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.

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.


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.


Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...