Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17, 2017




Why Art and Creativity Are Important

Your preschooler is having a blast finger-painting with a mix of colors. Little kids are masters of the moment -- they love the way it feels when they smear paint on paper, how it looks when they sprinkle glitter, and even the soft sound a brush makes as it crosses the page, says Amy Yang, founder of Brooklyn Design Lab, an art school for children. Unlike older kids and adults, most toddlers and preschoolers aren't self-conscious about what they're doing or focused on creating a finished product. Allowing kids to enjoy the process of creation -- can reap big rewards. "Children will be better off overall if they're allowed just to be in the moment and express themselves," she says.

Why Art?

Fostering creativity won't just increase your child's chances of becoming the next Picasso. You're also helping him develop mentally, socially, and emotionally, says Ecklund-Flores. Creating art may boost young children's ability to analyze and problem-solve in myriad ways, according to Mary Ann F. Kohl, author of Primary Art: It's the Process, Not the Product. As kids manipulate a paintbrush, their fine motor skills improve. By counting pieces and colors, they learn the basics of math. When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science. Most important perhaps, when kids feel good while they are creating, art helps boost self-confidence. And children who feel able to experiment and to make mistakes feel free to invent new ways of thinking, which extends well beyond the craft room.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra

EC Assistant Principal

Monday, November 6, 2017

November 6, 2017




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 23, 2017

October 23, 2017




STRATEGIES THAT DEVELOP 10 AS A BENCHMARK NUMBER


Students work with tens as they explore place value, ten frames, and hundred charts.  Our entire number system is built from a system of tens. Developing a solid understanding of 10 as a benchmark number and how it works within our number system is key for students’ mathematical development.  Counting by 10s and seeing how each decade is organized builds numeracy, but it also supports students as they begin to add and subtract larger numbers.

Helping students develop the idea of 10 as a benchmark number is so important in our number system. First grade math and the beginning of second grade math reinforce this important addition fact concept. Encourage students to Make 10 and Use 10 when adding.
When you teach students math facts, do you help students understand, learn, and develop strategies for solving different math facts?  Do you work on memorizing math facts with a variety of flash cards and games?  Or do you do a combination of teaching strategies and fact memorization?


WHY SHOULD I TEACH STUDENTS STRATEGIES TO SOLVE MATH FACTS?

Many students come into second grade still counting on their fingers when adding larger numbers. They need to move toward more efficient strategies, but they’re glued to their fingers because it’s safe and easy.  Memorization may be difficult for them or maybe they haven’t had enough practice.

We help students develop fluency with basic facts so that they can learn to think strategically.  In between a student who counts each object and a student who has a fact memorized, are students who are using a variety of strategies to solve problems. Strategies help students find the answers to math facts, even if they forget. Strategies also transfer from solving one-digit problems to solving larger, multi-digit problems.

Students need to understand the value of using 10 as a benchmark number when adding within 20,  to aid in math fact memorization, but also so that they can transfer that skill when adding within 100, and again transfer it to adding within 1000.  Using tens to solve basic math facts not only helps students develop a strategy for solving facts they may not have memorized, but it leads toward students being able to solve two- and three-digit addition problems.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 11, 2017


3 Easy Steps to Write your Name


Recognition
The first stage of learning names occurs when children start to recognize them! Young children begin to recognize the shape of their initial letter and often identify that first letter as “MY NAME!” They might find that initial letter in other places (separate from their names), point to it and say, “Look! There’s my name!” even if it is just the one letter.
In preschool, we can do lots of things to foster children’s recognition of their names. We label everything (lockers, change of clothes cubbies, snack chairs, carpet squares, folders, attendance chart, helper chart, and the alphabet wall) with their names and pictures, so that they begin to claim ownership of that very important word!
We use circle time as an opportunity to practice recognizing not only the child’s own name, but the names of all the classmates as well. With repeated exposure and practice recognizing each other’s names, the children begin to identify letters.

Spelling
The next step, after children can recognize their names is to begin to spell them orally. We practice this in many ways. A child might be able to recite, “E-T-H-A-N” without seeing it written down. Then they will notice each letter. We provide a name activity like this one each morning for our students to practice. We practice with both capital letters, and we also practice matching capitals to lower case.


Writing
When the children are comfortable with recognizing and spelling their names, the next step is to work on writing them. Often these steps overlap and work in conjunction with each other! We give our children lots of opportunities to write their names with sidewalk chalk, paint, markers, in salt trays, etc. They are also work on strengthening their hand muscles and refining their fine motor skills. Our older Pre-K students (less than 1 year to kindergarten) also sign in their names each morning. It’s such a rewarding way to keep track of their progress. When children begin to write, they often use what they already know about names.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal



Monday, September 25, 2017

September 25, 2017


Why Are Best Practices Important?


Thomas L. Friedman, author of The World Is Flat, refers to a twenty-first century world that will be very different from the one in which we were educated. To survive in a new, globally competitive world, today's children will need creativity, problem-solving abilities, a passion
for learning, a dedicated work ethic and lifelong learning opportunities. Students can develop these abilities through instruction based on Best Practice teaching strategies.


What Are Best Practices?

Best practices are an inherent part of a curriculum that exemplifies the connection and relevance identified in educational research. They interject rigor into the curriculum by developing thinking and problem-solving skills through integration and active learning.
Relationships are built through opportunities for communication and teamwork. Best practices are applicable to all grade levels and provide the building blocks for instruction.
Best practices motivate, engage, and prompt students to learn and achieve. Students who receive a balanced curriculum and possess the knowledge, skills and abilities to transfer and connect ideas and concepts across disciplines will be successful as measured by standardized tests and other indicators of student success. Four best practices for teachers include teaching a balanced curriculum, teaching an integrated curriculum, differentiating instruction to meet individual student needs and providing active learning opportunities for students to internalize learning.


What Do Best Practices Look Like?

Classrooms that exemplify best practices are easy to detect as soon as you enter the room.
• Project materials and books are numerous.
• Students are engaged and focused on their work.
• Teachers often use collaborative and/or authentic tasks that place students at the
center of the learning process.
• Seating arrangements are clustered, varied, and functional with multi-instructional areas.
• Classrooms are activity-based spaces as opposed to places to “sit and get” lectures.
• Teachers are actively engaged with different groups and students are anxious to enlist visitors in their various tasks or assignments.
• There is a joyful feeling of purposeful movement, industrious thinking and a vital and vibrant atmosphere and environment.


Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Pincipal


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September 18, 2017





Why are Stories Important for Children?

Stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. The books they read and the characters they get to know can become like friends. It’s also good for children to understand that books are a useful source of information and that good reading skills are important for success in their future lives. Reading also helps children with their confidence levels, coping with feelings and language and learning.

Confidence Levels

Children who can read well are more likely to have higher confidence levels. This will benefit them in school as they’ll feel able to participate fully in activities. Another part of building confidence and self-esteem is knowing where you fit into the world. Stories can help with this process by showing children what people’s lives are like where they live and in other parts of the world.

Language and Learning

Stories are a great way to introduce new words and ideas into a child’s language – starting with picture books for the very young, working up to more complex novels for teenagers. Stories can help children learn about concepts such as shape, size, space and color, up and down, inside and outside, numbers and the names of objects. They can also teach children about everyday tasks, such as how to brush their teeth, taking care of animals, cleaning and tidying and preparing food.
Stories are also useful for teaching more complex ideas, such as the importance of sharing, the passage of time, compassion for others. They can be useful when trying to explain traumatic events, such as family break-ups and bereavement.

Fiction based on real-life can also help children with their own life experience – it shows them how diverse the world is and that some people’s lives are vastly different to theirs.
And what’s so great about learning through stories is that the process is done in a natural way. There’s no actual teaching involved at all, they learn from simply reading the story.

Relaxation

Reading stories can be helpful for relaxation, before bedtime for example. They allow children to forget the stresses and strains of the day and indulge in fantasy for a while. The soothing familiarity of a much-loved story, the rhyming and repetition in a picture book, plus the sense of security that time spent reading together can foster, all help the child to relax.

Development of Imagination

Stories help to develop a child’s imagination by introducing new ideas into their world – ideas about fantastical worlds, other planets, different points in time and invented characters. It’ll encourage the children to realize that they can, and should, imagine anything they want. The beauty of stories is that they can be super realistic or incredibly fantastical. They can be reading about children growing up in the same situation as them one minute and about another species, Martians holidaying on Jupiter for example, the next.

Coping With Feelings

When children read stories that contain feelings it can help them understand and accept their own feelings. It helps them understand that there are other children who feel the same way and they are not alone. This helps the child understand that feelings are normal and should be expressed. Watching their responses to the feelings of the characters in the stories will give you some idea of how a child feels about certain situations and emotions. For example, how the child responds to the character in the story feeling sad or scared will give you some idea of how the child thinks.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 28, 2017




Learning should be fun to grab students' interest with engaging lessons

If the longstanding TV program Sesame Street teaches anything, it is that kids don't need dry lessons and humorless lectures to learn. In fact, when teachers add fun activities to their classroom agendas, they ignite kids' natural curiosity about more than just the three R's.
And that's not the only reason learning should be fun. The real benefit is that when children are taught early on to enjoy learning, they'll make it a lifelong habit. 

Learning Fun: What It Is and Isn't

When teachers talk about fun lesson plans, they don't mean replacing traditional school work with back-to-back board games. Nor do they mean diluting academic standards to the point that coloring within the lines can substitute for having to write grammatically correct sentences.
What fun learning does mean is that teachers use non-traditional lessons to teach essential skills. Why non-traditional? Because allowing students to create a PowerPoint presentation rather than draft a five-paragraph essay allows them to demonstrate knowledge of a topic that might not grab their interest in a way that does.

Naturally Curious

The theory behind educational fun comes down to this: children are born with a hunger for knowledge about the world around them. Fun learning is based on a fact that's almost inarguable: learning doesn't begin on the first day of kindergarten. It starts at birth. The 100 million or so cells in a newborn's brain allow infants to soak in knowledge just by observing the world, by hearing the sound made by a rattle or seeing their mother's face.
As babies grow, their natural curiosity about the world they've been observing leads them to make discoveries. They discover, for example, what happens when they trap a lightning bug in a jar or stick a fork into an electric outlet. These natural desires children have -- to observe, explore, and discover -- are traits teachers are hoping to provoke when they design classwork around fun activities.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra

EC Assistant Principal

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017

Is my Child Ready for Preschool? 10 Step Checklist





Is your child preschool ready?
Is your child ready for preschool in the Fall? We know that it’s only May, but it’s never too early to assess whether or not your child will be preschool ready in August. And, with Summer fast approaching, there is plenty of opportunity to work with your child to refine his or her basic skills which are often referred to as “school-readiness” skills. All children develop on their own unique schedule! If he’s not there yet, be patient, he will be soon!

When your child starts school at any age, whether it’s preschool, kindergarten or beyond, he is expected to have certain basic skills already mastered. Sure, there will be a few that are not done perfectly, but essentially your child should be able to complete age-appropriate skills before entering school. We’ve put together a list of skills and chores that your child should be able to accomplish that indicate if your child is preschool ready. Every child develops at his or her own pace, so don’t panic if your child is not hitting all the milestones yet. These act as general guidelines to give you an idea of what your child’s preschool teacher will be looking for when school begins.

Preschool Readiness Checklist

Emotional Development
Recognizes other people’s emotions
Takes turns and is able to share toys

Attention & Independence
Listens to simple instructions
Sits still during story time
Can separate himself from you for a few hours
Enjoys doing things herself sometimes, such as getting dressed on her own

Language, Art, and Math
Recognizes some shapes and colors
Recites the alphabet and recognize some letters
Expresses thoughts and needs verbally
Recites his full name
Counts to five
Draws with crayons or pencils

Many preschool teachers agree that a child’s preschool readiness depends more on his or her individual personality and temperament than her so-called “academic” abilities. Kids Soup offers a comprehensive Preschool and Kindergarten Readiness Checklist. The more prepared you and your child are as Summer comes to and end and as we approach the school year, the smoother and happier the experience will be. If you find that your child still has some work to do, use the summer to improve his skills with fun games.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017

Internet Dangers Parents Need to Be Aware Of



5 Reasons Why the Internet Can Be Dangerous for Children and Teens

As important as it is to hear that your child can find themselves in trouble online, if you do not know what internet safety steps can help to protect them, you may be looking for more information.  You also may be curious as to what it is about the internet that can be so dangerous.  For your convenience, five reasons why internet use can be dangerous for children and teenagers are highlighted below.

1 – False Identities Are Easy to Create Making new friends online is easy and convenient, but it is much different than doing so in person.  Why?  Because you can’t see who is at the other end of the

computer.  The internet makes it easy for someone to be anyone else in the world.  For example, if your child is using social networking websites online, they must enter in their age.  They could easily lie themselves or they could be talking to someone else who is.

2 – Internet Predators As it was previously stated, the internet makes it easy to create a new, false identity.  Often, the individuals who lie about their ages are internet predators.  They are the ones who target children, like yours.  Unfortunately, many children, teenagers, and their parents cannot tell an internet predator until it is too late, like when the predators try to approach your child or contact them in person.

3 – So Many Websites to Choose from What is nice about the internet is that you have so many websites to choose from.  In fact, that is why it is a good way to research school projects.  With that said, having so many websites to choose from can be dangerous.  Your child can gain access to social networking websites, adult chat rooms, pornographic websites, and websites that are violent in nature.

4 – Not All Information Is Private Unfortunately, many individuals, including both children and parents, do not know that the information that is posted online isn’t always private.  For starters, most teens have their Myspace profiles set to public, as opposed to private.  This means that anyone can view it.  There are also online message boards that are indexed by the search engines.  This means that others can view the conversations that were discussed, even years down the road.ntal controls set up, your child can easily access any type of website with a standard internet search.

5 – They Are in Control When your child uses the internet, they are the ones who are in control.  This can be okay if your child is older and mature, but you honestly never know.  You may ask your child not to communicate with strangers online, give out their phone numbers, or share pictures with strangers, but that doesn’t mean that they will follow your rules.  For that reason, if you do let your child use the internet, be sure to monitor their use.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School



Friday, May 5, 2017

May 5, 2017


Is your child ready for Preschool?


Starting preschool is such an exciting and momentous occasion! When children are 3-years-old, they are no longer toddlers. They are “big kids” ready to start preschool. As parents, we can help our children prepare for this next big step. As a preschool teacher and mom, I’ve had the advantage of seeing hundreds of kids start school.
The children who are most ready often have parents who do these 5 things:

1. Read!
If I was only allowed to give one piece of advice to parents it would be, “Read to your child.” Read every day. Have books in every room, in your purse, and in the car. Read favorite books so often that you and your child have them memorized. Visit the library often. 

2.Talk!
Developing your child’s oral language skills is a crucial part of preparing her for preschool. Turn off the movie in the car and engage your child in a discussion about the world around her. Ask questions. Talk about nature, and colors, and letters, and feelings. Put down your phone and listen when your child talks to you. Encourage your child to make eye contact and greet others with a “Hello” and a “Good Bye.” Don’t forget, foster oral language development at home!

3. Play!
Spend time every day on the floor playing with your child. Encourage pretend play and role playing. Get messy! Laugh and have fun together. Offer your child time to play by herself, giving her the opportunity to decide what to do. 

4. Encourage Independence!
Children who can take care of some of their personal needs do better at the beginning of preschool than children who rely on adults for everything. Make sure your child has shoes that she can put on herself. Allow extra time before you need to leave the house each day so that your child can put on her own shoes. Support your child in taking care of her own bathroom needs. If she asks help with her pants, or with wiping, try talking her through it rather than doing it all for her. Teach her to wash her own hands and flush the toilet. It’s not glamorous, but these are important skills in preschool! Here’s a very good list of ways to support self-help.

5. Practice!
Give your child time away from you. Practice separating and giving your child a little bit of space. If you anticipate separation anxiety, your child will be ok before the big day.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May 2, 2017

Technology in the Preschool Classroom

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Young children are born learners. They love to explore and soak in new experiences. Preschool teachers can use technology to enhance children'snatural curiosity. Not sure how to make this happen? Look at what technology in the preschool classroom looks like.

What is Technology?
When we talk about technology in education, we mean the use of tools or machines in classrooms. Think computers, tablets, and printers. In a preschool classroom, technology can take many forms. What does technology look like in a preschool classroom? Let's take a tour of Ms. Smith's classroom and see what she has going on.

Technology to Support Young Learners
The early years are all about figuring things out. Children are developing as learners as they investigate their world, and they're naturally curious about everything and explore how things work at every turn. Ms. Smith knows her students need technology, as they provide a way for her students to grow as investigative learners. As such, she uses technology to support learning, not merely as a teaching tool.
What types of technology does she have in her classroom? Look at some common types of preschool technology:

Computers
Ms. Smith's classroom has several different types of computers, electronic devices used to store and process data. Several desktop and laptop computers are available for the children to use for exploring programs related to science, language, and math. The students also have access to tablets, computer-like devices that responds to on-screen interaction instead of a mouse.
Tablets aid in introducing preschoolers to subjects like science and language.
tablet

Listening Devices
Young children enjoy listening to songs, books, poems, and stories. When a teacher isn't available to read with a student, they can listen on a digital player, like a compact disk player or electronic device such as an iPod. The children can listen as a group or wear headphones for private listening.

Recording Devices
Ms. Smith takes many opportunities to record her students in action. She uses digital cameras and videos of the children creating structures in the block area or putting on a play. Students also have access to these devices for making their own memories of events. Ms. Smith encourages the children to tap into their creativity when taking pictures and videos by making digital books and stories with their work.

Instructional Technology in Preschool
Ms. Smith is a well-informed teacher. She uses technology to help her plan lessons, instruct and record student progress. How does she do this? Her tool bag includes:

Document Camera
Many times, when showing her young students, a book or leaf, Ms. Smith hears 'I can't see!' Using a document camera helps solve this problem in a snap. A document camera is basically a digital overhead projector. An object can be placed in front of the camera and the image is enlarged and shown on a screen. Ms. Smith uses her document camera to show her whole class what the inside of a leaf looks like, or to read a story aloud so all students can clearly see print and pictures.
Data Processing
Even parents of preschool children want to know how their children are progressing. Ms. Smith records and collects data about her students - things like number sense or reading readiness indicators - and keeps them in a digital program meant for processing this information. This data processor helps her organize information and make it presentable to parents.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School



Friday, April 21, 2017

April 21, 2017


Five Reasons Why We Need Poetry in Schools

Let me start with this: We need poetry. We really do. Poetry promotes literacy, builds community, and fosters emotional resilience. It can cross boundaries that little else can. April is National Poetry Month.  Here are five reasons why we need poetry in our schools.

Reason #1: Poetry helps us know each other and build community.  Poetry can be used at the start of the year to learn about where students come from and who they are. Poetry can allow kids to paint sketches of their lives, using metaphor, imagery, and symbolic language to describe painful experiences, or parts of themselves that they're not ready to share. Poetry allows kids to put language to use-to make it serve a deep internal purpose, to break rules along the way, representation, community perhaps.

Reason #2: Poetry is rhythm and music and sounds and beats. Young children -- babies and preschoolers included -- may not understand all the words or meaning, but they'll feel the rhythms, get curious about what the sounds mean and perhaps want to create their own. It's the most kinesthetic of all literature, it's physical and full-bodied which activates your heart and soul and sometimes bypasses the traps of our minds and the outcome is that poetry moves us. Boys, too.

Reason #3: Poetry opens venues for speaking and listening, much neglected domains of a robust English Language Arts curriculum.

Reason #4: Poetry has space for English Language Learners. Furthermore, poetry is universal. ELLs can learn about or read poetry in their primary language, helping them bridge their worlds.

Reason #5: Poetry builds resilience in kids and adults; it fosters Social and Emotional Learning. A well-crafted phrase or two in a poem can help us see an experience in an entirely new way. We can gain insight that had evaded us many times, that gives us new understanding and strength.

A final suggestion about bringing poetry into your lives: don't analyze it, don't ask others to analyze it. Don't deconstruct it or try to make meaning of it. Find the poems that wake you up, that make you feel as if you've submerged yourself in a mineral hot spring or an ice bath; find the poems that make you feel (almost) irrational joy or sadness or delight. Find the poems that make you want to roll around in them or paint their colors all over your bedroom ceiling. Those are the poems you want to play with -- forget the ones that don't make sense. Find those poems that communicate with the deepest parts of your being and welcome them in.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Friday, April 7, 2017

April 7, 2017

How does phonemic awareness affect reading comprehension?




Phonemic awareness relates to reading comprehension as it is the first building block of the reading process, followed by phonics instruction. It is most effective when students master phonemic awareness skills by first grade. The results of the National Reading Panel’s study of phonemic awareness instruction demonstrated that, “Teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words was highly effective across all the literacy domains and outcomes. Without being able to recognize individual sounds in words, a reader is unable to sound out words. When the learner cannot decode (or sound out) words, he or she will be unable to understand the words in the text. If the reader does not know the words in the text, he or she will be unable to create meaning, or comprehend what he or she is reading.


The National Reading Panel’s extensive research has found, “A close relationship exists between fluency and reading comprehension. The conclusion of The Panel’s meta-analysis of fluency indicates that guided oral reading procedures have had, “A consistent, and positive impact on word recognition, fluency, and comprehension,”.  Additionally, there is a common misconception that fluency is automatic for students who have strong word-recognition skills. However, a study shows that “success in decoding and reading largely depends upon the child’s phonological processing skills,”.  Researchers indicate that automacy in word recognition is contingent upon phonemic awareness and phonological processing skills.


The National Reading Panel recognizes that, “Fluency is a critical component of skilled reading,”. After students have developed a basis in phonemic awareness and phonics, they are able to read more fluently. The National Reading Panel defines, “Fluent readers can read text with speed, accuracy, and proper expression,”. Phonemic awareness leads to phonics, phonics leads to fluency, and fluency leads to comprehension. Students can only accept responsibility for one’s own reading development after mastering the first building block of reading: phonemic awareness.

Phonemic Awareness & Adolescence
According to the National Reading Panel, educators should focus on teaching phoneme blending and phoneme segmentation to produce the most effective results of phonemic awareness. Only after developing a strong foundation of phonemic awareness can a reader successfully apply phonetic principles to language to enable word decoding and encoding.

Failure to read successfully is a problem that persists throughout adolescence. According to Royer, “Many adolescents and adults who graduate from adult basic-education programs – so the thesis of the present study– fail to attain automatic word recognition and therefore must expend considerable effort to understand texts they are trying to read,”. 

Overall, all the five elements of reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension—work together like the pieces of a puzzle. If one piece is missing, the reader is unable to construct adequate, accurate meaning from the text.

Enjoy,

Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 3, 2017

Five things to know about music and Early Literacy



Is there a particular song that lifts your spirits every time you hear it? Or one that always brings back not-too-fond memories?
According to a study, in addition to its ability to shift our mood and tap into our emotions, when you listen to music you also work better, you can exercise harder and longer, and you experience changes in blood pressure.
But did you know introducing kids to music instruction helps them develop early language and literacy skills?

1. Music instruction strengthens listening and attention skills.
We may be born with the ability to hear, but the ability to listen is not innate. Listening involves more than just hearing. It requires children to focus their minds on the sound perceived. The ability to pay attention is also a learned skill.

2. Music instruction improves phonological awareness.

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear sounds that make up words in 
spoken language. Through phonological awareness, children learn to associate sounds with symbols, and create links to word recognition and decoding skills necessary for reading.

3. Music instruction enriches print awareness.

Most children become aware of print long before they start school. They 
see print on signs and billboards, in storybooks, magazines, and newspapers. Awareness of print concepts provides the backdrop against which reading and writing are best learned.

4. Music instruction refines auditory discrimination and increases auditory sequencing ability.

The ability to recognize differences in phonemes (auditory discrimination), and the ability to remember or reconstruct the order of items in a list or the order of sounds in a word or syllable (auditory sequencing) are necessary for learning to read.

5. Music instruction enriches vocabulary

Most kids reach a phase of repeating everything they hear – even when 
it's something inappropriate. When learning songs that they recite over and over, the words in those songs become the building blocks of their vocabulary.

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 16, 2017

 3 Important Skills Needed for Reading

Rhyming Words


Rhyming words are words like rat and cat or even head and red. Rhyming words are words that have ending sounds that are similar. While there is such a thing as imperfect rhymes {words like home and bone, found in the song, “This Old Man”}, I like to focus more on the rhymes that end the same, like house/mouse or dog/frog. Rhyming words are not always spelled the same; they just need to sound the same. Here are some things we want kids to be able to do with rhyming words:
•       Recognize when words rhyme and when they don’t
•       Produce rhyming words {You ask: “What rhymes with cat?” and they answer, “Rat.”}
•       Play with rhyming words. Create a bunch of words that rhyme with the word, even silly ones.


Syllables


Syllables are the “big parts” in words. For example, words like cat or fish only have one syllable. Words like happy and table have two syllables. For those who find it tricky to hear syllables, I tell people to put their hand under their chin and count the times they “drop” their child when they say a word. Generally, this is the number of syllables the word has. Here are some things we want kids to be able to do with syllables:
•       Count the number of syllables in a word
•       Combine syllables to form a word. Example: “What word do you get when you put together the two parts, hap {pause here} py?”
•       Say the parts of a word when a syllable is dropped. For example, “What does it sound like when you say rainbow without the rain part?“


Phonemes


This is where I usually lose people. Phonemes. It sounds so teacher-y, doesn’t it? So, what exactly are phonemes? Phonemes are the
individual sounds in words. For example, the simple word cat has three phonemes {or individual sounds} /k/ – /a/ – /t/.
What makes this one a little tricky, especially for adults trying to teach phonemes, is that some words have more letters than phonemes. Take the word light, for example. While it has 5 letters, it only has three phonemes {or individual sounds}: /l/ – /i/ – /t/. We will explore more about phonemes on days 4-6 of this series. But for now, let’s see what we want kids to be able to do with phonemes:
•       Isolate phonemes, such as “What’s the first sound you hear in the word bear?”
•       Blend phonemes. For example, “I’m going to say the sounds in a word very slowly. See if you can listen to what I say and tell me what word it is: /m/-/ee/.” {me}
•       Separate phonemes. For example, “How many little sounds do you hear in the word bug?” {3}
Counting phonemes is a more advanced skill that typically comes AFTER kids have mastered rhyming and syllables. Many children will also be reading easy texts, like those found in Reading the Alphabet, before they have mastered counting and manipulating phonemes.

Phonological & Phonemic Awareness
Phonological Awareness is a broad term. It refers to the awareness of sounds in a word. A child with phonological awareness can identify and create rhyming words, count syllables in a word, or (on the smallest level) identify and manipulate individual sounds in a word.
Phonemic Awareness fits under the umbrella of phonological awareness. It is an awareness of the smallest units of sound (or phonemes) in a word. For example, a child with phonemic awareness could hear that the word bat has the sounds:  /b/  /a/  /t/. A child with keen phonemic awareness could change /h/ at the beginning of hat to /c/ and know that now, it’s the word cat.
Phonological and phonemic awareness activities are things your child can do with their eyes shut.  They only need their ear as they identify and manipulate sounds within words.

Enjoy,
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

November 17, 2017

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