Today, we’ll be continuing to discuss Common Core Kindergarten Standards in the area of Reading Foundational Skills. We’ll be covering how to assess students, create learning groups, and plan multi-sensory activities.
Here are the standards for Phonological Awareness.
Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
Recognize and produce rhyming words.
Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words.
Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words.
Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words.1 (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.)
Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.
Before starting instruction, we recommend that teachers assess each student's phonological awareness skills. Here is a link to a free phonological assessment that looks at each area of Common Core. Unlike some progress monitoring tools that track overall development, this assessment will give you a better picture of what skills need to be taught.
As a classroom teacher, it may feel overwhelming to assess every student in a large classroom. At Speech Language Literacy Lab, we recommend asking your school support staff to help. In particular, your school speech language pathologist is an excellent resource for assessing phonological awareness. As SLPs ourselves, we find that most speech pathologists love to collaborate with classroom teachers, especially when provided support and encouragement from school administration. SLP time is well spent helping teachers evaluate students in order to better differentiate instruction.
After collecting information on each student, we recommend meeting with your grade level team and specialist supports to create learning groups.
You may find that your students break into roughly four groups:
1. Rhyming and Segmenting with Syllables: These students have difficulty with all areas of the test. They need to begin learning about rhymes and practice segmenting words by syllable.
2. Initial Sound and Rhyme: This group of students has mastery of segmenting by syllables. However, when asked to say a word by sound, they will say the word LOOOONG, but often not with a discernable break of sounds. They may also have partial mastery of breaking the word into initial sound + rhyme. They need to continue working on breaking CVC words into sounds.
3. Segmenting Individual Sounds: These students can segment some or all of the CVC words into sounds. They will struggle breaking blend sounds (i.e. f-r-o-g) into individual sounds. They need continued work with individual sounds, including blends and longer words.
4. Manipulating Sounds: This group of students has mastered segmenting words by sound. Some in this group may already be reading. They will benefit from playing sound games that manipulate sounds.
In order to meet individual student needs, Tier 1 instruction can be provided as a combination of whole group and small group differentiated instruction during literacy block. If you are unfamiliar with how to structure a classroom in order to provide small group instruction, we recommend the book Daily Five.
If administration creates literacy blocks across the grade level, specialists can also support teachers by pulling students from across several classes that need extra support into one general education classroom. Again, the SLP should be contacted to support language building activities within this literacy block.
As we prepare our lessons, we want to keep in mind our learning hierarchies and modalities of input.
Here is Bloom’s Taxonomy adapted for rhyming skills:
As we begin instruction in phonological awareness, we want to first ensure that children know the vocabulary concepts. As adults, we sometimes forget that students may not know vocabulary words such as “sound, word, syllable, rhyme.” Explicitly teaching a shared vocabulary should always be step one.
We also want to keep in mind the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy with questions such as “How can students create something new with this knowledge?” For example, making up their own song and recording it on an iPad, or making a rhyming wall.
When planning instructional activities, we should also be mindful of all the ways that students can acquire new information.
While quieter activities, including worksheets, may be necessary at times, they are limited to visual input systems. For some students who struggle with learning phonological awareness skills, we should try to access as many learning modalities as possible by asking the questions: "How can we get kids to hear, see, feel, and move this?"
Instructional Ideas Beyond the Worksheet
Here are a few of our favorite multi-sensory ideas for targeting phonological awareness
Foundational Listening Skills with Rhythm Sticks
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition are the three key words to building phonological awareness. At SL3, we believe that every early childhood and kindergarten classroom should be filled with music daily. Using rhythm sticks is a particularly good way to build key vocabulary concepts and improve segmenting by word and syllable. Check out the weblink above for a tutorial on how to structure and manage a rhythm lesson.
Gross Motor Rhyming: London Bridge
Two students create the “bridge” (or several students create a few bridges) and the other students go through the bridge in a circle while singing “London Bridge is Falling Down.” On the last word, the bridge goes down, and the student (or students) inside must either identify if two words rhyme, create a rhyming word based on a word provided by a teacher, or create two words that rhyme on their own.
Whole Group Partner Work: Rhyming Snowballs
Prior to the lesson, the teacher tapes pictures of rhyming pairs onto crumpled balls of paper (snow). Then, the teacher tosses all the balls in the air and students must find their match within the class.
Gross Motor and Segmenting: Duck Duck Goose
This activity is played like the traditional “Duck, Duck, Goose.” However, when the “ducker” taps heads, he says the individual sounds (or syllables) of a word. When the ducker taps a head and says the whole word, this means “goose” and the chase around the circle begins. The great thing about this activity is that students of all levels can play together. The teacher can provide appropriately leveled words to each individual student as he or she takes a turn. The other students will intently listen (and correct) if the ducker makes a mistake segmenting.
Fine Motor and Segmenting: Marbles
For this activity, a teacher can give a word (or a picture of a word) and the student has to represent the number of sounds by placing marbles on a golf-T. This activity will strengthen fine motor skills while targeting early literacy skills.
Hopscotch Sound-Letter Manipulation
This gross motor activity is a fun way to improve sound manipulation skills. Either outside with chalk, or inside with construction paper, create several squares with one letter in each square. Make the squares all create one word. For example “C” in one box, “A” in another, and “T” in another. The last box should have the entire word written. Have the students jump in each box and say the sound that the letter makes. When they jump into the last box, students say the whole word. Then, have the students toss a penny in one of the squares. They can jump again, but skip the box that has the penny.
Assess-Prepare-Make it Feel Like Play:
First, use data to drive the skills instruction. Then, imagination is the limit to creating unique phonological awareness activities that get students moving, feeling, hearing, and seeing sounds and letters.
For our latest and greatest ideas, please follow us on Pinterest. We are constantly updating boards for each Common Core Area, and we would love if you share your ideas with us too!