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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of April 29th

posted Apr 29, 2018, 10:58 AM by Courtney Richardson
Which comes first, the letter or the sound?

Research has proven that students who enter kindergarten not knowing their letters are at risk. However, we can change this projection if we take immediate action. I’ve spent the past 20 years collecting data on students who enter kindergarten knowing less than 40 letters. Two instructional procedures have quickly taught letter names, letter sounds, and many concepts of print: Tracing the ABC book and the integrated Pre-A lesson. Tracing an ABC book with a tutor is designed to teach letter names (upper and lower case). I recommend that students who do this intervention say the name of the letter twice (as the student traces the letter in the ABC book) instead of saying the letter name, letter sound, and picture (A-/a/-apple). Students with very limited letter knowledge are likely to become overwhelmed if asked to learn the letter name and letter sound at the same time (Lipson & Wixson, 2010, Successful Approaches to RTI ). However, as students learn letter names, they often learn letter sounds since the sound for the letter is often embedded in the name of the letter. Thus, if students know the name of the letter it will be easier for them to remember the sound of the letter (Lipson & Wixson, 2010, Successful Approaches to RTI, p. 42).
At the same time the student is tracing the alphabet book, I recommend a daily, 20-minute lesson that includes working with letters, working with sounds, reading a very easy book with the teacher, and doing interactive writing. These four activities integrate a variety of skills including phonemic awareness, phonics, visual memory, visual scanning, letter formation, directionality, using picture clues, early print concepts, and most important, they learn that reading makes sense. If we catch these readers early, we can close the achievement gap and prevent many of them from experiencing difficulty learning to read. 

Written by: Jan Richardson