Monday, February 20, 2017

Vocabulary and Early Literacy

Top of Form
 To understand early literacy development, I focus next on words. Children need to be able to identify/decode words.  They also need to know the meaning of the words they read. Vocabulary knowledge is central to reading and reading comprehension. Five topics will be addressed over the next few weeks:

1 Oral Language Development of Vocabulary—as the basis for reading vocabulary
2 The Matthew Effect—the impact of early vocabulary development and the achievement gap
3 Academic Vocabulary
4 Vocabulary Differences in Narrative and Information Texts
5 Vocabulary Instruction.

Oral Language Development of Vocabulary: Three Perspectives

Speaking and Listening for Preschool Through Grade Three, Lauren B. Resnick and Catherine B. Snow, IRA, 2009
“Speaking and listening are the foundation of reading and writing. A child who does not have a large and fluent vocabulary will have difficulty with every aspect of reading, from recognizing or sounding out words to making sense of a story or directions.” (p. vi)
“From the time they are infants until they are about 8 years old, children learn most of what they know by hearing other people talk: Talking is the main way children get to know the world, understand complex events, and encounter different perspectives.” (p. 3)

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Winter 2001 by Lori Hough
The beginning of the reading process…

“The reading process begins, of course, way before kids even walk into classes like McCaffrey’s.  As Shonkoff, a former pediatrician and current director of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, says, “Kids learn to understand words before they speak them.” As soon as parents and caregivers pick up a cooing baby and coo back, the process begins, with the baby beginning to understand the back and forth of conversation.
By the time a child is 18 months old, Shonkoff writes in his book, From Neurons to Neighborhoods, their world is a language explosion, acquiring, on average, about nine new words a day, every day, through preschool.”  … He continues

“By the time children enter formal education, it is estimated that they know the meaning of about 5,000 to 6,000 words when they hear them, and can probably recognize in print a handful of easily memorized “sight words” — words like “the” and “to” and “stop” that pop up often in books and on signs and menus.”

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
The Importance of the Number of Words Known by Age Five for Later School Achievement by Andrew Biemiller.
“Children who do not know many words by the end of kindergarten often have poor reading comprehension in later grades. By the time children begin kindergarten, they have already acquired much of their language. They speak in sentences and they understand simple stories and simple explanations. By 5 years of age, most children probably know more than one or two thousand root word meanings.”…..
“I estimate that by the beginning of kindergarten, children’s vocabulary size ranges from 2300 root word meanings (average for children with low vocabularies) to 4700 root word meanings (average for children with high vocabularies).
During the grades from kindergarten to grade two, the difference between children with small and large vocabularies continues to get larger. By the end of grade two, children in the low vocabulary group average 4000 root word meanings, children in the average vocabulary group know about 6000 meanings, and children in the large vocabulary group average 8000 meanings. These large vocabulary differences have developed before children have had much of an opportunity to build vocabulary from their own reading. Beginning readers (kindergarten-grade two) mainly read “primer” texts using relatively few words.”  …..  He continues:
“In this section, I discuss how words are learned and how some children come to know many more words than other children. I will also discuss how home differences and child-care interventions affect word development.”  He also gives offers several lists of specific words:
“See Table 1 for a list of some preschool words and their meanings. See Table 2 for a list of word meanings recommended for attention, explanation, or instruction for children ages 3 to 5 years. [There are approximately 40 pages that make up these lists.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Development of “articulation skills”

“Believe it or not, children begin to develop these skills starting at BIRTH! I know I know, babies are not born talking…but they are born listening and listening is the first step in learning how to produce speech sounds, which in turn will turn into meaningful words, phrases and sentences! If I remember correctly (I’ll go find the study and link it back here) children learn the sounds of their native language by NINE MONTHS OF AGE!”

Growing more and more “articulate” 
“Children develop the ability to produce speech sounds at different rates. For example, research shows that two year olds are 50-75% intelligible, while three-year olds are 75-100% intelligible. That means it’s normal if a 3-year old talks, and you only understand 3/4 of what he/she says…..”

Progressing from oral to written sounds
Learning “sounds” progresses from oral to written language with the development of phonics, an essential skill in learning to read.  Here are links that addresses the relevant phonological/phonemic awareness and phonics/decoding skills.

Phonological/phonemic awareness skills

Phonics instruction helps children learn the relationships between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Language Development: A Starting Place for a Child's Development

A short excerpt.  Click link to see the entire posting.

I will use a Sound-Word-Sentence-Discourse framework to trace the development of oral language and its relationship to reading, beginning here with Sounds. Both the oral language development literature and the reading development literature are relevant. Taking the position that learning to read begins with oral language, an understanding of language development is critical.
We can trace the development of sounds and phonology (specifically, for our interests in early literacy, phonological awareness and the alphabetic principle)
*discrimination and articulation of sounds
*phonological awareness
*the alphabetic principles (sound/letter relationships)

Sounds: Oral Language Development Literature
There are several relevant developmental progressions for “sounds” or “sounds into words”. Of course, children learn about “sounds” before they learn about “written” words, although they know a great deal about “oral” words before they can read them.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Individual Differences and Learning

Individual Differences

As a developmental psychologist I know that children are born with differences.  One of the earliest differences is in temperament, recognizable shortly after birth.  As any parent or teacher will tell you, kids are individuals first and members of a “category”—sex/sexual orientation, cognitive ability, language development, social/emotional skills—secondarily.  Parents with more than one child or of twins recognize differences early on. Even in infancy, one of our twin daughters was active and spontaneous, the other quiet and thoughtful.  And I saw the same range of differences from early on in our twin granddaughters.  More recently as a Kindergarten volunteer, I have seen real differences in children across classrooms. 

We value differences in children and try to nurture their development.  I believe that excellent teachers do that too—value differences and nurture individual children.

I am concerned about particular kinds of differences—differences in privilege, opportunity, and learning.  More specifically, I am concerned about and committed to advocating for children trapped in the “achievement” gap and children born with a learning disability.  And so, in the roles of developmental psychologist, speech/language pathologist, and special education/learning “specialist,” I have focused on and will bring to this blog resources on early language, literacy and learning.  I will try to bring information and ideas from sources that advocate for these children, especially those that focus on the 3 to 3 range—3 months to 3 years to grade 3.

For me, probably due to my earliest training in elementary education and speech/language pathology, a natural starting place is language development.  I have written extensively about language development on another blog (Dialogue about Language, Literacy, and Learning), covering the 5 areas of language development: phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics.  You can follow those posts, starting with: Early Language Development:
 An Overview (March 19, 2014) with information from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association—“Hearing and Understanding and “Talking”.

Over time, the focus here will shift to literacy and, more specifically, reading because it is so central to learning and to school success and because so many of our vulnerable children are vulnerable because they cannot read “at grade level.”

Learning to use language and to read is not just about the children.  Learning involves adults who have the power to help children learn.  So the blog will also focus on teachers and parents and the role they can and sometimes do play in helping children to learn language and literacy skills.  In advocating for children and their growth we really need an ALL IN orientation.  Responsibility goes beyond parents and teachers. Others in education and the larger community also have roles to play; and I will address those roles and contributions as I find good sources and examples.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Learning Starts Day One from Let's Grow Kids

Monday, January 23, 2017

ALL IN Resources

From the U.S. Department of Education focus on early learning:
A short excerpt
In a continuing effort to inform the community of stakeholders who care for our children and to respond to continuing demand from the field, today ED is releasing a new resource guide for early learning educators and families as a follow-up to a 2015 Resource Guide focused on secondary students.”….
 “The resource guide includes two parts:
·         The first half of the resource guide, entitled Resource Guide: Building a Bright Future for All, provides tips for educators in early learning programs and elementary schools as well as schools, districts, and States to (1) facilitate school enrollment by immigrant families; (2) promote healthy child development in the school setting; (3) encourage caregiver engagement in children’s education; and (4) build staff capacity and knowledge about immigrant students and their educational needs.
·         The second half of the guide entitled Handbook for Parents, Guardians, & Families: Building a Bright Future for All provides tips for parents and guardians on how to promote and facilitate children’s education from birth and play an active role in helping to ensure their children’s success in school regardless of their own schooling history or context.”

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Complementary Approach to Early Language/Literacy Instruction

Coming in this week:

How do we find ways to provide "complementary" instruction

^ across oral and written language,

^ across the 5 dimensions of language and literacy?

^ across teacher and parent perspectives and roles,

^across settings: inside and outside the classroom,

^across individual differences in learners?