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In today’s episode, Benita shares multiple strategies for the last 3 steps of the Comprehensive Emergent Literacy framework.
Comprehensive Emergent Literacy Framework
Alphabet and Phonological Awareness
Activities for Steps 3+4 of the Framework
Alphabet and phonological awareness
Time: Erickson and Koppenhaver recommend doing this for about 20 to 30 minutes a day, explicit alphabet and phonological awareness instruction.
Phonological Awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate sounds and spoken language.
Activities: Letter-of-the-day approach
Overview: Reteach every 26 days using the following routine. Identify the letter, identify the sound of the letter, find the letter in text and write the letter.
Those four components are really important for teaching a letter.
Alphabet Knowledge includes the ability to distinguish letters, shapes, name them, write them and identify the sounds they represent.
Activities: Clap out syllables, listen to nursery rhymes, raps, poetry, and playing alliteration games.
Strategy: Provide access to a variety of writing materials, such as crayons, pencils, dry erase markers, alphabet letters, computers, AAC devices.
Time: 20-30 minutes a day
Overview: Then make sure to ask the student to read aloud what they have written and write it down for them and publish the material but putting it up on a board or in the classroom.
Strategy: Build a library of reading materials. Providing access to magazines, newspapers, song lyrics, reading apps, comic books, audible, all of those different ways that they can access reading, because believe it or not, audible reading, like read alouds, is reading. There’s tons of research to support that. I just heard it recently and it reaffirmed that.
Time: 10-15 minutes a day
Overview: Have the students share what they read about at the end of the self-directed reading.
Links Mentioned in the Podcast
– Story Grammar Marker
– Braidy Doll
– Tarheel Reader
– Epic Books
– Novel Effect
– Literacy Through Unity
– Tell Me curriculum
– UNC Center for Literacy
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Marisha Mets: Hello there and welcome to the SLP Now Podcast, where we share practical therapy tips and ideas for busy speech language pathologists. Grab your favorite beverage and sit back as we dive into this week's episode. This month we are talking all things EAC and literacy with Venita Litvack. So head to Episode 102 to get the getting started phase. And if you've already been listening to the episodes, just join us to continue learning more about AAC, literacy and comprehensive emergent matters.
Venita Litvack: The third area is alphabet and phonological awareness. We're going to be talking about different activities to use for that area. But I think when we talk about the terms phonological and alphabet knowledge, it brings back nightmares from grad school. I'll just provide some brief definitions for both of those, because if you're anything like me, it was definitely crossed over the two definitions. Phonological awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate sounds and spoken language. Then alphabet knowledge includes the ability to distinguish letters, shapes, name them, write them and identify the sounds they represent. Now that we've talked about both of those, let's get into the activities that we can address for both.
Venita Litvack: Interestingly, what I read in that book that I referenced in the beginning is that Treiman, Levin and Kessler in 2007 found that teaching a letter of the week or month is not the appropriate amount of time to learn each letter. I thought that was so fascinating and super applicable to even a core word-of-the-week approach, which that's a whole nother topic. But they found that this is the case, because if they're doing a letter of the week, it's going to take 26 weeks for that letter to be revisited again, unless it's being embedded in daily routines. But really to be specifically targeted, it's going to be another 26 weeks before it's reintroduced. It's almost the entire school year. It just is not enough time for students to embed that letter, use it in functional ways.
Venita Litvack: Instead, what they recommend is that you use a letter-of-the-day approach so that letters are retaught every 26 days using the following routine. They want you to identify the letter, identify the sound of the letter, find the letter in text and write the letter. Those four components are really important for teaching a letter. Any questions about that? Because I know that was a lot of information.
Marisha Mets: No, I think that makes sense. I really appreciated just defining what we're talking about with phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge. I think that's a really great tip of focusing on using the letter-of-the-day approach versus the week or the month. I love the four strategies that you shared too, because I feel this is so incredibly actionable. I'm curious to hear if you have any other tips for this area.
Venita Litvack: Okay, perfect. We'll move on to ideas for phonological awareness instruction. These are fun. I'm sure that a lot of these you've heard of. You can go on Pinterest for some ideas on addressing phonological awareness. But things like clapping out syllables, listening to nursery rhymes, even [RAPs 00:03:33] for your older students, poetry and playing alliteration games. Like I said, Pinterest has so many different activities that you can do to address those areas. Then in terms of alphabet instruction, same thing. You can use alphabet books, alphabet puzzles, games, student names, environmental print. There's so many different ways that you can address that just by looking at ideas on Pinterest. If I didn't say this already, Erickson and Koppenhaver recommend doing this for about 20 to 30 minutes a day, explicit alphabet and phonological awareness instruction.
Marisha Mets: Perfect. I think that's a really great overview and starting point. Each of these areas could potentially be a whole podcast. I think we'll leave it at this. And maybe we can revisit if we have time at the end, just to break it down a little bit more. But I think this is a really awesome place to start. So what's the next step?
Venita Litvack: The next two areas, they're much shorter. They're not as dense. We'll go through those pretty quick. The last two areas are independent writing and self-directed reading. Some ideas for promoting independent writing 20 to 30 minutes a day is to provide access to a variety of writing materials, such as crayons, pencils, dry erase markers, alphabet letters, computers, AAC device. The idea here is to provide access to a ton of different writing materials, not just a pen and paper or pencil and paper. Then make sure to ask the student to read aloud what they have written and write it down for them.
Venita Litvack: A training that I just attended, it was so fascinating, because she had us go through different writing examples. We know that emergent writing is not letter based. It's forming circles, forming lines, doing little drawings that communicate a message. She had us look at these drawings. Then she told her what the child explained the story behind the picture was. Then she would ask us, is the student and emergent writer or a conventional writer? I just thought that was so fun. If your students are not writing conventionally, like with letters, you can definitely have them tell you the story behind their drawing or their writing and summarize it for them on another page by writing it down so they can see what that looks like.
Venita Litvack: Then one really special thing is when your parents would put up your writing on your refrigerator or a board, it's really special for kids to be motivated to keep writing more by publishing their writing that way. If you can put it up in your speech room or in the classroom, maybe have a writing corner or a board, that would be really helpful as well.
Marisha Mets: No, that's perfect. Those are such great ideas. I'm curious too, because you could potentially use some of the RAP strategies that you talked about here, too. With some of these students, if we ask them and they don't respond within a couple of seconds, we probably want to wait a little bit longer. Do you have any additional strategies when it comes to talking to students or asking students about what they wrote?
Venita Litvack: That's a really, really good question. I would assume that they dive into that in the book that I presented in the beginning. I would recommend looking at that. On the top of my head, I don't have a framework for writing, like I do with the shared reading. But it's a really good thought, because if it hasn't been developed, then that might be a nice thing for somebody to look into.
Marisha Mets: If they don't have well researched answers for us, I think we can definitely pull from some of the other strategies you've shared to make that happen. I love that. I'm loving these tips so far. What about self-directed reading?
Venita Litvack: Self-directed reading, that was the last area of comprehensive emergent literacy instruction. Some ideas that are recommended to promote independent reading include building a library of reading materials. It's important to note that this should be done about 10 to 15 minutes a day. Depending on the time that you see this child or the time that you see the group, that might not be feasible for your group, if you're only seeing them for 30 minutes, but again, working with the teacher to provide that additional time for self-directed reading. Providing access to magazines, newspapers, song lyrics, reading apps, comic books, audible, all of those different ways that they can access reading, because believe it or not, audible reading, like read alouds, is reading. There's tons of research to support that. I just heard it recently and it reaffirmed that.
Venita Litvack: It's definitely questionable, but it is still considered reading. It's important for people to keep that in mind and provide access to that for students. Then you want to provide a variety of materials so that all the students have access to something they want to read. Not necessarily materials, but maybe genres. Some students might like to read comics. Some students might like to read fantasy, fiction, sports. So it's important to provide a variety of reading materials to them. Then at the end of the self-directed reading, this is really important, have students share out what they read about.
Marisha Mets: That is perfect. You just shared a ton of different strategies, lots of different resources and things that we can use. But there's a lot, definitely way more than can fit in one session. So how do you go about planning your group lessons to incorporate these strategies and just tips for making this happen in general?
Venita Litvack: Okay. That's such a good question. I think it's so important, because looking at the research is one thing. But putting it into practice is a totally different thing. You explained what my role is now. I'll just be very transparent here, I am an assistant technology specialist. Now, I support teachers and SLPs in the middle school. But I did work in a charter school for children with autism when I first got started. I'll explain what that looked when I was doing AAC and literacy in group lessons, when I was doing collaborative lessons with the teacher. It's going to look a little bit different than what I described and I think you do what you can until you know better. I'll explain what I did. Then maybe some things I might change knowing what I know now.
Venita Litvack: One of the things that I did in terms of shared reading is that I would pick a book for theme of the week, which I know you're really passionate about. And that's great. I'd pick a book or theme of the week. If it could go along with the academic lesson, all the better. I would talk with the teachers about what they were working on and try to pick a book that went along with that. Then I would identify core and fringe vocabulary that can be modeled while reading, which is important when you're doing that RAP strategy. And then I provide access to AAC. Students could use their personal AAC systems or BIGmacks. And on the BIGmack, I might put a repetitive phrase that I want the student to say.
Venita Litvack: If we're reading a book like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? I might have that whole phrase or I might have, what do you see on the BIGmack. And the students that don't have a ACC system, they can take turns pushing the buttons so they feel they're helping me read. I don't know, Marisha, are you familiar with Story Grammar Marker? I feel you would be.
Marisha Mets: Yes.
Venita Litvack: Okay. I love Story Grammar Marker. I would use the Braidy doll to discuss story elements after the reading. We would talk about the character, the setting and the story sequence using the Story Grammar Marker doll. Then in order to address shared writing, I would pick a phrase that relates to the book, such as, say we're reading Brown Bear again, maybe I see a... Then the students could do that predictable chart writing with them filling out what they see. Each student would say, "I see a teacher, I see a chair," whatever they see at the moment that they want to say for their little phrase.
Venita Litvack: I like to reiterate this. Depending on how often you go into the classroom, you can do each step of the predictable chart writing or some steps and help the teacher, or even assign homework to the parent. And then in order to address alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness, every day I would sing a letter song with my groups. You can find these on Pinterest or TPT. Mine were cards. For each letter, it had a sound that went with the letter and we would sing it out as a group. This was really for my younger elementary school aged kiddos.
Venita Litvack: Then in order to also address the phonological and alphabet knowledge, we would incorporate the academic words. The programs that the teachers that I worked with `provided words of the month. These tended to be a lot of sight words. There's a lot of crossover between sight words and core words. We put it up on a word wall or they might already have it up on a word wall. We would try to read the words, clap them out, spell them out. There's other research out there, other strategies that are pretty well known, at least in the education field, on how to target those words as a group and do phonological awareness instruction with those words.
Marisha Mets: I love the practical examples here, and just what this could look in practice. Then I have just a quick experience to share, too. I worked in an autism preschool. This was my first job that I had. I didn't know all of this research yet. I totally resonate with what you said about you do what you can until you know better, because there's definitely no way to know it all when we first start out. But I was able to use a lot of these strategies when I went into the classroom. For me, circle time was a really good time to make that happen, because the teacher was already using, like we did songs that we could work on. We had an alphabet song. We would show the letters. We had a lot of that alphabet-phonological awareness aspects built into that routine. Then I would always bring in a book and do some different activities around that.
Marisha Mets: At this level, a lot of the students were just using a single switch, that and the BIGmack or whatnot. We included some of those different activities. We identified the core vocabulary that we wanted to target during that. If I were going back, I think I would have done the RAP strategy. And I don't know, did they say in the book, which ages you would start this with? Would you do the sentence activity with preschool, too?
Venita Litvack: They did say that you can start pretty young. I haven't gotten to a point where they said there's a specific age limit. They give ideas for targeting these areas with different age groups. But they didn't say that a child is too young. But I haven't completely finished it so I don't want to say that they do or they don't.
Marisha Mets: That's amazing, because I was in a typical preschool too, where they definitely did activities. In the autism preschool, they also did activities with their names and letters and all of that. But I know in the general preschool, they cut up sentences and things like that. I've seen it in practice. I've seen little kiddos do it. I am definitely going to check out this book, because it sounds an amazing resource for this population. I'm so grateful you shared that. But I think it's just really helpful, because I think a lot of us, as we're listening to this, we're able to identify strategies that we've used in our practice. And this is just a way to celebrate what we're doing and reinforce those activities that we are using. Then maybe think of some things to add to our own session or to work with the teachers on, like, "Hey, I heard that this was really great."
Marisha Mets: The reason that I wanted to share my preschool experience was I would go in on Monday with the book and I would model all of that. Then the teacher and the para educators would be in the classroom with me, too. It's the best thing, when you walk into a classroom and they're using those strategies that you modeled the day or earlier in the week. So I definitely led it a couple of times, but it was just really cool to see them reinforcing that throughout the day, too. We definitely get to use a team approach to make this happen. It's not all us.
Venita Litvack: I love that. I, like you, I've done both sides. Recently I had to help cover for SLP services. I got to work with the gen ed population in the schools. I could see why that collaborative teaching wouldn't work because their goals are very different. Maybe we're working on sound specific goals. But even in your group settings, you can definitely address those areas of literacy at the same time that you're targeting those other goals.
Marisha Mets: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So amazing. Thanks for listening to the SLP Now Podcast. This podcast is part of a course offered for continuing education through SpeechTherapyPD. So yes, you can earn [Ashesi CEs 00:17:18] for listening to this podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your SLP friends. And don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episodes sent directly to. See you next time.
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