How Do Children Learn Letters?

This post is a reflection of 4 articles we read this week. I know, right? 4 articles in one week AND a paper, but I’m learning so much in this class, and Dr. Stino is a freaking Reading Goddess!

What are some of the advantages of teaching poetry?

Young ones have an innate love for things that rhyme, and they can sing and shout upon command, poetry lets you expand on their word awareness and introduce them to new music and topics (snaps fingers).

  • Analyze how the teacher conducted the poetry genre study with the first-graders.

It was a period over 4 weeks, and she read a crap-load of all types of poems, read-a-louds, share chair, shared reading in large print, looked at line breaks, free verse, acrostic poems, I mean she ‘went in’ and topped it off with a poetry cafe.  It was a LOT of work, but I’m sure the kiddos loved it and learned lots.

  • Summarize what scholars perceived as important in early literacy research.

Accountability, compliance, too much talk about learning to read and reading to learn.  Basically the blame game. Who is to blame for them not learning to read, instead of actually doing what it takes to teach reading.  They are not teaching reading in classrooms, they are just reading and giving packets for homework.

  • According to the authors, what were the trends novel to that decade?

You begin to understand language in the 2nd/3rd grade.  Fluency matters; should be a hashtag. Code related indicators are evident in KG/1st grade.  Pre school is a literate place.

  • According to the authors, how should we move forward with early literacy teaching and research?

We need research on what needs to be done to actually run a classroom/teaching to be producers of digital information, not just consumers.  Working together, not just ‘thumbsing’ on the solo. We still have work to do.

  • What do the authors say about the emergence of letter knowledge?

There are 40 shapes to the english language, and yes, I do think about numbers all the time.  Most 4 year olds, know B, A, X, O, probably because they are symmetrical, but that’s just a guess.  Children learn capital letters before common ones. This week by week foolishness has children reviewing what they already know, we are losing them with the contrived scripts and inhibiting letter-learning.  My uncle used to have us draw rain and waves and dots and lots of squiggles when we were younger to get us ready for those shapes we would need to form letters. There is more letter retention when the teacher helps students through the different letter features, M for mountain and W for water.

  • They learn letters depending on the letters in their name. We can suggest names to expectant parents, such as "Maher-Shallal-Hash-Baz", one of Isaiah's sons from the bible, or “Jameshauwnnel”, which is an abbreviation of this little girl’s 1000 letter first name.

  • The position of the letter in the alphabet matters when teaching letters. So the ones in the middle get kinda muddy. I remember this kid from years ago that named one of the letters as ‘elemenah’ - exactly - 'LMNO', followed by P.

  • Letter learning depends on how often the letter shows up in words (yes, think Wheel of Fortune and Vanna White)

  • If the letter’s sound is in its name, like /b/ for B, it’s easier to learn

  • But mostly it’s the timing of the teaching of the letter sounds, and I'm thinking 2 years old isn’t the time :-)

According to the authors, discuss several ways in which we can teach young learners about letters.

Keep it simple

Make meaningful connections

Include movements or visual cues

Make an alphabet book for each student

Predict the book content as a class before reading

Reinforce letter knowledge during reading and writing

Brainstorm with students as they begin the writing process

Use guided movement, show them how you write the letter

Sort letters by their features (like jeans - curvy and close or straight and narrow)

Geez, this is why I prefer math.

  • The researchers examined the Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement over a period of school years. What were their findings?

Skewed scores and non interval text levels.  There were 6 tasks that measured Early Literacy Awareness.

  • Why are these findings relevant?

Because there still isn’t a proper dimensionality analysis on this survey.  A total score is valid and can be used to get a more precise means to screen students and evaluate their progress over time.

First Graders and Poetry

Early Literacy Achievement Survey

A Decade of Early Literacy Research

Teaching and Learning About Letters