LANGUAGE AND MULTILITERACIES (5 – 8 years)
Question: Can students understand phonics and making a connection between the sounds that make up the word and the meaning itself?
The description of the emergence of the question
The topic arose from the observation of the everyday experiences of the learners that the children are used to. After observing a fairy bread in one of the learner's containers, it appeared to be most appropriate for them to develop interest. Bread is common to children and seeing it often makes them develop confidence on given the simplicity of the subject. Children like stories and the use of the word “fairy” from the many fairy tales they have heard of in the past also makes the development interest of learning on the subject. Also, fairy bread is something they are accustomed to and would therefore want to know more about. Children like interesting, simple and accustomed to subjects for their learning to be effective.
Theoretical background to the question
Importance of phonics
Phonics forms one of the basic foundations of teaching children to read. It comprises the sounds and group of letters as they are pronounced systematically (Bald, 2007). The author notes that this foundation is critical as it is stored in the memory of children for later use for accurate and fluent reading. Learning sounds enables readers to understand the information more effectively than any other source. Wood (2011) concurs that learning phonics is essential to teach children, but insists that it should be done using stories and other interesting activities to the children such as writing and games that are appealing to them. In this light, the use of fairy bread is interesting to the children given that one of the learners was carrying the package and they are used to bread as a common commodity for them.
Learning becomes more interesting to the children when it is approached with spontaneity rather than accurately planned activities. The case of using fairy bread was more realistic as it is something they can easily relate to from their minds. It is not to be a laborious activity that will bog down the learners, but rather a casual dedication to at least 10-20 minutes a day for the subject. It is noteworthy that some learners respond better to certain teachers who read out to them. However, the procedure of teaching of phonics is structured and similar in all situations. Lapp et al (2006) advised that teaching phonics should start with auditory discrimination, using printed material. When incorporating exercises to teach phonics, it is advisable to stay within the limits of the context. When teaching, starting with consonants that are more “consistent in letter and sound” as compared to vowels that are influenced by different dialects. Also, the minds of children learn quick simple words compared to confusing words. Simple words from everyday objects and activities should be used to encourage the children to grasp the concepts faster.
Description of the environment of investigation
The ages for which the following environment will be investigated ranged between 5-6 years. Children are easily distracted and are the pace of learning I highly dependent on the environment. For this reason, educators are advised on setting up an environment that encourages them to learn. It ought not to be too restrictive or structured in a way that forces the learners to follow a particular order of learning. Levin (2003) noted that it is unfruitful to stick to any particular order, but rather let the environment and mood dictate how to go about learning phonics. One could start with chanting poems, spellings of words, or assigning sound to letters of certain words that they are familiar with. Ellis and Lewis (2006) observed that an encouraging environment has an attractive display of books and posters around the room. It should literally be “littered” practical gaming materials and labeled displays around the room. The educator used one of the rooms in the house where the kids use for reading to allow them “switch” to learning. The displayed materials should be relevant to what they are taught in class. For the case of using fairy bread to teach phonics, having colorful pictures of the bread on the board while teaching while syllables of the word “bread” as per the sounds of the letters should be encouraged. An environment with pictures of what the learners are to be taught encourages them to associate faster with the objects, thereby developing a learning interest.
Relating children’s knowledge to their prior knowledge
The children were aware of most of the materials that were used to demonstrate the usage of phonics. The teaching process ensured to deliver teaching what the students were aware of rather than what would confuse them. The materials that are used such as bread, tin, book, paper, jug –were simple enough for them to use. The learners knew how these words were spelled but not all of them were aware of different sounds that were associated with the letters. The sounds in the word “paper” were different from “letter”, but the learners did not understand why pronunciation was different. However, they were aware that language was made up of individual words, that were also formed from individual letters. Most of the words that were used in this group were mostly length of three words, such as pet, mom, dad, car, and pen, although common objects such as book and bread were occasionally used in the teaching assignment.
Provocations to sustain inquiry
The educator ensured the words that would be used are easy and learners are well aware of them. Words that had vowels and started with consonants were easy to learn. These included objects they were used to such as cars, pens, pens, pens, hats, etc. They were all easily available materials that were displayed at the time of learning. The questions that were used were posed on the expectation that they were all accustomed to them. The words were simple and activities that were performed such as running, crying, etc., were all practical to demonstrate to all children how the words sounded when readout. Some of the questions asked included, “how many of you ride in a car?”, “who likes eating bread”, “which running games do they like”? etc. These were activities or objects that were practical and inclusive of all the students.
To show the meaning of these statements in form of questions, the students were put out in an open field where they played games that involved “crying”, running, etc. Also, in an open place in the compound, the objects which were used such as cars were demonstrated and car toys used. The materials were cheaply obtained in children's toy stores. To make the learning interesting, colorful 3-dimensional alphabetical letters were and numbers were used and children used to arrange them to form objects such as cars, pens, etc. After arranging, others were used to identify the objects that were described by the formed letters. Separation of the letters could then follow on several of the formed words, representing objects they identified, by reading out loud several times a week for between 15-20 minutes, the children memorized sounds for different letters in certain words. The educator mainly chose objects to be formed by letters and separated the letters according to their sounds. The magnetic words that were formed by the learners were displayed and lifted by the students. This way, they were reading by sight using flashcards. The separation allowed children to discriminate certain letters when reading them loud (Owen & Pumfrey, 1995). The duo also noted that using three-lettered words allowed the learners to increase word recognition.
Objectives of the project
The exercise mainly attempted to achieve the following objectives:
i. Enable learners to increase word recognition
ii. Assist students to assign and discriminate sounds for letters in different words
This would be done by using visually attractive words using the letters several times a week. As the children learn one, aspect, the educator will introduce four and five-lettered words. Recapping words from past sessions will be used to assess the student's memorized important aspects even as they learn advanced words at their comprehension level.
iii. Facilitate the reading ability of learners in later reading and comprehension stages
Since language is based on words from everyday use, the words the learners will be used will have an impact on their vocabulary development and reading skills in later stages of learning.
Teaching learners phonics is aimed at assisting them to learn to read and comprehend at later stages when they will be faced with complex exercises. The importance of the program may not be apparent at the incipiency but learners with reading difficulties can easily be traced to the poor background in learning phonics. For this exercise to be interesting, the educator needs to be creative and dedicated to explore the best learning setup that will achieve the stated objectives. Children need to be introduced to simple objects which they see as they learn. The process needs to be somewhat informal but purposeful. It is to be short for the students not to be bored with the process. All children have unique learning challenges which should be appreciated by the educator to ensure all learners gain from the teaching experience. It is, for this reason, that teaching phonics need to be unstructured but be in a way that arouses the interest of learners. Once they memorize sounds for certain letters, the learners would appreciate the phonics approach, which they would use in other advanced stages.
Bald, J. (2007) Using phonics to teach reading and spelling, London: Cengage Leaning.
Lapp, D., Flood, J., Brock, C H & Fisher, D (2006)Teaching reading to every child, New York: Taylor and Francis
Levin, B. B. (2003) Case Studies of Teacher Development: An In-Depth Look at How Thinking About pedagogy development over time, New York: Taylor and Francis.
Lewis, M & Ellis, S. (2006) Phonics: Practice, Research and Policy, London: Paul Chapman Chapman
Owen, P. & Pumfrey, P. D. (1995) Children Learning to Read: Emergent and developing reading, New York: Taylor and Francis.
Wood, T. (2011) Teaching kids to read for dummies, New York: John Wiley and Sons.