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Using Scaffolding to Teach Phonemic Awareness in Preschool and Kindergarten - Essay Example

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The essay "Using Scaffolding to Teach Phonemic Awareness in Preschool and Kindergarten" states that In this article, the authors McGee and Ukrainetz emphasize on the importance of building phonemic awareness in children from a younger age, which according to them, would pave the way. …
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Using Scaffolding to Teach Phonemic Awareness in Preschool and Kindergarten
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Essay In this article, the McGee and Ukrainetz emphasize on the importance of building phonemic awareness in children from a younger age, which according to them, would pave the way for better reading in their latter years. Previous studies have shown that through proper guidance and instruction, children can be trained to analyze the sounds in words and to segment the words in to phonemes. However despite the inclusion of phonemic awareness programs in the curricula, a majority of teachers have not been able to successfully use the technique. Thus the present article aims to provide a successful method to inculcate this awareness among pre-school and kindergarten children.
A qualitative research approach was used for the program. A phonemic awareness lesson taught by a preschool teacher was taken for analysis which showed that children picked randomly were unable to comprehend or understand phonemics of words. Several factors, such as socio-cultural, non-understanding of the teacher’s instructions, or of the words used or what they are exactly required to do, could be the reason for the silent responses of these children. Hence support systems that could be provided by the teachers were worked upon which lead to devising the scaffolding method of creating phonemic awareness, which is reviewed in this article. Through the process of scaffolding teachers provide a support system, through comments and instructions, to children to complete a given task. It is not a random assignment process as it is tailor-made for each child depending on their inherent ability to perform the task. Keeping in mind the outcomes that could be expected from children who have varying grasping and performing abilities, three levels of scaffolding have been proposed. Beginning with children who have the least ability to grasp what is being told up to children who have a good grasping power, each level in scaffolding provides specific help to the children until the desired result is obtained. The authors have provided a transcript which outlines how the three levels of scaffolding have been used with children in a preschool classroom. However the effect size in this study is too small to ascertain the reach of this process among children.
The three levels of scaffolding explained in the article include: intense, moderate and minimum. In the case of intense scaffolding the beginning phoneme is isolated and the teacher emphasizes on the phoneme while saying the word. In addition the teacher also instructs the children to watch them as they mouth the sound and the child is then asked to say the phoneme along with the teacher and later alone. In the case of moderate scaffolding the teacher uses some or all of the prompts such as laying emphasis on the phoneme, asking the child to watch them but they do not “model the correct response” along with the child, thus leaving the child to respond the teachers instructions on their own. In the case of minimum scaffolding, the teacher merely stresses the first sound while uttering the word and if the child is able to repeat it, they are made to do the rest of the tasks in a similar manner. Thus in this way, based on the ability of each child, the teacher will have to employ the various levels of scaffolding until the minimum level is reached thereafter which the child would be able to cope better with studying further complex phonemes. This scaffolding method was used in kindergarten where children were trained to segment ending phonemes as well as all the phonemes in single-syllable words. The same concept was employed in kindergarten in games such as “fishing for phonemes”. In this the children, using a magnet, were made to pick out pictures of single-syllable words, then identify the word and the teacher later employed the various levels of scaffolding which enabled the children to segment the phonemes in the word.
Quantitative data has suggested that using the scaffolding methodology, nearly 75% preschool children were able to isolate 7 or more out of the 10 beginning sounds in words, while only 5% could not perform a similar or moderate task before leaving kindergarten. The responses from teachers who taught preschool and kindergarten children found the awareness program helpful in improving the reading practices. Moreover, since a majority of the children belonged to lower income groups, such a program functioned as a good aid to help them improve their reading skills. However more data would be required to determine the efficacy of the practice and also to justify the propagation of such as practice.
McGee, L. M & Ukrainetz, T.A. (2009). Using Scaffolding to Teach Phonemic Awareness in Preschool and Kindergarten. The Reading Teacher, 62(7): 599-603. Read More
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