Letter-sound correspondence/phonemic awareness

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by peachacid, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Mar 1, 2011

    Hi...!

    I work with a student whose letter-sound correspondence is extremely poor. I work with him almost every morning for about half an hour, and he is making progress in that he recognizes more whole words, he doesn't get as frustrated as he used to, and he approached the whole learning process with a much better attitude.

    However...he still seems to have absolutely no phonemic awareness or letter-sound correspondence.

    What tricks do people use? :help:

    This student is repeating first grade, he is eight (Nov. birthday). When we do his sight words, there are some words that he just never gets correct. For example, the word there. He also has the words now and your. Once he's gotten now and/or your correct, he will then guess that word for all of the other words...regardless of the word on the card. I repeatedly tell him to look at the first letter, to get his mouth ready, etc etc...but it doesn't seem to be working. :(
     
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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Hey there - congrats on the success so far, especially on the motivational end - that's huge! What sounds are you working on, and are you doing any specific phonemic awareness building activities? What interventions/activities are you using for phonics? Also, are you working 1:1 for those 30 minutes, or in a small group? Finally, how is your time split during those 30 minutes - how much time on sight words, phonics, phonemic awareness, etc?

    Sorry for all the questions!
     
  4. nklauste

    nklauste Comrade

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    Mar 1, 2011

    I have a fifth grader that is very much like your first grader. Right now I am using a series called Signs for Sounds with him and he loves doing it, we haven't been doing it long enough to see the effect yet, but I am hoping it will help him. The way it works is you give the student a sound and they have between 1 and 3 letters/blends to choose from and they need to identify the letter/blend for the sound and circle it. Once they circle all of the letters/blends for the word they write it and tell you the word. We are hoping that this will help his reading.

    The program is available through the Read Naturally website.
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Mar 1, 2011

    Sounds dyslexic to me! Get him evaluated ASAP. Your state probably doesn't recognize dyslexia but specific learning disability is the typical school equivalent. Also, the speech teacher can help with sound symbol correspondence.

    Can he hear sounds in words? Can he identify the sounds in dog? Can you say the sounds in pig seperately and have him say the word? If he can do these can you orally tell him to say 'dog' with out the 'd' and have him say 'og'? Doing exercises like this with him can help work on the idea of sounds in words. With out that trying to get him to match letters and sounds can be difficult.

    Another program that is fabulous is Lindamood-Bell's LIPS program. However, few in schools ever get this program. It helps student identify the letter and utilize placement of the lips and tongue to make the sounds. They learn the connection by feel, sight, and sound this way. It takes a while with a trained teacher, but it is doable. However, that is the first step.

    Please evaluate this child.
     
  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 1, 2011

    Probably a bit early to be calling for an evaluation - he's definitely behind given a repeating 8-year-old first grader, but there are a few things to check and try first. Also, depending on the model of supplement support/special education, there may have to be certain interventions tried before moving beyond this step anyway.

    Peachacid - I posted a few questions above if you get the chance - thanks!
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Mar 1, 2011

    Intensive intervention at the first sign of a problem is the best thing for a child. This child is getting extra 30 minutes each day in additional to regular reading lessons. If he isn't making significant progress with that much help, there is an underlying issue. Putting it off for another year since this child has already been retained is not pre-mature. Had this child not been retained already, then I wouldn't be pushing for evaluation. However, based on age he is behind - really behind.

    This is the 3rd time around for letter/sound correspondence, first time K, second time 1st, and third time 1st again with help from Aug/Sept til March. This isn't just developmental at this point.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 1, 2011

    I'm not saying that you are wrong necessarily, and that more intensive resources aren't required, but neither of us has seen data on what those interventions looked like, more specifics about the child's actual skill deficits, etc., so I don't think it's appropriate given the information presented by peachacid to make the automatic assumption that a full evaluation is warranted.

    A big reason is this: what "interventions" and supports look like can vary widely by state, district, school, and even classroom. In a school/district with a strong RtI component in which evidence-based core instruction and individualized support is required along with documentation, as well as documentation of intervention integrity, it may be easier to take for granted that 30 minutes of documented Tier I intervention meeting district requirements and standards for evidence-based practice constitutes "doing everything possible" in a gen ed setting. However, even then, an evaluation wouldn't be warranted, but more intensive, strategic Tier II interventions designed/selected by a problem-solving team. An evaluation wouldn't come unless the child wasn't able to be helped given those two levels of resources. Peachacid hasn't mentioned any of those procedures or systems being used.

    In short, under a well-implemented RtI model, assuming Tier II interventions haven't been implemented, searching for more intervention ideas before pushing for an eval would be appropriate. In a non-RtI model, it would still be appropriate to try intervention before pushing for an evaluation. Because we don't know the extend of the interventions tried so far, it would be better to seek more information, and learn more about the full picture of the child's performance - especially in the educational context of peachacid's school, before pushing for an evaluation.

    That all being said, I'm totally in agreement with you on the level of not waiting forever before seeking additional services. We just haven't been given enough information yet to warrant recommending to peachacid that she should call for an eval tomorrow morning.

    Either way, I think the original point of the post was to ask about intervention ideas. Peachacid - I'm sure it's now on your radar to consider raising the possibility of an eval with your school, and that is ultimately something you and your school with decide. I'd be happy to help brainstorm some possible interventions in the phonics/phonemic awareness areas if you're interested - just let us know a bit more about the issues (see questions in my original post), and sorry peachacid for the detour, though I've enjoyed the discussion :).
     
  9. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Mar 2, 2011

    "Hey there - congrats on the success so far, especially on the motivational end - that's huge! What sounds are you working on, and are you doing any specific phonemic awareness building activities? What interventions/activities are you using for phonics? Also, are you working 1:1 for those 30 minutes, or in a small group? Finally, how is your time split during those 30 minutes - how much time on sight words, phonics, phonemic awareness, etc?"

    The student receives 45 minutes of Reading Mastery every morning, and then he comes to me, where we focus more on reading whole words. I do not use a specific phonics program with him, which I think I should. I am looking for activities to start using with him to build his phonemic awareness, as I am very concerned that he is not getting this at all other places. He can rhyme, at least most of the time.

    We work 1:1, as he gets extremely distracted by other students and upset that he is stupid. He goes through his sight words, then we use letter cards to write the words he had trouble with. He always gives a sentence for each word. We also sometimes read a book together.
     
  10. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Mar 2, 2011

    Oh, and I am very hesitant to have him evaluated, as he would be placed in special education and lose the 1:1 support from me. He would never lose that label, given the way our school works.
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 2, 2011

    There's definitely a lot to think about when it comes to the whole evaluation/special education question - you're in a very similar situation to many teachers out there working with struggling students. I'm guessing your district doesn't use any form of RtI process for special education? In some of the better RtI systems, there are resources available for kids before they ever get labeled.

    Like I said in previous posts, without more information it would be inappropriate for us on the forum to say "do" or "don't" definitively in terms of evaluation, but there are things to consider on either side of the equation:

    - At some point, if he's extremely behind, someone will likely pursue evaluation - it can often be better to start early with intervention, like a2z said above.
    - Labels are bad, but not being able to read is worse - if he's not getting the help he needs in general education, it may be worth considering more intensive support.
    - Not sure how long you'll continue working with him, but even if your school started the eval process today, he would likely not start receiving services until late this school year, or early next. Even if you continue working with him past this year, at some point you won't be with him anymore. If he needs more help than the general classroom can provide, it may be better to do that early before he gets lost in middle school, where he'll likely have no one like you to go see.

    Overall - in terms of the evaluation question - I'd keep folks at your school informed - child-study/a-team/student assistance team (whatever you call it), the chair of that, counselor, principal or AP, family, SPED coordinator, etc. It really should be a team decision to pursue evaluation, so that burden of making the decision to evaluate shouldn't be all thrown on you! Be open-minded to benefits it might have, but your caution is valuable too. In the meantime, do what you can in your classroom to help, which is what it sounds like you are trying to do.

    Sooooo, back to your initial post :). Yes, I would significantly reduce the time you spend on sight words, and move into helping him with phonics and phonemic awareness. Some kids need that explicit instruction to get that, and working on sight words won't give him what he needs in that department. Reading Mastery is actually fair heavy into phonics and phonemic awareness, but there could be a number of reasons why he's not picking it up from that. First, at the end of first grade, if he can't decode any single letters, he's way behind and not benefiting from anything going on in class - the class is working at level 60 (just making that up), and he's at step 1. It would be like me or you showing up to an NBA practice - we're not going to get much from it, because we're at such a lower skill level that we need more basic instruction.

    So, your job probably needs to be to go back to that level he's on, and start from there. Two things need to happen - first, you need to find out what level he's on with phonics and phonemic awareness, and second, you need to find activities to do on that level to take him to the next level.

    Back to a few questions:

    - What do you have going on in both of these areas - do you already do certain reading/phonics assessments like DIBELS, CBM (like AIMSweb), or even running records?

    - Are there any available reading intervention curricula at your school - maybe that a special education teacher has, or in the book closet? Does your school have a readinga-z.com account? Does anyone have a copy of Words Their Way?

    The reason I'm asking is that it would be silly of us to recommend new assessment/intervention techniques if you already are using some, or have access to some free ones. It may be helpful tomorrow or whenever you get a chance to ask around your school and see what you can come up with. Even if you have nothing, though, there are some good programs/ideas out there - some free, some close to it, some quite a lot :).

    Anyway, hopefully we're getting a step closer to actually being helpful, but sometimes doing a little more Q&A up front leads to better advice/suggestions a bit later!
     
  12. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Mar 2, 2011

    We have DIBELS, though we didn't use it this year. I have a running records kit that I pull material from occasionally (their supplemental material, not the books for RR). His running record level was assessed by his teacher as B, though I (his reading specialist) think he can go higher if he tries. He gets extremely frustrated very easily, though that has changed a lot since the beginning of the year.

    As a reading specialist, I usually do sight words, reading on-level books, make up sentences, put word cards in order, and lots of comprehension questions. With my other students, this is working, especially in addition to their Reading Mastery/Corrective Reading classes. With this student, however, it is not.

    I have a copy of Phonics They Use, which might be similar to Words Their Way...

    I feel so ineffective and stupid. I mean, this is supposed to be what I'm the "expert" in (according to my principal, anyway), yet... :unsure:
     
  13. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 2, 2011

    Don't feel that way at all - you are dong exactly what an expert should do, which is finding more resources where you need them. Every expert out there still needs to do research and seek out more information about how to do the best job they can do - no one knows everything. There are thousands of teachers out there in your situation, but instead of reaching out for support, many don't.

    Alright, to start, I'm thinking it would be helpful for you to download the free DIBELS assessment materials:

    http://www.dibels.org/next.html (note that these are new from last year - they have recently been released)

    Familiarize yourself with them (there is an instruction manual), and then administer the measures to him. From that info, you'll be able to tell where he's at specifically with his phonics, phonemic awareness, and reading fluency. You'll then be able to give DIBELS again every few weeks and see if you've made any progress. (Note - he may very well be making progress, but it may not appear that way to others because he has a lot of catching up to do on the basics).

    The big thing to look for to start your phonics is what letters he knows, and which ones he doesn't. Look at the mistakes he makes on the Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF) assessment in DIBELS, and see which if any he gets right. You can also type out a list of letters and ask him to tell you what sound they make.

    If you've got access to the Reading Mastery series (just go grab a text book!), I'd go ahead and use that - the lessons he's doing in class will be well past where you'll need to start, so you're not just doing the same thing as the gen ed teacher. Their lessons are in a pretty good order - they'll start with single consonants, and move forward to different kinds of letter combinations, etc.

    Those SRA programs can be pretty boring and rote, so you may need to mix it up and create fun activities that give him the opportunity to practice those skills. Big thing is this - go one letter or combination at a time. For example, if you're the sound /d/, make sure he masters that before moving on. Also, stay in the order they use in the book - they selected that order so things wouldn't get confusing, etc. The lower a child's skill level and the more they struggle, the more important it is to go slow and in order, and ensure mastery.

    I don't have any of the Reading Mastery books in front of me, and haven't used them much personally, but from what I've read they also have phonemic awareness activities. I would start your 30 minute lesson with 5-10 minutes of phonemic awareness, 10-20 minutes of explicit phonics instruction, and possibly some sight word work for 5 minutes or so toward the end. As time passes and his phonemic awareness increases, you can decrease the time spent on that. Also, if he isn't to the point where he can decode CVC words accurately, you probably don't need to have him read books beyond the initial 2 levels of Guided Reading (the books that are highly repetitive that are used more for developing reading behavior rather than teaching new words, decoding, etc.

    I haven't used the Phonics Their Use book, but you may be able to pull some creative ideas from that. If you add in other activities, though, the big thing is that you stay with the Reading Mastery curriculum - don't teach /d/ in Reading Mastery, for example, then switch over and do a lesson on /h/ in the Phonics They Use. Stick with the same letter.

    If you google phonemic awareness activities you'll probably find tons of lesson plans for free, etc., with some good creative ideas, but I'd focus your efforts on getting your core intervention curriculum down first, rather than running around trying to find every creative idea you can.

    Alright, so this is a TON of information, but it's honestly what I would recommend. I wouldn't do anything less than DIBELS for assessment, and I'd use Reading Mastery for the intervention lessons since you have it. You'll probably have questions - I'm on here fairly often, as are a lot of other knowledgeable folks, so let us know what you think/need!
     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 2, 2011

    Oh, and one follow up note about progress/further evaluation, sort of continuing the previous discussion. Once you start with the serious phonics/phonemic awareness activities, if you don't see any progress on the DIBELS measures in the areas of Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF), First Sound Fluency (FSF), and Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (PSF) - or if he isn't closing in on the benchmark goals (I'll link to those below) within a few months - I'd say by late April/early May, you may want to consider bringing him to the attention of the child-study team/a-team/problem-solving team and discussing the possibility of referral for evaluation at that point.

    At this point, though, if he doesn't know basic letter sounds like /d/, you probably won't see much growth in oral reading fluency (words correct per minute) for at least several months, because he has to build up a certain amount of skill with letter-sound correspondences and skill with blending those together before his fluency (WCM) jumps beyond 10 or 20.

    Here's the link for the DIBELS benchmark goals - these say the scores that the child should be getting at certain times of the year (by grade) in order to be at "low risk" for future reading difficulty.

    http://dibels.org/next/downloads/DIBELSNextBenchmarkGoals.pdf
     
  15. mom2kkj

    mom2kkj Rookie

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    Mar 2, 2011

    I am loving this thread! I teach Kindergarten and have 2 students who are really struggling. One is young and I think he will eventually "get it". The other....not the case. She actually seems to have a lot of trouble retaining anything...
    I wanted to be sure you knew about the website
    www.fcrr.org
    It has WONDERFUL games for everything talked about! You just print them out for free!
    Good luck!
     
  16. melvin

    melvin Rookie

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    Mar 2, 2011

    Hearing?

    Has his hearing been tested recently? I know it sounds simple, but I have known a few instances where a kid's hearing has been impaired, and it has not been readily apparent.
     
  17. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Mar 8, 2011

    Melvin, that's a good question. He seems to be okay -- he tells stories well, creates great sentences,and participates fully in oral discussions of all kinds. I will ask the nurse -- she has information on those things.

    I was just told by my principal that I am not allowed to work with kids one-on-one anymore...grrr...but she never comes up here so I will do what I want anyway!
     
  18. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Mar 8, 2011

    WHAT????!!!!???? That is absolutely insane!

    Edit: what your principal said, not your response.
     
  19. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Oh yeah, insane is the word around this place. I just tested (using DIBELS) the student I am concerned about and....=(

    It was like pulling teeth. He just does not seem to hear sounds at the beginning, or the middle. To segment the word hall he said "ll...o" I reminded him to say the sounds not the letters, and he said "ow".

    Then on the nonsense words the very first sample one is sog. He said p-...and said it again. I asked him what the first letter was, and he refused to answer, then said s as though I were stupid. I asked what sound s made, and he told me, and then he said the word was...kip. It is so frustrating. When he was tested on the words, he said just the first sounds, or just the last sounds, but almost never all the sounds.

    Then when he was reading the stories, he was messing up on words that I know he knows -- words I've heard him read correctly over and over before. =(
     
  20. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 8, 2011

    Nice that you did DIBELS! Very, very unfortunate that you were told not to do 1:1 - was that because there just isn't enough time? Did you get a reason? If there are other kids you are working with, you may be able to put him in a group with other kids that are on the same level.

    Alright, so about the results - definitely very low with phonemic awareness - sounds essentially non-existent. If you are able to continue the 1:1, or work with him in a group of similar peers, I'd spend at least 10-15 minutes of your 30 on phonemic awareness - until you start seeing the child at least being able to separate onset/rime. You'd still want to keep up with the phonemic awareness activities, but might be able to reduce time spent some once he has some skills developed.

    In terms of decoding, I was a bit confused - you mentioned sometimes he would get first sounds or last sounds correct, but not all? Were there any sounds that he was consistently able to sound out?

    Finally, yes - that can be totally frustrating when assessment results vary like that. Sometimes, it can be fatigue - if you were assessing him longer than usual, or asking him to do things that were over his head, he could have just been fatigued or shut down mildly from the process. Also, with kids who have developed some site words but no decoding, "going back" to start decoding can sometimes be a bit confusing because you're asking them to rethink things that were already automatic - previously, you just wanted him to look at a word as a whole and identify it. When you started doing NWF, though, you gave the signal that you wanted him to go letter by letter, which might have resulted in his mind being bogged down with processing the task or reading words 2 different ways. If you are able to do the phonics/phonemic awareness stuff with him, you may see a bit of that struggle, but he will be a stronger reader in the long-run, and you can still do site word activities to keep up his skills in that area.

    One final thought - if you really won't be able to do any 1:1 or group work in the area of phonics or phonemic assessment, it would be wise to start considering a referral for evaluation. Based on the assessment results you've described, he definitely will need intensive support to have any chance of having a successful academic career. If he's not going to get it with you, it would be important to find a setting where he can!

    Let us know your thoughts on the stuff above!
     
  21. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Mar 9, 2011

    I am going to start doing as much phonemic awareness stuff as possible -- he obviously needs it.

    I just assessed him with the Woodcock-Johnson (haha) Reading Battery, and in almost every section he scored at about age 6 and a half, and in the beginning part of first grade. However, his Oral Vocabulary score put him at his age (8-1) and the grade he's supposed to be in (2-7), and his Oral Comprehension score put him at age 11.1 and grade 5.6.

    So it is written words that are getting in his way. He will not be evaluated because if he is, my special education director will decide he is MR (which he isn't; she's just crazy) and he will not get proper services.

    With me, I am going to do phonemic awareness (please recommend any and all activities for this!) for 10-15 minutes, phonics for another 5-10, sight words, and reading a book. Every day. One to one.

    Oh, and the reason my principal wants me to work in larger groups is that I expressed concern over my time with older students, with whom I already work in groups. I have too much other administrative stuff to get done to work with them in any effective way. Her solution: work with younger kids in groups. So...that solves no problems. :thumb: <--sarcastic
     
  22. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 9, 2011

    I can't imagine working in your school - thankfully you not me. I wouldn't be able to take it.

    Quick comment about the woodcock johnson (your humor was noted, by the way) - this isn't always highly accurate, especially with learners as young as yours. The difference between whole grade levels or multiple percentile jumps can be as little as one or two answers correct in some parts of the test. Whenever you get close to the basal or ceiling with an assessment, weird things can sometimes happen. Your DIBELS data is going to be more reliable and specific when you compare his scores tot he benchmarks they list on the website.

    Another side note about SPIRE - in rethinking, it does NOT cover phonemic awareness, nor any single consonant letters. They have a downward extension called Sounds Sensible which covers phonemic awareness and single consonant decoding. I know you're not there yet, but just wanted to put that on your radar.
     
  23. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Mar 10, 2011

    I think I'm going to change tactics slightly and present words like a code he has to break. I'm going to write sentences that are clues to catching a spy or something, and help him figure out the clues. I haven't worked it all out yet...somehow these ideas come to me in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping, and not when I have planning time!

    I will keep you updated. =) Thanks for all your help!!
     

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