Kindergartners Learn New Routines For Reading And Writing Earlier
Noel Primary School has established new routines for teaching reading and writing to kindergartners and is seeing progress earlier than ever before.
“Last year, we were looking at what was working and not working for our students,” said Principal Deborah Pearson. “They were having trouble with their alphabet.”
She said they looked at the curriculum, its scope and sequence, how it is taught, when it is taught and units of instruction.
“We want to stay on the same scope and sequence as everyone else in the district because it is a district-wide curriculum, so we were trying to figure out how to fix this dilemma,” she said.
A large part of the problem is a deficit of language that Noel has because students come to the school speaking other primary languages, Pearson said. Research shows that it takes three to seven years to become fluent in another language.
“So, among the other challenges you have, we also have that barrier of teaching English to these students,” she said. “On the positive side, this is the best place for kids to learn English.”
What the faculty at Noel Primary decided to do was to take the alphabet and chunk it up into a number of letters per week that formed words quickly. The first letters were I, A, M. Forming “I am.”
“They could read ‘I am’ immediately and make that connection between reading, writing and language,” Pearson said. “As you add more letters, you can add more words.”
She said they also added forming questions. For the letters W, I, L, they formed the question “Will I?”
“Students are starting to answer and ask more questions and speak more,” she said. “Speaking and listening is a focus at the beginning of the year, so it helps support that.”
Also, instead of teaching capital letters first, they taught lowercase letters first, because 90 percent of words are written in lowercase letters, and because writing lowercase letters helps develop fine motor skills in the curve, slant and line production, Pearson said.
“We have kids writing and reading now, and it’s usually December before that happens. We’re pretty excited about that,” she said. “We have children knowing their sight words sooner. It’s really been impactful. We also read to them more than twice a day. Up to six times a day.”
The school is almost six weeks ahead of where it typically is in kindergarten, she said.
“I expect over 90 percent of our kids to be late emergent/transitional readers at the end of the year,” she said, adding that means they can pick up a book at their level and sound out the words.
The faculty is still doing tweaks, Pearson said, like making sure poetry is introduced sooner because of rhyming. Some other languages do not have rhyming, she said.
Some teachers weighed in on the new routines.
“They’re doing fantastic,” said first-year teacher Kathryn Herndon. “Almost all of my students have made gains since the beginning of the year.”
She had two levels of difficulty students could choose from. They could either write “bat” or “Can you see a bat?”
“I think it incorporates a lot of different learning strategies so they are getting to learn the way they need,” Herndon said.
“You can already see the growth,” teacher Tonya Showah said. “Dr. Pearson really upped the rigor. We’ve seen them doing things we didn’t see them do until November or December. They are already writing full sentences. They still need assistance from the teacher, but their overall growth has improved tremendously.”
“I think it’s giving our kids of all levels a chance to understand writing,” said teacher Brett Wary. “It’s giving us kind of a jumpstart to writing. To put our thoughts on paper. Instead of just focusing on one letter at a time, we’re focusing on language as a whole.”
Kindergartners at Noel Primary School practice their writing skills. The faculty at the school have developed new routines for teaching reading and writing to kindergartners and are seeing progress earlier than ever before.