As the year goes on, I am becoming more aware of the importance of Phonological Awareness and Concepts of Print to the Prep child. Phonemic awareness was my focus for term one and as I look at my reading data - I'm glad it was! There are still children having difficulties with these skills so I decided to research the topic. I found a wealth of information and thought I'd share the most relevant to Prep here.
What is Phonological Awareness? What is Phonemic Awareness?
Phonological awareness is an awareness of the ways in which
words and syllables can be divided into smaller units. There are three levels
of phonological awareness: syllable awareness, intra-syllable awareness, and
Syllable awareness consists of the segmenting of syllables
in words and the blending of syllables together to form words.
Intra-syllables are the units we often refer to as onset and
rime. This level includes the blending of sounds to form words, segmenting the
sounds in words and adding, deleting, or changing the sounds in words or in a sound
Phonemic awareness is the awareness that words are composed
of phonemes or sounds and that those sounds have distinct features. Phonemic
awareness consists of four major skills which involve hearing, focusing on, and
manipulating the phonemes in spoken syllables and words. Phonemic awareness may
sometimes be confused with the teaching of phonics. Phonics refers to teaching
the letter-sound relationships. Children can be taught to manipulate sounds in
speech without any phonics or letter knowledge and therefore phonemic awareness
instruction is not phonics instruction.
These terms can be illustrated in the word: fishing
. The syllables are fish
. The intra-syllables are f
(onset) and -ishing
(rime). The phonemes
Note that phonemes
are different from letters
and the spelling of the word. Phonemes represent sounds and although a letter
(or grapheme) represents a sound, there is not always a one-to-one
correspondence. In the word fishing
are 7 letters but only 5 phonemes.
How does Phonological Awareness develop? Is there a suggested order to teach the skills?
Phonological awareness skills develop along a flexible continuum.
Children rely on their auditory skills for the development of the phonological
awareness skills of syllable segmentation, blending, and rhyme. Then they rely
on their speaking articulation skills for the next stages of phonological
awareness where they demonstrate sound blending and sound segmentation. In the final
stage of phonological awareness, children are relying on their orthographic
knowledge for the higher level skills of sound manipulation and cluster
Researchers conclude that there is a relationship between phonological
awareness skills and literacy development. Phonological awareness is necessary
for decoding text but the critical aspect of phonological awareness is that the
child becomes aware words are made up of sounds. Graphemes or alphabet letters
and the teaching of phonics makes no sense to a child who does not understand that
words are made up of sounds. Once phonological awareness is established however,
children begin to understand the relationship between speech sounds and print.
Key findings from the report of the National Reading Panel,
“Teaching Children to Read” (NICHD, 2000) state that phonemic awareness can be
taught and can be learned. Phonemic awareness instruction helps children learn
to decode, read and spell. Phonemic awareness instruction is most effective when
it focuses on only one or two types of phonemic manipulation at a time. Segmenting
and blending are the most critical phonemic awareness skills. Phonemic
awareness instruction is most effective when children are eventually taught to
manipulate phonemes by using alphabet letters.
The report also supports the teaching of phonological
awareness in the Prep classroom. Children need to be engaged in systematic,
developmentally appropriate activities that are aimed at facilitating shallow
levels of phonological awareness like rhyme and alliteration. By the end of the
Prep year, activities that are aimed at deeper levels of awareness like segmenting
and blending are appropriate. Therefore, those children who are not demonstrating
phonological awareness by the middle of the year can be identified and targeted
for explicit intervention.
for phonological awareness achievement:
I designed these Initial Sound Picture Sorts
to help build
phonemic awareness with my Prep children. These fun, hands-on sorting activities
help children develop an awareness of sounds that is essential to reading
success. They help develop students’ understanding of alphabet letter sounds along
with the beginning phonemes in words. Picture sorts ensure your students
develop their phonemic awareness skills and lays the foundation for any Early
The PDF file contains 31 pages. It includes up to 12 quality
sorting pictures for each letter of the alphabet, matching alphabet letter
labels, clear and detailed instructions for using the cards and learning
activities in your classroom. I have been using these for some time now. I love
them, my children love them and I don't know how I did without them.
Something valuable from the research that spoke to me is the fact that Teachers need to teach not test.
Often our teaching looks
more like testing where we ask a child a question rather than modelling, giving
feedback and scaffolding. Teaching is helping a child do something that he or
she was not able to do before. I was happy to find that the most effective instruction of Phonological Awareness involved The Gradual Release Model.
The Gradual Release Model
Note. I do =
teacher demonstrates skill; We do = students repeat with teacher; You do =
student completes example independently
Steps for teaching phonological awareness
Labels: Daily 5, literacy, phonics, phonological awareness, professional development, reading, writing