As an upper elementary teacher, I have had very little experience in terms of word-level instruction. Very few students that I've taught have needed help in this area so I have not had much practice. We focus primarily on reading comprehension and content area. Because of this, I was a bit hesitant about this week's topic, but once I began the readings it did not seem as overwhelming. Come to find out, the focus of my case study actually falls under this realm of instruction! I especially appreciated the video by Peggy Semingson. She made understanding the differences between phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics easy to understand. Basically, phonological awareness deals with how we hear sounds, including rhyming, alliterations, and syllabication. A subset of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness which also deals with hearing, but focuses upon just the smallest units of sounds. Some of the strategies used, such as segmentation and isolation of sounds, are strategies that I have actually used with my ESL students when I taught in South Carolina. The final area discussed was phonics. Rather than being focused solely on sound like phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics instruction is meant to teach students about the textual representations of sounds.
After viewing the video, this week's readings were much more meaningful. In chapter 8 of the Morrow and Gambrell text, the controversy surrounding phonics instruction in reading is addressed. As an undergraduate student, I remember being told that phonics was the least important element in terms of learning to read. According to the text, and through professional development and experience teaching reading, I have learned this is not the case. Phonics is not the end all and be all of reading instruction, but it is an important element in a balanced reading approach. The section entitled of chapter 8, "Making Big Words", is particularly relevant to my students and is the exact topic upon which my case study will focus! I typically would not think to do a word sort with 4th graders, but the sample lesson presented would be enjoyable to my students and would also provide an appropriate level of word-level instruction. I appreciate the attention to root words and affixes, both of which I believe are vital in expanding student vocabularies.
The Samuels and Farstrup text put my own reading skills to the test in their description of how a reader's mind learns to decode and understand text. I honestly had put very little thought into what actually happens in the brain in order to successfully read, so all of this was new to me. One thing I took from the reading is to determine when and how to use research findings and materials. The example of the DIBELS nonsense words did a good job depicting how we as teachers can sometimes take a helpful tool and use it improperly. the second thing that I took away from the reading was the fact that teaching words in both isolation and in context are both vital to ensuring that students are able to decode words as well as understand the proper usage and meaning of the text.,
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!