by Kendall Doyle As a preschool teacher, I think of my job as two primary responsibilities: teaching children how to go to school, and preparing them for future learning. One of the biggest challenges preschool and pre-k teachers face is teaching students crucial literacy skills using developmentally appropriate strategies. This is where phonemic awareness comes in. Contrary to popular belief, phonemic awareness does not require any letter knowledge. This makes the tasks accessible to all students in preschool and pre-k classrooms, regardless of their trajectory of letter knowledge. The benefits of consistent, explicit phonological and phonemic instruction are enormous. Phonemic awareness [...]
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by Sharifa Yamba It was mid-winter 2021 in the middle of the pandemic. DC Public Schools announced that schools would return to in-person learning in February. There was a lot of apprehension around this decision. I, on the other hand, was relieved. This was my first-year teaching kindergarten and I felt like a new teacher. I spent my mornings and afternoons sitting behind a computer telling my students to come back to their seats, turn on their camera, and to mute themselves. Like many teachers across the country, the experience was stressful and disheartening. The children were falling behind. I did [...]
“Make sure students are spending time engaged in small group learning.” “Differentiate instruction so all students are supported to meet grade level standards.” When I started teaching, these were the loudest messages I heard in my training program and professional development sessions. These two practices, I learned, would be the key to ensuring that my first graders made significant progress, and ended the year meeting reading benchmarks. I was coached to use the guided reading model to ensure my students were reading leveled texts at their instructional level. So, I would plan guided reading lessons that included a thorough book introduction, [...]
by David North Past I was first introduced to the Heggerty curriculum last year – coincidentally, I began working with it through the DC Reading Clinic while simultaneously my instructional coach presented it to us during LEAP. Right away the impact was clear. Even during virtual instruction which, I think we all can agree, was less than ideal, students responded (and even kept their cameras on!) when it was Heggerty time. Here was an activity that everyone could do together! Well, not physically together, but…you know. The Heggerty activities simply made sense to them and to me – words are [...]
Bridging Magic and Rocket Science with Explicit Phonemic Awareness Instruction by Celestina Lee As a 1st grade teacher, I’ve always thought the process of learning to read was magical. I’ve witnessed the incomparable joy of children going from reading highly repetitive texts in September to devouring chapter books in June. I’ve experienced those special moments when things just “click” as a student perseveres in decoding a word in a silly book and then lets out a belly laugh. But I’ve also seen some of the hardest working readers struggle through every CVC word in a text right up to the [...]
The Community of Practice and Member Networking Committee hosts this Teacher Spotlight blog! The purpose of the blog aligns with the purpose of the committee: (1) advancing reading science by creating connections, knowledge, and consensus between formerly siloed communities of practitioners, and (2) using that new knowledge to ensure equitable outcomes for all students. We hope to feature YOUR teacher voice on the blog. Interested in submitting? Click here and email us! This Fall, we are featuring teachers who have seen the power of Phonemic Awareness and Phonemic Proficiency work in their classrooms. All teachers are DC-area practitioners, [...]