Thursday, February 5, 2009

Early-Literacy Study

In the January 21 issue of Education Week an article reviewed a report that analyzed the results gained from early-literacy (ages 3-4) studies. One expert warned that the results of the panel's report may send the message that will cause "practitioners" (I assume he was referring to teachers) "to further narrow instruction and focus on the discrete skills." The skills that the report listed as the moderate to strong skills necessary to predict overall literacy development were:
  • Alphabetic Knowledge: knowledge of names and sounds associated with printed letters
  • Phonological Awareness: detecting, manipulating, or analyzing parts of words
  • Rapid Automatic Naming of Letters/Digits: naming a sequence of random letters or numbers
  • Rapid Automatic Naming of Objects/Colors: naming a sequence of random sets of pictures or objects
  • Writing or Writing Name: writing letters in isolation or one's own name
  • Phonological Memory: remembering spoken information for a short period of time
The article has a quote warning that the panel's report "places a very strong emphasis on the narrow range of skills related to decoding, phonemic awareness and other memory kinds of skills." The point being that other areas that need to be developed such as vocabulary, oral language and background knowledge may not immediately show their value in reading ability until third or fourth grade.

The article ends with another warning: "What we always have to keep in mind is that we are dealing with very young children, so the instruction needs to be playful and engaging." I have always thought instruction for any age should be engaging and if it can be presented as "playful" instead of "work" that is also a great advantage.

Mr. Wiemers

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