Sunday, October 24, 2010

10 Ways to support Young Readers

ICT has an important role to play through engaging and supporting children while they are learning phonemes and how to blend and segment words. 

These will be achieved through a mix of adult and child-initiated activities as they begin to apply what they have learned.

The following ten tips are just a few of the ways that will support our future young readers, and writers!

1.         Using an interactive whiteboard to teach blending and segmenting
Look for programmes that can deliver blending and segmenting for you on an interactive whiteboard.

These need to give the children plenty of practice at learning individual phonemes, then blending and segmenting across the word, in the correct order.

A ‘voice over or character that models how to do this ensures that the children learn the correct way to pronounce the phonemes as they blend and segment. The interaction with the characters on screen is great fun!

It also releases the teacher from the need to use cards to hold up and practise. S/he is then free to ‘look, listen and note’ what the children are doing – providing on going, easy to manage and effective assessment.

2.         Using CD-ROM games to practise and develop new phonic skills on an interactive whiteboard
Look for programmes that allow the class to play games in teams.  The children will enjoy showing off their newly acquired skills of blending and segmenting as they compete with each other. Reading words that appear on screen quickly, identifying missing letters in words - all supported by animations and colourful characters will engage the children and further strengthen learning.   

3.         Support for teaching handwriting on an interactive whiteboard
There are well researched links between fluent handwriting and improved spelling - so use a phonics programme which uses animations to demonstrate how to form letters. The teacher can stand at the back of the class and observe the children copying the form of these letters as skywriting (writing words in the air with a finger). This is an easy and manageable way to assess children’s progress.

4.         Manipulating letters of the alphabet on an interactive whiteboard
The provision of colourful alphabet letters on screen – capital and lower case - allows pupils to create new words and captions. They will need to select capital or lower case letters according to what they are writing. Unlike an assortment of magnetic letters in trays, these will not run out, and because these are arranged alphabetically, they are easier to locate.

As they manipulate these letters, pupils are also learning about the conventions of print - left to right, top to bottom, for example, and that letters in simple consonant-vowel-consonant (cvc) words must be placed in the correct order. 

5.         Supporting the young writer on a PC – labels, signs, lists and rhymes
Teachers should type for the children when they are attempting to write their first lists and messages showing them how to say the word first then attempt to spell it by breaking it into individual phonemes. This can be linked to real purposes for writing, such as:
  • labels for the role-play shop
  • signs for the classroom
  • a shopping list for the role-play area
As children become more experienced in using the keyboard, expect them to type for themselves. Children enjoy working in pairs at the PC – plan activities where they are collaborating together to type out a verse from a well known nursery rhyme, This is easier than creating something, from scratch. 

6.         Making an alphabet book with your pupils for a toddler
Arrange for children to work in pairs at the computer, finding and inserting three pictures that all begin with a certain phoneme. Provide an alphabet on a strip by the computer and signal which phoneme they should use.  These can be printed off and with the help of the children, made into a zigzag book.  Invite some toddlers in when it is finished - and arrange for a group of pupils to share it with them.

7.         Digital Photography
Photograph children at play during different phonic activities e.g.
  • fishing for letters floating in a bowl of water
  • finding letters buried in sand
  • sorting and posting words starting with the same letter into the correct post box
Display these in the classroom on the boxes containing these resources – these will prompt the children to set up these phonic activities independently.

Take the children on a ‘print walk’ around the school and in the neighbourhood. Ask them to find signs, labels, street names and advertising captions on shop windows, and to take photos of these. 

When shared on screen with the children, or printed off and displayed, these form a great wealth of resources for looking closely at words, from initial letters to blending along whole words or parts of words. This encourages the children to think about the uses of print other than in books!

8.         Using a simple web cam to make a film 
Help children to video this blending and segmenting game ‘Cross the River’.

You need a puppet, a collection of cvc toys. e.g. cat, dog, hen, pig, cub, and five children. Give each child one toy and ask them to stand one side of the ‘river’ (a skipping rope).  The teacher stands on the other side of the ‘river’ and calls out the three sounds in a ‘robot voice’. Children listen carefully to the sounds, say the word to match their toy, and cross the river.

Video this game to save on a PC or interactive whiteboard and display as a screen saver throughout the year, to prompt the children to play this important game independently.

9.         Programmable toys
Using a control toy like a ‘Roamer’, stick individual phonemes on the back of the toy and ask the children to send it to the picture or toy that begins with that letter. Later on, stick cvc words on the toy and go through the same process. Later still, get children to write their own words and send it to their own selection of toys. Praise them for their spelling attempts.

10.       Search the web for phonic games, songs and stories.
Children may already be using some of these at home – ask their advice when you search with them! Make sure these games practise initial letter, or blending and segmenting through words in the correct order e.g. c-a-t and cat=c-a-t.


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