ASSESSMENT

Kindergarten

Collecting baseline data at the beginning of kindergarten is an essential effort that assists in determining the child’s current knowledge and skills, calibrates instruction, and allows for effective differentiation. By conducting IMSE’s Beginning Reading Skills Assessment, educators will be able to identify letters and sounds that the child already knows, while gaining an understanding of the child’s alphabet awareness and print awareness. The Phonological Awareness Skills Test (PAST) will shed light on the child’s understanding of the alphabetic principle and ability to hear and manipulate oral sound patterns. This assessment should be conducted three times per year to measure outcomes.

First Grade

Children entering first grade should complete IMSE’s Level 1 Assessment to reveal their ability to read and spell phonetic, irregular, and pseudowords. The PAST should also be administered to assess the child’s phonological awareness skills. We want to ensure that first graders have a firm grasp of the basics before progressing on to more complex concepts.

Second Grade

Assessment continues to drive instruction and assist to identify areas where the child will benefit from intensive focus and/or review. New children should be assessed at Level 1.

PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS

Kindergarten

Phonological awareness skills are a strong predictor of later reading and spelling success and should be systematically taught during the kindergarten year as a preventative measure. Educators and parents may engage in short activities (5-10 minutes) several times per day to promote skill development in this critical area. Kindergarten skills to target include:

A full assessment and fun, multisensory activities can be found in Interventions for All: Phonological Awareness by Yvette Zgonc.

First Grade

By targeting skills in phonological awareness through quick, systematic activities that are 5 minutes in length, we can ensure continuous development of these essential skills. Skills targeted in first grade include:

Quick drills may be found in Equipped for Reading Success by David Kilpatrick

Second Grade

Children should be assessed through second grade to determine which skills have been mastered. Phonemic awareness skills targeted with 2-4 minute drills in this grade should include:

Quick drills may be found in Equipped for Reading Success by David Kilpatrick.

PHONICS

Kindergarten

The data supports that kindergarten children are ready for phonics instruction and that the effects of systematic, early instruction in phonics are long-lasting. Early, foundational phonics skill development will ensure that children are prepared for more complex reading and spelling in the later grades. By the end of kindergarten, children are equipped to read and spell multisyllabic words within sentences and more expansive text.

Learning the phonemes and rules: Multisensory Experience

Children should be exposed to a new phoneme each week. The introductory lesson is designed to ignite all sensory learning pathways to help the child to develop a deep connection with the phoneme concept as it is applied to alliteration, letter formation, common objects, decodable readers, and literature. Educators will provide direct instruction in basic concepts (most common sounds of the alphabet, common digraphs, and long vowels) using a systematic, sequential, direct instruction routine.

Learning to read and spell irregular words: Red Word Instruction 

Children follow a systematic, sequential progression of motor movements to build their sight recognition for words that contain one or more irregular features. Once Red Words are taught, they are reviewed throughout the week by armtapping and through repeated spelling practice. Children also apply this knowledge to print by reading decodable readers. 

Spelling words and sentences: Application of the New Phoneme through Practice Dictation

Following the multisensory experience, children will engage in guided practice to apply the new phoneme or rule to the spelling of words and sentences. Spelling strategies like pounding syllables, fingertapping sounds, and armtapping Red Words enhance the child’s ability to manipulate the parts of the whole. Children will also gain a solid understanding of how to self-edit their writing by checking for capitalization, understanding, punctuation, and spelling (CUPS). 

Review and practice: Three-part Drill and Vowel Intensive

Once the child has learned the first few letters in a sequence, the Three-Part Drill can be routinely implemented to enhance the child’s knowledge of the sound-symbol relationships. This 10 to 15-minute drill addresses three areas of multisensory learning including the visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic to build phoneme-grapheme identification, spelling, and blending fluency skills. The vowel intensive follows this drill and promotes mastery of short vowel sounds.

First Grade

In first grade, children should have repeated opportunities to apply their decoding skills through exposure to decodable readers. This will reinforce their phoneme-grapheme knowledge and allow for direct application of learned phonemes, rules, and decoding strategies. 

Learning the phonemes and rules: Multisensory Experience

Children will add new concepts to their foundational knowledge to include beginning and ending blends, vowel units, some common affixes such as suffix -ed, and Magic E. 

Spelling words and sentences: Application of the New Phoneme through Practice Dictation

Children should gain a solid understanding of the parts of the whole and recognize that their strategies allow them to break a multisyllabic word into syllables and further isolate the phonemes. Dictation practice will include multisyllabic words with suffixes and more complex sentence structures. 

Review and practice: Three-part Drill and Vowel Intensive

The visual part of the Three-Part Drill reminds the child that a phoneme may be represented by 1-4 graphemes. When presented with the graphemes, children are able to identify the correct phonemes with increased accuracy. In the auditory drill, sound to spelling relationships are enhanced, as children can represent the multiple spellings of various sounds. Blending automaticity is targeted through rapid repetition and practice with the blending board, allowing for children to apply their linguistic vocabulary to identify rules, syllable types, placement of spellings, and the role of basic suffixes.

Syllabication

Once closed and open syllables have been taught, children are taught a progression of syllable patterns and types to expedite the decoding process. Weekly practice in syllabication will enhance the child’s ability to break larger words into manageable parts to improve reading. 

Second Grade

Children will add new concepts to their foundational knowledge to include vowel teams, diphthongs, Bossy-r, consonant-le endings, and new spelling rules. 

Learning the phonemes and rules: Multisensory Experience

Children are now learning more advanced spelling rules and patterns to reinforce word analysis. They may benefit from creating a specific poster or interactive notebook to house spelling rules and patterns that have been explicitly taught. Time for review and practice of the multiple spellings for various sounds will be beneficial to support the orthographic lexicon (basic, mistake, waist, way, freight) and promote spelling success. Extension activities will serve an important role to create opportunities for cumulative review of previously taught concepts and application of the new concept.

Review and practice: Three-part Drill and Vowel Intensive

Children are now expected to identify a large number of phonemes and representing graphemes, apply them to spelling, and manipulate them during rapid blending drills. Conducting the Three-Part Drill 2-3 times per week maintains fluency in decoding.

Syllabication

Using known strategies, children can easily divide large words into syllable patterns, identify all syllable types, and recognize prefixes and suffixes to read and establish word meaning.

FLUENCY

Kindergarten

Children should engage in daily, repetitive fluency practice to build automaticity for letter and sound identification and to practice blending. This can be achieved through a combination of daily exposure to rapid word charts, nonsense word reading, and reading of decodable text that aligns with the target phoneme and Red Words.

First Grade

Fluency practice will focus on building the child’s accuracy to discriminate between closed and open syllables in single and multisyllabic words. The use of daily oral reading fluency passages will allow for curriculum-based measurement (CBM) to assess the student’s progress with reading in grade-level text. Decodable reading practice should allow for repeated exposure to previously learned and new concepts to boost orthographic mapping skills.

Second Grade 

Providing daily opportunities to read is key. Continuing to provide controlled text will promote orthographic mapping for new concepts and high utility words. To further extend fluency, children will benefit from modeling to enhance their prosody, intonation, and pacing while reading. Tracking while reading, paying careful attention to punctuation, and engaging in activities like Reader’s Theater can improve expression. 

VOCABULARY AND COMPREHENSION

Kindergarten

Children should be taught to ask for clarification when they encounter unfamiliar words. Establishing the meaning of words can help children to generate a visual image or “mind movie” while they are listening to stories, which will greatly enhance comprehension. Educators can further enhance strategies to promote comprehension by modeling metacognition (thinking about thinking) in the form of making predictions, asking for clarification, posing questions of wonder, and summarizing what has been read or heard. Kindergarteners should be exposed to a variety of literature that will promote vocabulary development, background knowledge, verbal reasoning, and mastery of the language arts benchmarks for this grade.

First Grade

Educators will want to expose children to advanced vocabulary throughout the day via select language in the delivery of instructions, literary read-alouds, and class discussions. Asking children to “assemble” for storytime, rather than “come to the carpet” models the use of new vocabulary in context. Comprehension strategies can continue to be taught using text that is read to children, as well as decodable text that they can read themselves. Educators can activate strategies before, during, and after reading by developing background knowledge, focusing on language structured (syntax and semantics), engaging verbal reasoning skills to infer meaning, and calling attention to the author’s use of words and punctuation to establish meaning. Graphic organizers may be used to review essential concepts (compare/contrast, summarize, sequencing events, character development) and organize information. 

Second Grade

Children should be provided with multiple exposures to critical vocabulary that is broad and diverse in various genres across fiction and non-fiction text. Educators should continue to select text that lends well to the development of both reading comprehension and language comprehension. Engaging in morphology work will build upon the child’s current understanding that affixes alter the meaning of the base word and allow for them to decode word parts that hold meaning. Morphological study leads to a deeper understanding of more challenging spellings and enhanced vocabulary.