Five Big Ideas of Early Literacy

-Phonemic Awareness

-Alphabetic Principle








What makes a Big Idea a Big Idea?

· Predictive of reading acquisition and later reading achievement.

· Something we can do something about, i.e., something we can teach.

· Something that improves outcomes for children if/when we teach it.



Phonemic Awareness


What is Phonological Awareness?

· The ability to hear and manipulate the sound structure of language. This is an encompassing term that involves working with the sounds of language at the word, syllable, and phoneme (sound) level.


The Importance of Phonemic Awareness

· Phonemic awareness teaches students to attend to sounds.  It primes the connection of sound to print.

· Phonemic awareness gives students a way to approach reading new words.

· Phonemic awareness helps students understand the alphabetic principle, that letters in words are systematically represented by sounds.


Phonemic Awareness is not phonics.  Phonemic Awareness is auditory and does not involve words in print.  It is awareness of sounds.



Alphabetic Principle

What is the Alphabetic Principle?

· The ability to associate sounds with letters and use these sounds to form words.

o The understanding that words in spoken language are represented in print.

o Sounds in words relate to the letters that represent them.


What the Research Says About Alphabetic Principle

· Letter-sound knowledge is prerequisite to effective word identification.  A primary difference between good and poor readers is the ability to use letter-sound correspondences to identify words.

· Students who acquire and apply the alphabetic principle early in their reading careers reap long-term benefits.

· Teaching students to phonologically recode words is difficult, demanding, yet achievable goal with long-lasting effects.







What the Research Says About Fluency

· Successful readers…

o rely primarily on the letters in the word rather than context or pictures to identify familiar and unfamiliar words.

o process virtually every word they read.

o use letter-sound correspondences to identify words.

o have a reliable strategy for decoding words.

o read words numerous times to build instant recognition.

· Fluency provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension.

· Proficient readers are so automatic with each component skill (phonological awareness, decoding, vocabulary) that they focus their attention on constructing meaning from the print.

· If a reader has to spend too much time and energy figuring out what the words are, she will be unable to concentrate on what the wordsmean.





What the Research Says About Vocabulary

· Children enter school with meaningful differences in vocabulary knowledge as a result of differences in experiences and exposure to literacy and language activities.

· The vocabulary gap grows larger in the early grades.  Children who enter with limited vocabulary knowledge become more discrepant over time from their peers who have rich vocabulary knowledge.


The best way to foster vocabulary growth is to promote wide reading

· Research has shown that children who read even ten minutes a day outside of school experience substantially higher rates of vocabulary growth between second and fifth grade than children who do little or no reading.





What is Comprehension?

· Comprehension is the essence of reading

o Comprehension is the complex cognitive process involving the intentional interaction between reader and text to extract or construct meaning.

o Reading comprehension is not an automatic or passive process, but is highly purposeful and interactive – good readers apply a variety of strategies to process text.


What the Research Says About Comprehension

· Readers who comprehend well are also good decoders.

· Time spent reading is highly correlated with comprehension.

· Effective instruction using high-quality curriculum materials can increase students’ comprehension.


Effective Comprehension Instruction:

· Teaches students explicit comprehension strategies that can be applied before, during, and after reading both narrative and expository text.

· For example, the National Reading Panel (2000) concluded that the following strategies have a firm scientific basis for improving text comprehension.

o   Priming prior knowledge / previewing / predicting

o   Identifying the main idea / summarizing

o   Using text structure / using graphic organizers

o   Answering and generating questions


Source: MiBLSi Reading Training Manual