Welcome to Kinderland, the place I spend most my time! Since I started teaching Kindergarten I read as many books for fun as I do for work. And I decided it’s time to start sharing them! In Books From Kinderland you’ll see the picture books I’m reading with my class from a teacher’s perspective. I’ll also share reviews of books I’m reading that are about teaching. So welcome to Kinderland!
The books I’m sharing today are about letter studies. As a Kinder teacher, you can imagine I spend a significant amount of my time teaching kids their letters and their sounds – it’s kind of the first step to being able to read. And there have been a lot of studies about the best way to do that. I had been following the model that my mentor teacher gave me… a letter a week (which also matched what my district schedules for us). But from reading some research I learned that this was considered outdated and so I decided to really dig in and read about it over the summer.No More Teaching a Letter a Week by Rebecca McKay, William H Teale, Ellin Oliver Keene, Nell K. Duke
Published by Heinemann Educational Books on September 4, 2015
This was the first book I picked up and it really laid out the research convincingly. Teaching kids letters in isolation is the opposite of how we use them, so it doesn’t actually aid their learning process. I could really relate to some of the examples… where you taught the letter “m” two weeks ago and the kids knew it and now they don’t. And you’re going why? Well now I know why — because isolating it from words and usage doesn’t make it anything real to them. I mean yeah, we look at words when we teach it and we try to find words that start with the sound, etc. But that’s not the same as learning it quickly, in connection with other letters where they can put it to immediate use on their own.
"Letter-a-week" may be a ubiquitous approach to teaching alphabet knowledge, but that doesn't mean it's an effective one. In No More Teaching a Letter a Week, early literacy researcher Dr. William Teale helps us understand that alphabet knowledge is more than letter recognition, and identifies research-based principles of effective alphabet instruction, which constitutes the foundation for phonics teaching and learning. Literacy coach Rebecca McKay shows us how to bring those principles to life through purposeful practices that invite children to create an identity through print.
Children can and should do more than glue beans into the shape of a "B"; they need to learn how letters create words that carry meaning, so that they can, and do, use print to expand their understanding of the world and themselves.
I probably didn’t need to read this book to get the full scope of the message. But it was a quick read and did help solidify my decision to move forward, breaking away from the traditional 1 letter a week.
No More Letter of the Week, PreK-K: A Framework for Integrating Reading Strategies and Cueing Systems with Letter-Sound Introduction by Patricia D. Lusche
Published by Staff Development for Educator on January 1, 2003
Informative, unique, and classroom-friendly framework that takes letter-sound instruction to a whole new level.
In some ways this feels extremely dated, even though it’s not more than 15 years old! After having decided to move away from teaching a letter a week you start to wonder how, and this book definitely had a prescribed method. I’m just not sure it’s a practical one it seems to depend on a lot more parent involvement than I think most of us can expect, more classroom volunteers, and probably smaller classes (aka a dream world). That being said, I think that a good educator can see the goals of those methods and find good ideas that just need some adaptation for the classroom. And if you have that ideal scenario then you have a whole system in place from this book, including most the resources you’d need!
This year I chose to use ABC Bootcamp, which is sold by Greg @ The Kindergarten Smorgasboard, to do my letter studies. It does a letter a day – and while No More Letter of the Week had a system for teaching letters quickly, it was way too difficult a system to try and adopt. So I’m glad I went Greg’s system. It worked too. You’ll always have those outliers who just aren’t developmentally ready for Kindergarten or who have IQ challenges to overcome, but for the most part, my class was able to conquer their letters learning them one letter a day. I’m thinking next year I’ll be more aggressive with it and go straight to word families after doing a letter a day instead of the way I did this year, which was a letter review. I was nervous and hesitant about speeding things up and I don’t think my kids really needed that extra time with the letters at all.This week in Kinderland Berls is talking about Letter Studies and how she changed her classroom instruction for the better! Click To Tweet