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Phonological awareness and phonemic knowledge: a glimpse inside a classroom.

There are various stages to children's development in phonological awareness and in the early years of schooling children will differ in the stages they have reached. Understanding each child's difference in phonological development is important as it allows teachers to ensure all the children in their classes are provided with appropriate learning experiences; Experiences that begin from where they are at and which assist them in continuing to develop in this important area of literacy learning. Elana Lenzo provides an overview of the phonological and phonemic development of two pre-primary children. She also gives us some insight into the writing behaviours of the two children. In systematically investigating the children's progress in these areas, Elana identifies the differences between the two children's development and their different learning needs.

In order to spell, a child must segment a word into its individual phonemes (or sounds) and choose a letter or letter combination to represent each phoneme.

In order to read an unfamiliar word phonemically, a child must attribute a phoneme to each letter or letter combination in the word and then merge the phonemes together to pronounce the word.

I worked with two pre-primary students, Troy and Sara, and carried out some assessment tasks using informal experiences with words, pictures and sounds with a view to finding out about their phonological and phonemic awareness knowledge. The following profiles emerged.

While Sara and Troy are both at the emergent phase in their overall literacy development, they have clear and differing strengths and specific needs in phonological and phonemic awareness. Sara has progressed further in her ability to manipulate sounds in words. Troy needs to be assisted with skills at one level and Sara at another.

Troy is confident in forming the letters of his name, but is unsure of how to write other letters of the alphabet. He demonstrates a reluctance to write in teacher initiated tasks and stopped writing a sentence for his rhyming book after he wrote the first letter. He prefers to use pictures instead of words, as was evident when he drew a beehive instead of writing the word 'bee' in his rhyming book. Troy is able to write the first letter of a word if he recognises its sound and symbol, but asks for teacher assistance to complete the word. He is able to read back dictated writing with some accuracy, but not word for word.

Sara is confident in writing her name and forming letter symbols. When writing, she uses a combination of upper and lower case letters and correctly represents the beginning sounds in words she wishes to spell. Sara is also aware that words are made up of multiple letters, and when she is unable to further distinguish the sounds in the words she stops writing and seeks assistance.

The detailed understanding of two children's development in this important area of literacy, provides an ideal starting point for the planning of differentiated literacy experiences where relevance to each child is a key characteristic.

SARA

Sara * Phonological awareness

Rhyming

Sara is able to match pictures that rhyme and generate rhyming words independently.

Syllables

Sara is able to identify how many syllables in a word with almost 100% accuracy.

Onset-Rime

Sara is able to separate the onset of word from the rime--CVC words

Alphabet Knowledge Letter Identifi fication

Sara is confident in writing her name and forming letter symbols. She correctly represents the beginning sounds in words she wishes to spell i.e. sTe (stair) and cO (cone)

Sara * Phonemic knowledge

Phoneme Isolation

Sara can isolate the first sound of words and is developing in her ability to identify the middle and end sounds.

Phoneme Categorisation

Sara can match pictures beginning with same sound and ending in the same sound.

Phoneme Identification

Sara is unable to identify what the same sound was in a set of pictures. The location of the sound in the words varied from beginning, middle to end

Phoneme Blending

Sara can blend words said to her in a segmented fashion.

Phoneme Segmentation

Sara is unable to segment given words into their sounds. However, she can identify the onset in words.

Phoneme Deletion, Addition and Substitution

Sara was unable to complete the tasks associated with these skills. When attempting to delete sounds she identified the rime of the words i.e. brush without b = ush instead of saying rush

TROY

Troy * Phonological awareness

Syllables

Troy is able to identify how many syllables are in word.

Rhyming

Troy is able to match pictures that rhyme and generates rhyming words independently.

Letter Identification

Confidence in forming the letters of his name but is unsure of how to write other letters. He is able to write the first letter of a word only--if he recognises its sound and symbol

Troy * Phonemic knowledge

Phoneme Isolation

Troy is able to isolate the first sound of words. However, he identified the letter names for end sounds and was unable to isolate the middle sound.

Phoneme Categorisation

Troy was unable to match pictures beginning with same sound and grouped rhyming words together when trying to identify which words ended in the same sound.

Phoneme Identification

Troy is able to state what the same sound was in a set of pictures with about 50% accuracy. The location of the sound in the words varied from beginning, middle to end.

Phoneme Blending

Troy was unable to blend segmented words.

Phoneme Segmentation

Troy attempts to segment words into their sounds. He is able to state the first sound but sometimes confuses letter names with sounds.

Phoneme Deletion, Addition and Substitution

Troy attempted to delete and add phonemes as asked and showed that he could make new words using the rime of the words presented but they did not match what the question asked to be manipulated e.g. clock without /c/ = dock (see Appendix C). Troy was unsuccessful in his attempts at phoneme substitution.
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Article Details
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Author:Lenzo, Elana
Publication:Practically Primary
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Words:981
Previous Article:Literacies and Learners: Current Perspectives, 3d ed.
Next Article:Are we teaching or testing reading comprehension?
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