught your child how to pick up his toys or put on his socks, you can teach your child to read, too!


5 Critical Skills for Reading Readiness

Print Awareness
Print awareness is the understanding that the print on a page represents words that have meaning and are related to spoken language.
To develop this skill:
Open book: Help your child learn how to hold a book correctly.
As you read books together, emphasize the fact that you’re reading from front to back and from left to right. Let your child turn the pages.
As your child helps you in the kitchen, point out the names on the food boxes and cans and the ingredients as you read your recipe.
Point out and read road signs and store signs as you travel in the car.


Letter Knowledge: Letter knowledge enables a child to recognize the letters of the alphabet and to know the names and sounds of each.
To develop this skill:
Friendly letter A: Sing the alphabet song together. Practice starting at different letters.
Use activities that help children recognize both uppercase and lowercase letters.
Begin to encourage an association between letter names and the sounds they make.
Explore the alphabet with refrigerator magnets.
Create the alphabet with building blocks or form letters with playdough.

Phonological Awareness
It’s a big term, but it’s quite basic. Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and identify the various sounds in spoken words.
To develop this skill:
Dog with perked ear: Read lots of nursery rhymes and rhyming picture books together. Encourage your child to anticipate rhyme as you read together.
Play clapping and rhyming games like Miss Mary Mack and Pat-a-Cake.
Sing silly songs by changing the first sound in some of the words. For example, sing, “Bingle bells, bingle bells, bingle all the bay,” or “If you’re chappy and you chow it, chap your chands.”
Play games that encourage children to identify words that begin with a specific letter sound. For example, say, “I spy with my little eye a color that starts with /r/.”

Listening Comprehension
Listening comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning of words heard and to relate to them in some way. A child with good listening comprehension has a wide vocabulary and a growing understanding of the world around him.
To develop this skill:
World globe: Read aloud to your children daily. Read books that are in line with your child’s interests, so he begins to realize that there is a benefit to learning to read.
Encourage even young children to interact with books.
Attend story time at the library.
Let your child see you enjoying books.
Make read-aloud time an enjoyable shared time. Here are some picture book lists to get you started.

Motivation to Read
Motivation to read is a child’s eagerness and willingness to read.
To encourage your child:
Smiling cartoon boy
Read both fiction and nonfiction books to your child.
As you read, ask open-ended questions. For example, ask “What do you think is going to happen when we turn the page?” or “Why did the boy go outside?”
Use everyday life experiences to build your child’s vocabulary.
Encourage imaginative play and storytelling.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant principal

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dec.4, 2018




CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS AROUND 
THE WORLD

It's almost Christmas, and according to some people, it's "the most wonderful time of the year."

Here are Christmas celebrations that are found around the world.

ARMENIA
Some Armenians choose to fast the week before Christmas. Then, they break their fast with a light Christmas Eve meal called "khetum," which includes rice, fish, chickpeas, yogurt soup, dried nuts and grape jelly desserts.

SOUTH AFRICA
Why have eggnog and pumpkin pie when you can celebrate Christmas by eating plump, fuzzy caterpillars, aka Emperor Moths? Don't worry, they're fried in oil, so you know it's good... right?

UKRAINE
The Ukrainians use fake spider webs to cover their trees.
Why? According to legend, a poor widower had no money to decorate the family's tree. Some friendly spiders were grief-stricken when they saw the widow and her crying children, so at night, when everyone was asleep, they decorated the tree with silver and gold.
After that, the poor family became prosperous, lucky and never had a financial woe, ever again. Thus, a spider web-covered tree signifies prosperity and wealth for the next year.

VENEZUELA
On Christmas Eve, Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, closes its streets so everyone and anyone can make their way to church.

INDIA
India is one of the most populous countries in the world, meaning that translates to 25 million people who celebrate Christmas.
Due to lack of fir and pine trees in the region, Indians use banana or mango trees as a substitute.

PHILIPPINES
You won't find stockings hanging on chimneys in the Philippines. Rather, kids will polish their shoes and leave them by the window sills, so when the Three Kings walk by at night, they'll leave presents.

IRELAND
Rather than milk and cookies for Santa, it's all about Christmas pudding made with Guinness or Irish Whiskey. This tradition also carries over to the UK.
Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Nov. 8, 2018





Technology in the Classroom

One Person’s Point of View:

By Robert Holl


I have seen many changes impacting how instruction is delivered, and nothing has impacted change more than technology and the internet. As with most change, there have been both positive and negative outcomes. Whether a given change is positive or negative will often depend on one’s own perspective.

My name is Robert Holland my career, upon graduating from college, began as a classroom teacher and then transitioned into various facets of educational publishing. These varied experiences have affected my point of view and influenced my current thinking. However, the last 15 years, during which I founded and grew the Learning A-Z Publishing Company and developed hundreds of classroom resources, have led me to appreciate more fully how technology can assist teachers and improve learning for students.

As a publisher of learning resources and as a former classroom teacher, I have always believed that it is vital to never lose sight of the teacher’s significance in and out of the classroom. I have carefully weighed every product development decision to ensure that it strengthens a teacher’s instructional efficiency and effectiveness.

CLASSROOM TECH: TWO FACES


It seems to me that there are two faces of technology in the classroom. On the one side, I have come to believe that overuse of technology can have a dehumanizing effect. But on the other hand, I also have come to believe that technology can help personalize learning, promote interaction and engagement, and help improve motivation. From my point of view, we should not park students in front of a computer or other device and deliver technology-driven curriculum solutions that place limitations on human connections. This, I believe, would be detrimental to the development of the whole child. But there are countless benefits that support the use of technology in classrooms.

One of the most compelling benefits technology offers is its ability to save teachers time and deliver resources economically. Take, for example, books and other resources needed to build reading skills, grow knowledge, and motivate readers. Today’s teachers can have a library of electronic books delivered directly to their classroom as PDF documents that can be printed and made into low-cost books for their students to read in the classroom or at home.

These same books can be assigned as eBooks to read on any type of device. Teachers can also project these books within whole-class and small-group instructional settings. Never have so many books and other reading resources, in multiple formats, been so readily accessible to teachers and their students – developmentally appropriate books aligned with students’ interest.

Technology-enhanced text resources can have many embedded tools to support and guide the reader. For example, an audio track for listening to the entire text with words and phrases highlighted so the student can follow along can be especially helpful to struggling readers and English language learners. In addition, words that are unknown and difficult to pronounce can be selected for a pronunciation and a definition. EBooks can also have recording features for students to record their reading of text and then play it back to self-monitor fluency. They can also send a recorded reading to their teacher who can then listen and monitor student progress.
Student engagement and interactivity with text can be facilitated by highlighting and other mark-up tools, notetaking and journaling features, as well as embedded prompts for students to respond to as they read. These tools and features can enhance comprehension and free up the teacher to interact more personally with students who need extra help.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Monday, October 22, 2018

October 22, 2018




The Importance of Listening Skills for Your Preschool Child’s Learning and Development





Most people know that hearing and speech are very important in a child’s development. What is as important is the skill of listening. Some people think hearing and listening are the same skill, but they are not. Hearing is simply the physical act of receiving sound stimulation through the ear and sending it to the brain for reception. Listening, however, involves a mental process of tuning into a sound, recognizing its importance, and interpreting the information at the brain. For the developing child, both hearing and listening are important, since a child can have good hearing, and not have good listening skills.

The ability to detect a sound is hearing, and the ability to attach meaning to it is the foundation for development. This is listening. Sounds are not only speech sounds. Sounds are all around us. Before a child learns to produce speech sounds, they begin to respond to sounds in their environment—responding to their mother’s voice, or a dog barking, or a baby crying.

These sounds imprint their brain with rhythm, inflection, pitch, intensity changes and more. These sounds prepare the way for the ear to respond to incoming speech sounds.

The ear is also one’s balance and coordination center. Often, weak early motor skills suggest the possibility of future weak listening skills. The ear, through vibrational stimulation, also impacts all of one’s senses, either directly or indirectly, so poor listening skills often accompany children who have sensory integration or sensory processing issues. Sometimes, children are too sensitive to sound, or crave vestibular sensation like spinning, or enjoy more than normal, hugs or squeezes. These needs are all directly related to how sound stimulation is sent to the brain through the ear.

Listening skills become extremely important when the child enters a learning environment such as a preschool. They are equally important to their social development as they attend and participate in conversations. Listening to spoken language is an integral part of developing speech, language, and communication. A preschool child also enjoys listening to music, songs, and stories. Some children enjoy music but can’t listen to conversation for long periods of time. Other children can listen and attend only if a visual picture is also present like the television. Each of these children have different listening skills, some of which can have a negative response in a school environment.

Mastering listening skills include developing auditory perceptual skills such as auditory detection, discrimination, recognition, sequencing, and memory. The blend of these skills allows for vocabulary development, proper grammar skills, future reading skills, and the ability to listen in background noise. These skills, when weak, can be enhanced by repatterning how the ear responds to surrounding sounds. The best time to repattern these skills is during the preschool years, as the brain is still growing. This can be done with repetitive activities that exercise the specific weaknesses over a long period of time. Speech Pathologists help develop communication skills, also typically over a long period of time.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Monday, October 15, 2018

October 15, 2018


Creativity and Play



Creativity is the freest form of self-expression. There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling for children than to be able to express themselves openly and without judgment. The ability to be creative, to create something from personal feelings and experiences, can reflect and nurture children's emotional health. The experiences children have during their first years of life can significantly enhance the development of their creativity.


Importance of the Creative Process
All children need to be truly creative is the freedom to commit themselves completely to the effort and make whatever activity they are doing their own. What's important in any creative act is the process of self-expression. Creative experiences can help children express and cope with their feelings. A child's creative activity can help teachers to learn more about what the child may be thinking or feeling. Creativity also fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Creative activities help acknowledge and celebrate children's uniqueness and diversity as well as offer excellent opportunities to personalize our teaching and focus on each child.




Opportunities for Creativity

Children need plenty of opportunities for creative play and creative thinking. Start by providing activities that are based on the children's interests and ideas. This means learning how to listen intently to what children are saying. It is very helpful to tape record and transcribe children's conversations as well as take notes and review them with your co-teachers.
 Be sure to offer children a wide range of creative materials and experiences. Being creative is more than drawing or painting. There's also photography, music, field trips, working with wire, clay, paper, wood, water or shadows. The possibilities are endless. It's important to provide children lots of time to explore materials and pursue their ideas. This includes time to think about how to plan, design, construct, experiment and revise project ideas. Don't forget to build in time to talk these ideas over with other people - both teachers and children.

Varieties of Experience
Look for ways to provide multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and other community experiences for children. Activities such as field trips, celebrating holidays and activities with other ethnic groups, and encouraging children to bring visitors to school enhances the creative process. The more varied experiences children have in their lives, the wider the range of creative expression. The more personal experiences children have with people and situations outside of their own environment, the more material they can draw on to incorporate in their play. Our challenge is to try not to be intimidated by the variety and diversity of artistic expression in our classroom.

Fostering the Creative Process
Encouraging children to make their own choices is important. Children should be permitted frequent opportunities - and lots of time - to experience and explore expressive materials. Put your emphasis on the process of creativity and not on the finished product. What children learn and discover about themselves is vital to their development. Show your support for the creative process by appreciating and offering support for children's efforts. Independence and control are important components in the creative process.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, October 8, 2018

October 8, 2018





WHY BOOKS MATTER…….




We find that books in the home have a positive payoff in improved test scores throughout the world,” writes a research team led by University of Nevada-Reno sociologist Mariah Evans. “The relationship is strong, clear, and statistically significant in every one of the 42 nations (we studied).”
Evans made this same point in a 2010 study, which found “home library size has a very substantial effect on educational attainment.” Her new research confirms that conclusion using data from even a larger number of nations—42, rather than the 27 in the earlier report.


"REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY BOOKS THE FAMILY ALREADY HAS, EACH ADDITION TO THE HOME LIBRARY HELPS CHILDREN DO BETTER (ON THE STANDARD TEST)."


“They enhance the academic performance of children from families as all educational and occupation levels,” the researchers write, “but the enhancement is greater for families with little education and low-status occupations.”
Evans and colleagues Jonathan Kelley and Joanna Sikora examined data from the Program for International Student Assessment, a project of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Academic achievement of participating students (most of whom were 15 years old at the time of the study) was determined by a test that the researchers describe as “carefully designed, comprehensive, structured to minimize class and ethnic bias, and anonymously graded.”
Data was also collected on family demographics, as well as the number of books in the student’s family home. (There was no information available on the specific types of volumes.)
The results were unambiguous: “Regardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to the home library helps children do better (on the standard test),” Evans and her colleagues report.
 “A home with books as an integral part of the way of life encourages children to read for pleasure and encourages discussion among family members about what they have read," Evans and her colleagues write, "thereby providing children with information, vocabulary, imaginative richness, wide horizons, and skills for discovery and play.”
They concede that their research leaves something of a chicken-and-egg question: Are books in the home merely an indication of that sort of “scholarly culture,” or does their presence create an intellectually stimulating family environment?
While the answer isn’t clear, the researchers point to recent research suggesting that “books themselves do matter.”
Being read to, reading for yourself, discussing what you’ve read—that’s the sort of positive spiral that can lead to greater academic achievement years down the line. The Cat in the Hat may turn out to be the catalyst between the covers.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, September 24, 2018

September 24, 2018






PHONEMIC AWARENESS

Phonemic Awareness is an important early reading skill for preschoolers and kindergarteners to develop. It is the ability to play with sounds in a variety of ways to manipulate, substitute, and hear isolated sounds. It is also an essential skill to develop before a student can learn to read.

Many of the students who have phonics difficulties also had an underdeveloped phonemic awareness. They could not isolate and blend sounds. They just didn’t have enough practice in listening to and playing with sounds, apart from the letters.
When a five-year-old enters kindergarten, their phonemic awareness skills need to be as strong as ever. Phonemic Awareness is an important early reading skill for preschoolers and kindergarteners to develop.

WHAT IS PHONEMIC AWARENESS?
In the simplest of terms, it is an awareness of sounds. It is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes, which are the smallest units of sound that have meaning.
One very important thing to emphasize is that phonemic awareness is done without letters. It is all sound. Once you add letters, it becomes phonics. Students need a strong phonemic awareness foundation before you add phonics on top of it.

COMPONENTS OF PHONEMIC AWARENESS

RHYMING / ALLITERATION
Rhyming is one of the earlier phonemic awareness skills to develop. It is present in most of our nursery rhymes and songs for young children. Alliteration is like rhyming, but on the other side of the word.
Rhyming is a difficult skill to learn for some readers, especially for English learners. Although rhyming is a phonemic awareness skill, I wouldn’t focus intervention on it. Teach it, yes. Do songs, poems, and rhymes in your classroom, yes. However, if a student is not able to produce rhyming words after some instruction, I would move into the other phonemic awareness skills. Is Rhyming Ability Important in Reading? is a great article about how much emphasis to put on rhyming. The basic conclusion is that the other components of phonemic awareness are more influential in reading success than rhyming.

ORAL BLENDING & SEGMENTING
Oral blending is the ability to put units of sounds together.  Oral Segmenting is the ability to break a word apart into the units of sound. For example, say the word cat. Tell me the sounds in cat. /k/ /a/ /t/.  Both segmenting and blending should be practiced regularly.
Start with compound words, like pancake, then move onto (2) two-syllable words, then onto (3) cvc words with continuous sounds. Finally do (4) open syllables, (5) cvc with stop sounds, and (6) long vowel patterns.

INITIAL, FINAL, MEDIAL SOUND ISOLATION & IDENTIFICATION
Consonant isolation is the ability to tell the first sound of a word. For instance, say the word cat, tell me the first sound, /k/? Teach and practice the initial, final and then medial sounds. Start with consonants in the initial and final positions before you work on the vowels.

DELETION
Deletion is the ability to remove a sound from a word and tell what is left. For instance, say the word cat. Remove the /k/. What is left?

SUBSTITUTION
Substitution is like deletion, but a little more advanced. It requires a student to remove a sound and place another sound in its place. For instance, say the word cat. Replace the /k/ with /b/. What do you have?

PHONEMIC AWARENESS ACTIVITIES
Most phonemic awareness actives should be done daily for short intervals of time throughout the day. The point is short, frequent interactions with the sounds to build competency, moving from simple cvc words to more complex blends. Also move from simple rhyming and identification tasks to segmenting, blending, deletion and substitution tasks.
Which words do you choose? Choose words based on the activities that you’re doing in class and stories that you’re already reading with students. Pull words that are familiar to students and play around with the words.  Having some familiarity with the words will help students break them apart into their sounds.

 TIPS
  1.          Be sure you are pronouncing the sounds consistently and accurately.  The stop sounds are the most difficult, because we want to put an /uh/ sound after them, like buh. Do your best to isolate the sound. Like for /p/, put your hand in front of your mouth and feel the air. It’s quick.  Likewise, exaggerate the continuous sounds more than usual. Like, /m/ should be mmmmmmmmmmmm . . . emphasize that it’s a continuous sound. This over emphasis will pay off when you get to blending.
  2.      Use the letter sound, not the name, when you’re working on phonemic awareness skills. Using the sound consistently helps students form a pattern isolating the sound.
  3.  Do not use letters or symbols. I said this earlier, but this is an important distinction. Phonemic awareness is the awareness of sound without letters. When you add letters, it becomes phonics.
  4.   Pictures help, especially for English learners or students with speech problems. If you can find a good source for pictures of common cvc words. Picture Sorting for Phonemic Awareness has some good pictures in it.
  5.  Use the full body. Have students hold up their fist and then fingers to isolate sounds. I would have them put their hands together with the finger tips touching and draw them apart to blend sounds slowly. (Slinkies are a great tool for this, too!) Have students hop each sound. Draw some boxes or dots onto floor and have students hop or walk the sounds. Clap hands for sounds or syllables.

·         Pay attention to your students. Assessments help to understand where a student is in their phonemic awareness journey. Can they rhyme? Identify initial, final, and medial sounds? Can they delete sounds? Substitute sounds? I know assessments are a lot of work, but they also give you a lot of information, if they’re the right assessment, and can guide your instruction to make it meaningful, focused and valuable for most students in your classroom. Assessments will also tell you which students are not successful, so you can focus more targeting instruction with them in small groups.

·         If something is not working, try something else. There is no right way to teach phonemic awareness for all students. Some things will click for some students and other things for other students. The point is that students are learning to play with sounds and learning how to blend and segment sounds, so that they can apply those skills to reading and phonics instruction.


Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra