Learning alphabet fast

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by MissK2015, Sep 16, 2017.

  1. MissK2015

    MissK2015 Rookie

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    Any advice on teachjng alphabets FAST? Most of my Kindergarteners come to school not know any letters but are expected to write a lot by the end of the year. Any advice. I am drilling them every day on their letters and sounds and some still dont know any!
     
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  3. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    Does the school require you to teach them the alphabet fast? Also, do you have a grade level team who has a system for this that they can share?

    We use Fundations to introduce letters and letter sounds from September to December. It feels super slow, but for the kids who have zero skills coming into K it works extremely well (in my experience at least). By the end of the year they are able to write simple sentences. My advice would be not to rush the alphabet because once they've mastered letter sounds, the rest comes more quickly. Rushing through it could compromise their understanding. However, if the districts expects these skills immediately my advice isn't worth much.
     
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  4. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Are they expected to write phonetically by the end of the year? The alphabet skills will come with lots of authentic exposure, interactive writing and repetition. Anchor everything with their names and they will begin to make those connections quickly. Give them time to draw and write in their own personal journals and keep reading and writing materials handy around the room. Encourage writing in the dramatic play area - shopping lists, receipts, etc. and make sure the entire classroom environment is rich with print. It will come, but there is no guarantee it will come FAST.
     
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  5. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    It's a slow process for students lacking exposure. You seem to be going too fast with your expectations and your writing (title of other posting says fasr instead of faster).

    Have you been trained in teaching phonemic awareness? If not, do some reading. I liked the Threads of Reading by Tankersly. It was an easy read around 100pgs.

    Kindergarteners make big jumps even if it doesn't seem like they will.
     
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  6. MissK2015

    MissK2015 Rookie

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    Thanks everyone for your responses! I do realize this is a process but I just feel pressure since the expectations are so high!
     
  7. MissK2015

    MissK2015 Rookie

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    You may want to to type slower as well since this is the post with out the typo and yet you included that in your response.
     
  8. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I know, it says title of other posting. Check your quote of my quote. I do make my fair share of typos on my phone. I was merely making the connection to speed because you are trying to push kids who aren't ready.
     
  9. MissK2015

    MissK2015 Rookie

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    It's not that I am trying to push kids who aren't ready, there is pressure to do so. As I said before, I understand it is a learning process.
     
  10. Obadiah

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    Alphabets and phonemes are important but not simple concepts to learn, and concepts themselves are not learned solely through drill. In English dictionaries, very few words follow basic phonetic rules; elementary kids encounter exceptional words or words that follow different phonetic rules even in Kindergarten. But in young children's literature, more of the words do follow the rules. For this reason, phonics drills can be confusing to children, but also for another reason. For example, where I live, a teacher might drill "e, egg, /eh/" but the students all had /aygz/ for breakfast. Sometimes when teachers drill consonants, they add extra vowel sounds. So "b, bat, buh" and "t, top, tuh" spells the word /buh-at-tuh/. Although drills are important in developing automatic recall, prescribed drills often throw out too much information to recall at one time. Adults can usually remember 7-10 bits of non-contextualized information in one byte, at least within temporary memory, but Kindergarteners often do not. A typical phonics drill contains 26x3 bits of information. If the chart used in the drill contains pictures and letters, that does narrow down the bits somewhat as it places the bits into somewhat of a context, but it's still a lot at one time. Daily drilling might eventually succeed in recalling the entire chart by memory, but the student might not connect the drilled letters and sounds to previous learning.

    Current brain science suggests that the only way to learn is through connections with previous learning. As noted by Pinker, students are born with instinctual previous learning, but aside from that, all other previous learning is cataloged through experience. I find it interesting to note that children learn to speak a language and the basic grammar without any daily drills; only by experiencing communication. I agree with the above, the Kindergarten classroom should be a wonderland of communication experience for the students. As mentioned, an easy way to expose students to letters and words is to label objects in the classroom. Books should be a regular part of the students' daily exposure; they should be read to (big books are fabulous and also being read to without visual exposure to print is important), have free play looking through books alone or with a partner, have times of discussion, quote and sing nursery rhymes (contemporary music is fine, but the old standard melodies with strict mathematical formulation encourages brain structures useful in reading print--by math, I'm referring not just to rhythm but also the auditory effect from the spacing of notes on the staff), build with blocks or Legos (print formation and recognition is geometric and this builds geometric foundations in the brain), and time outdoors (where much large space geometric brain development and communication takes place--a different kind of communication than what occurs in the classroom). Even swinging on a swing set or tumbling upside down develops brain connections essential for reading. Personally, I believe that watching most DVD's in Kindergarten is a waste of time, with the exception of programs such as Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Not much learning seeps into the brain through videotized osmosis. I wrote about this in another post, but I recall even playing group games that involved communication when I was a Kindergarten student in 1963. London Bridge combines kinesthetic movement, geometric formations, music, and rhymes. And there were other such songs and word plays that we sang and recited as a group. Again, not diminishing drill (although I might reduce the size of it in the beginning), I'd recommend that the real language learning comes more from basic early childhood experiences.
     
  11. otterpop

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    I've never understood why "egg" is often the model word for short e. I have to make myself say /ehg/ because I pronounce it /ayg/ normally. Ed, elephant, enter, exit - all better example words.
     
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  12. otterpop

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    You can also continue teaching letter sounds as you teach beginning reading skills. For example:

    This word is spelled B - E - D. Read it slow: b-e-d. Now quickly - bed. What's the word? Bed!

    You are teaching kids to read simple words, but you're also naming the letters and pointing to each letter as you say it and make its sound, which will help students still learning letter names and sounds.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
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  13. TheGr8Catsby

    TheGr8Catsby Rookie

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    It must be regional. Egg is the best short e example where I am. Ed is also acceptable, but it kind of confuses my kids because Ed is such an uncommon name to them. Elephant and exit confuse the kids because the first two letters blend to sound like the names of other letters. Enter here is pronounced more like a short i.
     
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  14. Obadiah

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    I agree, it is a regional situation. Where I live, enter is also /in ter/, and I've encountered a few other situations in regions where I teach. Even nearby regions such as the next town over have dialectical differences. In one town, people pronounce borrow, /bar oe/, but right next door, in a town so small it takes 2 minutes to drive through, older folks say /bar ee/.

    After rereading my post, I offered so many suggestions that I became concerned I might have sounded critical or preachy. That was not my intent. I'm certain the OP is an excellent teacher! Otherwise, s/he would not be noticing the need for improvement nor writing on this forum asking for suggestions. Teaching is a continual learning process, and what I've learned about teaching has taken many years to learn, and I'm still learning.

    Current day standards and expectations of teachers may sound daunting, and I would recommend that the best method for attacking is to just keep plugging away. It's good to keep the goal post in mind, but in the football game, rarely does the quarterback score on the first down. (Quick note: Go Steelers)! Sorry, back to the point, little by little, day by day, the students will achieve toward the end goal as best as possible.
     
  15. otterpop

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    I think it's awful how quickly students are expected to learn things, especially in the lower grades. Like another poster said, kindergarten used to be where students learned the alphabet - all year long. To shorten that period to a week and then call anyone who can't keep up "struggling" is not fair to those children.
     
  16. Backroads

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    I'm following this. I have a 2nd grader who still doesn't
    Indeed. I think there is a tendency to label kids early as struggling learners simply because they aren't magically gifted in learning the alphabet super fast.
     
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  17. DAH

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    What are these parents doing with their babies for five years? This is another nationwide problem...parents teaching their children NOTHING, then dumping them on the school steps (in some cases not even potty trained), and expecting the teacher to do miracles! It makes me angry...it's child abuse@!

    Start by SINGING the alphabet song to them, until they get it. Then move on to visual identification. If you have the alphabet strung across the wall, using your pointer, go through the alphabet one letter at a time, pointing--you say it, they say it; then the sound that it makes. Go through the whole alphabet this way, every day, several times a day.
    Also incorporate practice writing one letter a day. You kind of teach it all as one package. This is 1960s stuff, but it works.

    That would be my main goal for the whole year since you're starting with a clean slate. And maybe the last quarter start them on writing, and let the First Grade teacher take it from there.
    Good luck
     
  18. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I agree, it's not asking much for a kindergartner to be familiar with the concept of the alphabet by the time they enter school.

    However, for decades plenty of parents have given their children reasonable exposure to the alphabet and books... and kindergarten was still used for mastering the alphabet.

    Why now do we insist on so much so early? Why now are we pushing kids not developmentally ready?
     
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  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    These regional differences in pronunciation can make learning to read so challenging. Where I'm from, we don't say "bag" like 99% of the rest of the country says it. It's more like "beg" or "beyg", but not quite. To me, "egg" does not have the same short-e sound as "exit" or "elephant". It's not quite a long-a sound, either. It's like its own special sound that only people where I'm from can correctly make. When I say "egg" aloud, my mouth makes a completely different shape on the "e" sound than it does on the "e" sound in "exit".
     
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  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This question torments me, like for real. I have a young child who will be in kindergarten soonish. I want the focus to be on learning through play and imagination, not on sitting at a desk all day, but it may not work out that way. It really, honestly, truly makes me so sad for kids these days who are missing out on all the great benefits of play.
     
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  21. TeacherGroupie

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    Frankly, I'd prefer that a child arrive at kindergarten apparently not knowing the alphabet than arrive believing that "elemenopee" is a letter.
     
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  22. AlwaysAttend

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    I'd settle for no giggles when I say the letter P.
     
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  23. DAH

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    LOL, Oh, Teacher, they will learn that elemenopee is five letters when you show them. LOL
     
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  24. Backroads

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    But elemonopee is 10 letters.

    :innocent:
     
  25. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    Lol, I can deal with kids coming in knowing not one letter, but the potty training is where I have to say "Not my job!" When I taught 4 year olds I could guarantee there would be at least three kids the first week who would announce their bowel movement to me in the expectation I was about to come wipe their rear end. Nope, the parents can deal with the skid marks. I also don't think it's too much to ask parents to teach them how to blow their noses.
     
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  26. DAH

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    When you work with kids that young, you almost have to expect that you will be doing things like that sometimes, they're still toddlers. That's one reason why I don't work with that age group anymore; I've done my time, let the younger women do it now (unless it's my granddaughter:) then I don't mind).
     
  27. Backroads

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    My SiL had an incident where a mom came to register
    My SiL had a story where a mother came in to register her twins for kindergarten... and asked at what point in the year they do the potty training. Secretary flat-out told Mom the kids were required to be potty trained before kindergarten registration.

    Apparently Mom had been told by multiple people kindergarten was responsible for potty training.
     
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  28. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    I'm not surprised, Back. Young mothers are so busy these days, they haven't time to raise their children.
     
  29. Backroads

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    Which amazes me. I have a toddler and a preschooler and I know plenty of stay-at-home moms who are doing a-okay with keeping their kids alive and reasonably on target to maturity. With today's technology assisting the intense housekeeping of yesteryear, there's no reason to not be doing A-Okay at keeping kids alive and reasonably on target to maturity. Heck, plenty of them have the time to do some side businesses. My fellow working moms are generally in contact with the childcare folk, swapping information and agreement on such childraising situations.

    So when I meet a mom completely unaware of basic childraising scenarios, it blows my mind. Really? You had no time to handle this situation?
     
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  30. TeacherNY

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    I was wondering the same thing. The parents sat them in front of the tv watching those ridiculous kid shows they have on now. I can't stand them. Not educational at all. At least when my mom plopped me down in front of the tv I watched Sesame Street and could read fluently by the 2nd week of Kindergarten. And the potty training thing is just nuts.
     
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  31. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Some people aren't meant to even have kids if their lives are so crazy. Sorry, but it's the truth. They can't take care of themselves so can't even begin to raise a child and expect schools to do it for them.
     
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  32. Obadiah

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    An excellent book that addresses the phenomenon of many modern parents not communicating with their children is

    Suskind, Dana. Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain. N.Y.: Dutton, 2015.

    I've noticed a baby in my church whose family not only communicates with him but exposes him to much music seems quite aware of his surroundings. He's less than a year old, but already he's trying to sing along with the congregation! I can hear him while I'm playing the piano.

    I had another idea concerning alphabet drills. Alongside of the drill, there are a multitude of excellent alphabet read-aloud books and also plenty of simple alphabet picture books for independent exploration. Back to the read-alouds, some of these would induce enlightening discussions; the topics or chosen words are quite thought provoking for youngsters. Off the top of my head, I can't recall any specific titles, but I seen many that I thought would be an excellent addition to an early childhood language arts program.
     
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  33. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Let's not forget about the fathers when it comes to raising children.
     
  34. AlwaysAttend

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  35. Rabbitt

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    Have you looked into Tucker Signs or something similar?
    Jolly phonics? I think that's what it was called.
     
  36. DAH

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    After reading so much of that story, and then stopping out of disgust, if I were to say what pops in my mind about this mother, I would have to get offline and repent.

    Once, okay, accident; she's a young mother, she didn't know any better. Twice...what happened? Wasn't the first time enough to stop you from ever permitting that from happening again? Third time ARREST HER, and remove all children from her care! It's criminal negligence.
     
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  37. Backroads

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    I couldn't comprehend why they couldn't just buy a baby bed. Or a laundry basket. Those are $5. What a culture.
     
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  38. AlwaysAttend

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    They actually give away baby boxes for free.
     
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  39. a2z

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    I slept in a dresser drawer on the floor when my relatives had to take care of me when my mother was ill.
     
  40. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The woman in the story lacked parenting skills. I don't think these things happened because of the cost of safe equipment so much as the lack of knowledge about basic safety. It said that she had been involved with CPS for a decade already, which suggests to me that there were ongoing, very long-term issues. There was also mention of filthy living conditions and other problems. It seems like a lot of people and agencies failed this woman. It's hard to know why she didn't do better, especially once CPS became involved initially, but I guess it's hard to know what you don't know or how to get help when you don't realize you aren't doing things the best and safest way. I think that she owns a fair amount of responsibility in what happened, but I also think that the safeguards in place to help prevent these sorts of things were not present in her case. This whole story makes me very sad for everyone involved.

    Moving into a more general sense, I don't assume that parents of my struggling students are bad or malicious or that they have intentionally withheld at-home learning from their kids. I assume that they lack parenting skills, that they don't understand how vitally important it is to play with and do things with their kids because it lays the foundation for future success, and/or that they don't have the money that they think they need to get and do what they should be doing (although of course we all know that there are so many great things parents can do with their kids that cost nothing or next to nothing). Some people are terrible people and terrible parents, of course, but I just don't believe that's the majority or even a large minority.

    And in any case, none of us can go back into the past and fix what did or did not happen at home or in previous grades. This post here is about alphabet skills in kindergarten, but I can certainly share stories about times students came to my high school classroom lacking basic comprehension skills or couldn't tell you what a noun is or had no social skills to speak of. It's frustrating to have to be the one who gets students to grade level, and I've wondered many times what the heck the teachers before me were doing for this kid to know so little, but it is what it is. It's still my job to teach, regardless of the student's level coming into my classroom, with the goal of getting them at least a little higher than where they were when they started.
     
  41. Backroads

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    Heck, I am now up to 8 2nd graders who can't do basic counting. Granted, half if of them are newbies to the school (meaning possibly rush them to the charter school before the prior school bugs you about problems, little knowing we also are watching and recommending kids), but it is kind of frustrating. What were you doing for two years?
     

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