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Using a Cognitive Apprenticeship Model to Support Emergent Literacy in Children

Preliminary Thoughts on Topic and Needs/Learner Analysis

Research indicates that phonological processing abilities (most importantly, phonemic awareness), vocabulary, oral language abilities, and concepts of print are predictors of later reading success. Using these predictors, students can be identified as at-risk for reading failure, and prescriptive instruction can be provided. This project aims to prepare preschool teachers to develop these skills in their students. As research has also shown that modeling and practicing with feedback is an effective strategy for teaching young children these skills, this project aims to develop an understanding of the cognitive apprenticeship model for use in supporting emergent literacy.

For the learner analysis, I will assume a target learner pool of preschool teachers.

  • Perhaps I can survey local preschool teachers to determine the following: professional development level, related course work in emergent literacy, survey prior knowledge in each of the four target areas, survey current practice relative to each of the four target areas, attitudes/interest/motivation for the topic of emergent literacy, student abilities demonstrated in class regularly, identify resources and space constraints, and any other concerns they have. However, conducting such a survey could be problematic as I would have to establish relationships with the schools, create the surveys, and conduct the surveys within just a few days.
  • It might also be possible to find some information on preschool teacher preparation and practice on the internet, I suppose.

Developing Phonemic Awareness in Kindergarten Children

Narrowing my Topic

Research indicates that phonemic awareness predicts later success in reading (Wood, Hill, Meyer, & Flowers 2005). Research has also shown that phonemic awareness can be taught(Castiglioni-Spalten & Ehri 2003). It is the intent of this mini-course to help kindergarten teachers learn more about phonemic awareness and how to teach it to their kindergarten students.

Needs Assessment

Part 1: Intent

Many students experience difficulty learning to read. It has been shown that phonemic awareness is a strong predictor of later reading success. It has also been shown that phonemic awareness can be taught (Castiglioni-Spalten & Ehri 2003), and that explicit instruction in phonemic awareness can yield gains in reading (Hindson et. al. 2005 & Bursuck et. al. 2004). My hypothesis is that some kindergarten teachers may not be prepared for developing phonemic awareness in their students. My proposed solution is to provide a mini-course to help them understand phonemic awareness and how to help develop it in their students.

Part 2: Gathering Information

In order to assess the possible need for a mini-course on phonemic awareness, a survey of kindergarten teachers was conducted as well as some research into teacher preparation requirements for certification. Fifteen surveys were distributed and three responses were received. Tremendous gratitude is extended to those three respondents for sharing their input through these surveys.

Part 3a: Summary

A summary of the survey results are included in the doc file entitled,File:Survey responses.doc

Part 3b: Revised Intent

All of the respondents in this survey have been teaching kindergarten for more than 5, but less than 15 years, which means that the teacher preparation programs they attended to become certified to teach were constructed prior to publication of the results of the National Reading Panel meta-analysis of scientific reading studies which identified phonemic awareness as one of several key components for reading instruction (NRP 2000).

Based on the responses to this survey, although all respondents indicated adequate or extensive teacher preparation for phonemic awareness and phonics, it appears that there may be some confusion for some teachers about the importance of phonemic awareness in reading, and about the difference between phonemic awareness training and phonics instruction.

All respondents indicated letter knowledge and print knowledge as pre-requisite milestones for phonics instruction. Only one indicated oral language and play with sounds as an essential pre-requisite for phonics. While all of the respondents demonstrated understanding of onsets and rimes, two-thirds associated them with spelling instruction only. While all of the responses to the phonemic awareness related questions on the survey indicated agreement with statements that show support for phonemic awareness training, only one indication of strong agreement was noted. Far more strong agreement indications were given on statements about the need for phonics activities in kindergarten was indicated than simple agreement indicators, implying that kindergarten teachers may find phonics instruction to be of greater importance to them.

According to the NYS Department of Education website for teacher certification at http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/, NY state teacher certification requirements currently include course work on Literacy Skills and Literacy Methods, but there is no indication of the degree to which phonemic awareness is required to be included in those courses. It is expected that this varies from program to program. It is also expected that teachers who have been teaching longer than fifteen years would have had less training in phonemic awareness and those who have completed their teacher preparation within the last five years would have more as certification requirements have been recently updated.

Therefore, a mini-course on phonemic awareness training that also helps to differentiate it from phonics instruction is warranted to address any confusion or missing information for kindergarten teachers of diverse teacher preparation programs.

Course Purposes and Performance Objectives

Purpose 1: To provide basic education on phonemic awareness (ie. what it is; what it is not; its role in early reading success, etc.)

  • States the meaning of phonemic awareness by defining phonemic awareness in self-generated language.
  • States the difference between phonemic awareness training and phonics instruction by outlining the contrast in self-generated language.
  • States the role of phonemic awareness in early reading by describing early reading processes in self-generated language.

Purpose 2: To provide training in skills and strategies needed for supporting students’ phonemic awareness development

  • Demonstrates teaching strategies by performing those teaching strategies.
  • Classifies phonemic awareness activities and phonics instruction activities by sorting sample activities.

Purpose 3: To encourage the use of phonemic awareness training activities in kindergarten classrooms

  • Chooses to support phonemic awareness development by incorporating phonemic awareness training activities in classroom instruction.

Task Analyses

Task analyses for each performance objective identified above are provided in a doc file entitled, File:Task analyses.doc

Curriculum Map

The curriculum map for this course is provided in a doc file, entitled, File:Curriculum map.doc

Unit Objectives, Sequencing, and Instruction

The overall layout of this course has been framed on the main course page in the following sections:

  • Introduction:
    • Background information
    • Course purposes and performance objectives
    • Pre-requisites information including a Quick Quiz to assess pre-requisites and a brief lesson for instruction on the pre-requisites if needed.
  • Instruction:
    • Unit One
    • Unit Two
    • Unit Three
  • Conclusion:
    • Review of course purposes
    • Assessment of outcomes including a course survey through survey monkey.
    • Resources for further information and sources used in the creation of this mini-course.

Each of the Units has objectives identified; however, the objectives are not necessarily written in their original performance formats as indicated on the task analyses and curriculum map posted above, nor are they broken into all of their component objectives, as it didn't seem very user friendly that way for the participants. I re-worded them to be more comfortable for the participants. As most of my objectives fall into verbal information and procedural knowledge, I sequenced them based on what information would be helpful for subsequent learning and also moving from simple to complex. This is especially evident in Unit Two.

It is my intention to use a sort of cognitive apprenticeship model in providing the instruction in the three units, along with direct instruction for verbal information and procedural knowledge (which is most of the course). I also intend to have interactive learning activities where student response is elicited and correction is provided via audio files. I also intend to encourage reflection and expression in writing using the learner's own words.

Peer Review: Formative Feedback Response

In the comments provided by my reviewer, it was suggested that I adjust the wording of the performance objectives in the Introduction section of my course page. I believe the adjustment does make the performance objectives more user friendly. To see them in their original form see them above on this Portfolio Page.