by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady
I was browsing through some research on reading and came across this article about instructional practices concerning alphabet letters and sounds. Click here for a pdf of this article: Enhancing alphabet knowledge instruction: Research implications and practical strategies for early childhood educators.
This article discusses the concept of letter-0f-the-week instruction vs. another researched method. I know many KG teachers who implement the letter-of-the-week method with great success. During most of my teaching career, I know this was a pretty common method – even my own children learned this way. However, as research became more prevalent and relied upon to make instructional decisions, this method of teaching one letter a week came under fire. I kept hearing this, but never read any research which supported it, refuted it (or advised what to do instead) until seeing this article. So please have an open mind KG and 1st grade teachers. I like this quote by Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Here is a summary of the article:
- The letter-of-the week method is largely based on tradition rather than research.
- With a letter per week, it takes 26 weeks of school (often until March) to complete the cycle, which disadvantages at-risk students.
- Many students don’t need a whole week to learn a letter.
- With 26 weeks for one complete instructional cycle of the alphabet, this only leaves 10 weeks to review the letters, sounds, and symbols.
The research suggested the following 6 cycles of alphabet learning (meaning each cycle is completed in 26-30 days) and repeated with a different focus for up to 5 more times throughout the year. With each cycle, the order and reason in which letters are presented is varied. So students experience 6 different opportunities (instead of one) to focus on unique features of the letters to learn the letter name, sound, how to write it, and locate it in text.
1st 26 days: By frequency of initial letters in students’ names. Determine the letters used most often in your students’ names and start with those first. Example: You have several students whose name begins with M, L, and K. So begin with those letters with your daily instruction. This is very motivating for students and helps with name recognition. Continue reading