Monday, April 25, 2011

(2009) Building the Alphabetic Principle in Young Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Jessica Page Bergeron, M.E.D.; Amy R. Lederberg, Ph.D.; Susan R. Easterbrooks, Ed.D.; Elizabeth Malone Miller, M.S.; and  Carol McDonald Connor. Ph.D. (2009) Volta Review, 109(2-3), 87-119.

Two studies used small groups of young children, ages 3-7.5 for study one and 3-4.5 for study two.  The children, who were deaf or hard of hearing (5 subjects per study), were assigned to two different treatments to learn phoneme-grapheme correspondences. Both single subject design interventions yielded evidence that "children who are DHH and who have some speech perception abilities can learn critical phoneme-grapheme correspondences through explicit auditory skill instruction with language and visual support."

Purpose of the Studies

Investigators wanted to assess the effectiveness of a semantic association strategy for teaching phoneme-grapheme correspondences to children with DHH. Children without hearing difficulties have shown gains when provided meaningful associations between letters and sounds. Picture mnemonics provide links between a letter shape and a word beginning with the letter (Ehri, Deffner, & Wilce, 1984), and a gesture associated with the phoneme (LiPS picture cards; Lindamood & Lindamood, 2005).

The semantic association instructional strategy to teach phoneme-grapheme correspondences used in this study was derived from materials in the Children's Early Intervention (CEl) program (Tade & Vitali, 1994), a curriculum developed exclusively for children with communication disorders. P-g correspondences were taught using stories and pictures that provides visual associations between the phonemes and graphemes.  This approach provided semantic cues to remember the phonemes. The original strategy was expanded in two ways: after the story was read, the children enacted it, then picture (concept) cards provided semantic cues to the phonemes. Concept cards were later used in activities where the children decoded words.

Theoretical Support for this study

Dual Coding Theory (DCT) proposed by Pavio in 1971, applied to literacy (Sadoski & Paivio, 2004) provides an explanation of the relationships among decoding, comprehension, and reader's response (p. 1329). DCT proposes a coding system of logogens (language codes) and imagens (nonverbal codes). All  experiences can be identified with one or both coding systems. Haptic representations referring to kinesthetic experiences also contribute to the mental models people develop to understand experiences.

The authors explain how theory supports model: "The mental model the child develops will be a combination of phoneme, imagen, and grapheme. Some children will take longer than others to link graphemes to
phonemes. Some will quickly grasp the link between grapheme and phoneme and will drop the imagen earlier than others. Still others will need the "glue" for a longer period before associations between graphemes and phonemes become automatic" (p. 91).

This article covers two independent studies. Analysis for the studies was "a multiple-baseline probe design across content (i.e., correspondences)  to determine if a functional relationship existed between the intervention and the acquisition of phoneme-grapheme correspondences for individual children who are DHH" (p. 92)


Study 1. ( PreK-1st grade) All children acquired Phoneme-grapheme correspondence knowledge. Childen's age seemed to affect the rate of learning with the oldest child needing minimal instruction while the 3 yr old needed an additional week.

Study 2.  (PreK only) All children were preschool aged with no prior schooling to influence outcomes; 4 of the 5 didn't even know the target letter names. None knew the correspondences. Average instructional period for first correspondences taught required 8 sessions, however the last two correspondences were mastered in 2 sessions.

Additional findings based on long-term instruction and assessment: "As a component of the larger grant project's assessment battery, assessors tested the children on alphabetic knowledge and decoding at the end of the school year, after a year in the Foundations curriculum. Of those phonemegrapheme correspondences tested, the results of these assessments indicated that students maintained the alphabetic knowledge they gained at the beginning of the year from this 6-week study. By the end of the year, children went from an average of four correspondences to 16 correspondences. More important, students were able to use those correspondences in a functional manner by decoding them in real words. Children from this study were able to decode 60% of words directly taught in the curriculum and 30% of the novel words."


"Alphabetic knowledge provides an early foundation for later literacy success. Research shows that explicit instruction in building early skills that enhance development of phonological awareness, such as phoneme-grapheme correspondences, in the general education population is an essential foundation for decoding written text (Snider, 1995). Research, such as the recent study by Spencer and Tomblin (2008), supports development of these skills in children who are DHH; however. Spencer and Tomblin found that elementary school children who are DHH with cochlear implants develop phonological awareness skills at a delayed rate. The children in the current study demonstrated that, despite their young ages and language delays, they could still acquire phoneme-grapheme correspondences. These results have strong positive implications for a future practice of targeting explicit phoneme-grapheme instruction with prekindergarten children who are DHH in order to prevent future delays in phonological awareness development."

"While traditionally alphabetic knowledge is not taught until kindergarten, even for children with typical hearing, recent research suggests such instruction in prekindergarten can have long-term positive effects on later reading skills, including reading achievement and spelling (Kirk & Gillon, 2007; Korkman & Peltomaa, 1993). The current study suggests that children who are DHH, even those who have delays in language, are able to learn the foundation for the alphabetic principle during prekindergarten. Although the longterm
consequences of early instruction on the alphabetic principle need to be explored, such a finding holds promise for improving literacy skills of children who are DHH."

Defining Phonological Awareness and Its Relationship to Early Reading ~ Stahl, S. & Murray, B (1994)

Journal of Educational Psychology, 86(2), 221-234.

Purpose of the Study

Twofold: Examine the importance of "linguistic complexity and task differences in measuring phonological awareness." Examine the relationship of PA to early reading skills in according to PA tasks.


Early studies (Liberman et al, 1974) children needed to be able to reflect on sounds in words to later map the associated graphemes. Children without this knowledge have difficulty learning to read (Savin, 1972; Stanovich, 1986) Correlational evidence that is both concurrent and predictive (Adams, 1990 review) is extensive (Maclean, et al., 1987; Perfetti et al., 1987).

Adams also examined studies that suggested letter knowledge and PA are the strongest predictors of reading acquisition.  Lomax and McGee (1987) studied children aged 3-6 and noted a developmental sequence from concepts of print (CP), graphic awareness, phoneme awareness, grapheme-phoneme (G-P) correspondence, and word reading. CP factor was assoicated with G-P correspondence. CP measured knowledge of print use, vocabulary of print (word, letter, sentence), and behavior with print (tracking left to right, top to bottom, etc.). PA assessed on 3tasks--deciding if two words were the same or different words, isolating initial consonant, isolating final consonant. Yopp (1988) referrs to isolation tasks as simple phoneme awareness.

Training Studies

Bradley & Bryant (1983) grouped children into a sorting group (Hawthorne control), a sorting with letters (Experimental), and an untreated control. Prereaders in the experimental group were 9 months ahead in reading skills compared to the H group and 12.5 ahead of the Control.  PA and letter training facilitated spelling. PA also had a significant effect on early reading without letter training. Lundberg (1988) found that PA training of kindergarteners without letters led to gainis in PA and significantly effected spelling and reading achievement in 1st and 2nd grade.

Some researchers believe there is reciprocal causation between PA & reading achievement - Ehri & Wilce (1986) determined that children who could read responded differently on phoneme awareness tasks that involved identifying /t/ or /d/ in a PA task. Suggests that orthographic knowledge influenced choices. Levels of PA are likely the basis for reciprocal causation since some tasks can be done without print knowledge while others are advanced, requiring more sophisticated understanding of identities and orthography.


Demographics: 113 K-1 children in public and parochial schools participated. Mixed SES & racial background. Even boys to girls.


  • Tests of phonological awareness (researcher constructed for 4 tasks - blending, segmenting, phoneme isolation, phoneme deletion; 4 levels of word complexity - onset-rime CVC, vowel-coda CVC, cluster onset CCVC, and cluster coda CVCC.)
  • Written language measures 
    • Clay letter recognition
    • Johns informal reading inventory (1991) adequate retell rather than questions for comp measure
    • Environmental print logo reading
    • Spelling measure (Tangel & Blachman, 1992)
  • Memory measure
    • Digit span subtest of the WISC-R (1974) 
  • Procedure
    • Children tested individually (30-40 min) for logos, PA measures, word identification, IRI, & digit span.
    • Children rewarded with a gift
    • Spelling test administered in small groups at another time (0nly 85/113 participated in spelling test)

Phoneme isolation was the easiest task followed by blending, deletion, and segmentation. (All statistically significant differences between each other)

Easiest linguistic level was analyzing onsets and rimes, followed by vowels and codas, then cluster codas and cluster onsets (all statistically significant differenes between measures.)

61% of errors were in manipulating cluster onsets or codas for isolation, segmentation and deletion tasks. Nasal blends (nk, nd, mp) and liquid blends (ld) were easies to break up. 

Many children dropped the final consonant due to Southern dialect influence. 
Both ways of defining PA, by task or level of complexity, yielded a single common factor, however, the notion of levels of complexity accounted for more variance as the common factor.

PA & Reading outcomes were affected by children's prior knowledge of the alphabet and the fact that a number of the participants could not read any words. The distribution was highly skewed. However, it was found that the ability to separate an onset from a rime seemed to aid children with word recognition. Also, the ability to recognize words might aid children's ability to analyze rimes into vowel and coda, while the ability to break up a rime and word recognition were correlated as statistically significant.

Task differences - only one of the tasks had a similar relationship with reading/ Phoneme isolation, the easiest task, distinguished children who could rad from children who could not. Children could not break up blends but recognized them as single units. 

PA and spelling - there were strong correlations between PA and spelling onset-rime awareness and spelling, e.g., (p<.01). Findings suggested that a spelling task is an easier measure of PA than oral PA measures.

Possible explanation: invented spelling for children who know letter names, minimizes the need to memorize, compared with oral PA tasks. Children can spell the remainder of a word when deleting an onset, for instance.


The notion of levels of linguistic complexity rather than difficulty of task, seems to better describe phonological awareness. The ability to manipulate onsets and rimes in syllables relates strongly to reading with adequate letter recognition skills. Isolating a phoneme from the beginning or end of a word, the easiest PA task, seems crucial to reading concluded from the evidence that nearly all the children who could not complete this task did not achieve preprimer instructional level on the IRI. 

Knowledge of letter names help children manipulate onsets and rimes, enabling word recognition. Basic word recognition possibly aids higher levels of PA. Cite's similar results in Barron, 1991. Adams suggested children may learn letter names from alphabet books or the singing ABCs, then learn to match letters with sounds. Consonants contain the phonemes associated with them with some exceptions, so letter names may provide clues in identifying their sound value. Separating an onset from a rime, however, requires more than these two skills.

Phonetic cue reading is considered a stage in reading development when the initial or final consonant provided information to help identify a word. Stahl and Murray suggest that this is a "precursor to developing a rudimentary sight vocabulary." The ability to read well is always evident among children who can decode pseudowords.

Learning about phonemes introduces a child to a new way of thinking about language, providing insight into the alphabetic principle.


The range of reading abilities in this sample may be representative of the population but it makes it difficult to confirm outcomes as valid since some had rather sophisticated knowledge of written language while others barely knew their letters and no correspondences. There was no treatment, just all examination of correlations, so there cannot be any conclusions about causal relations. It does suggest further study into looking at tasks or linguistic complexity as we refine the construct of PA.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Constructivism in Reading Education ~Keith Stanovich (1994)

Tenets of Constructivism: Self-discovery is the most efficacious way of learning; learning is natural (like walking and talking); cognitive components cannot be extricated from the whole - the job of the learner is to discover these if real learning is to occur.

Differentiating Levels of Processing: Is Reading Like Reasoning?

E.L Thorndike and R.L. Thorndike (1917, 1974) posited that reading was best thought of as reasoning. Stanovich & Cunningham (1991), however, explain that word recognition is a different cognitive process than comprehension of text; these are two very different processing levels.  Word recognition follow an exogenous Constructivism - external instruction resulting in learning about subprocesses, then applying the knowledge to word recognition; while reading comprehension is better explained by dialectical/endogenous Constructivism - constructing meaning in a social context, based on individual prior knowledge and understanding of language (schema theory).

The comprehension process is similar to reasoning; but word identification requires the knowledge of discrete skills, and how they function together (i.e., phoneme awareness, letter knowledge, phoneme-grapheme correspondences, blending, adequate knowledge of language, and the metacognitive ability to connect the blended sounds to words in the reader's lexicon.)

"Word recognition in the fluent adult reader is the part of reading that is not like reasoning or problem solving. It does not recruit information from general knowledge bases and is not directed by central processes of expectation generation." p. 262

Central Processes: The Part of Reading That is Like Reasoning

A firmly established principle: readers must make use of background knowledge in sentence processing. Studies have provided evidence that "variations in topic knowledge modify the quantity and quality of information recalled from text" p 263 (Lipson, 1983; Taylor, 1985) Components of comprehension training for at risk & LD children include: activating prior knowledge and expectations (Pearson & Fielding, 1991) The learner is viewed as an active information processor (Harris & Pressley, 1991; Pearson & Fielding, 1991; Pressley & Van Meter, 1993). The reader requires some knowledge of cognitive resources in selecting and interpreting a text: how textual features like structure, clarity and difficulty influence memory and comprehension are metacognitive abilities. Declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge, and conditional knowledge work together as the reader makes strategy decisions. This falls into the realm of active, engaged thinking. Increasing a reader's knowledge of strategies and when to use them improves comprehension (p 263 for studies cited). Reading theory is bifurcated: background knowledge permeates the "central processes of text inferencing, comprehension monitoring, and global interpretation" (p. 264) direct and explicit instruction allows the development of word recognition strategies.  Reading is thus better described as constrained reasoning, that is, reading as reasoning can only occur when automatic word recognition predominates.

Different Instructional Philosophies for Different Contexts

Because the processes are so different, instructional programs must align with theoretical differences based on distinct cognitive processes.

'Training programs for at-risk and LD children in these different subdomains of reading differ in the degree of explicitness in the instructional procedures and in the degree of analytic versus holistic experience provided. Differences follow from assumptions about the naturalness of learning. Pressley (1993) noted "self-discovery and lack of explicitness" as defining features of most constructivist approaches: "Educators with constructivist orientations contend that various forms of knowledge, including knowledge of strategic procedures are applied more generally if constructed by learners than if explicitly taught to them (p. 264)." The tenets of endogenous constructivism contradict empirical evidence on how early word recognition skill is acquired and on efficacious treatments for at-risk/LD children. Strategies for word recognition apply to non-disable children as well.

"There is no known teaching method that has resulted in good reading comprehension without simultaneously leading to the development of at least adequate word recognition ability. Furthermore, an overwhelming amount of evidence indicates that the primary processing problem that characterizes at-risk children and children with LD is a phonological processing difficulty that impedes word learning and word recognition (Adams & Bruck, 1993; Gough & Tunmer, 1986; Perfetti, 1985; Share. 1994; Siegel, 1993; Vellutino & Scanlon, 1987) (p. 265).

Is Reading Natural?

Goodman makes the claim that it is natural and that it can be learned through "authentic literacy events" defined by a need. He charged that educators made it hard by "trying to make it easy" (Goodman, 1986).

Evidence that it is not natural: all communities have developed spoken language but only a minority have a written form. Speech is about as old as the human race but written language wasn't discovered until 3 or 4 thousand years ago. Most children learn to speak in normal environments but they require explicit instruction in acquiring reading and writing, with many not "getting it" after intensive efforts from teachers and parents. Liberman & Liberman (1990) explain that all oral language uses a universal strategy in constructing utterances but written language takes many forms: alphabetic, logographic, morphologic. Oral and written language are dramatically dissimilar with elaborate code learning for the latter. Research continues to conclude that reading is not a natural human activity in the same way that speech is. It requires analytic processing and not mere pair associations. Pre-literate children could not learn to discriminate Fat from Bat or Fun from Bun with greater than chance accuracy (Byrne, 1992). Environmental print, when decontextualized, is not recognized by a preliterate child (Masonheimer, Drum, and Ehri, 1984). Children are attentive to unrelated clues if given the task of learning whole words on flash cards. They will focus on a thumb print or other salient feature rather than the letter features or shapes of the word (Gough, 1993; Gough & Juel, 1991). Seymour & Elder (1986) studied children new in school and their acquisition of sight vocabulary learned via whole word methods and no phonics instruction. The children could not recognize unfamiliar words that were not taught after two terms, unlike children receiving letter-sound decoding skills instruction.

Fractionating Language Processes Helps

"Successful reading acquisition requires the development of an analytic processing stance toward words that is not natural"

A deficit in segmental language skills (PA or phonological sensitivity - PS) precedes difficulties with phonological coding (Ball, 1993; Brandley & Bryant, 1985; Bruck, 1992; Stanovich, 1982, 1992; Vellutino & Scanlon, 1987; Wagner & Torgesen, 1987; Wagner, Torgesen, et al., 1993).  A minimal level of phonological sensitivity seems to be a prerequisite to fluent reading. Low levels of PS inhibit learning the alphabetic principle underlying automatic word recognition (Tunmer & Hoover, 1992; Tunmer &  Nesdale, 1985).

Justification for my study:

"Instructional interventions for preschool children at risk for learning difficulties that involve the conscious and explicit teaching of sound segmentation have been found to lead to faster rates of reading and spelling acquisition. Explicit, analytic teaching of spelling-sound correspondences has been found to be particularly efficacious for at-risk chldren and children with reading disabilities" (p. 268 ~ see article for lengthy empirical studies cited for these two statements).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

(2000) Effects of Preschool Phoneme Identity Training After Six Years: Outcome Level Distinguished from Rate of Response

Byrne, B., Fielding-Barnsley, R, and Ashley, L. (2000).  Journal of Educational Psychology, 92 (4), 659-667

After 6 years, children trainined in phoneme identity (preschool) outperformed untrainined controls on irregular word reading; a composite list of pseudowords, regular words,and irregular words, and on another nonword test. Those who were poor readers in gr 5 were slow in making progress in phonemic awareness in preschool. The rate of achieving PA in preschool accounted for variance in school literacy progress as well as the level of PA achieved. PA training had modest but detectable effects on later reading skill.

"It is awareness of the phonemic constituents of words that underpins an understanding of the nature of alphabetic writing because alphabetic letters represent these constituents" (p. 659).

Learning to read alphabetically does not necessarily develop PA or guarantee that rules relating print to speech will be applied to new words.

Evaluation Study of Original experimental materials

64 preschoolers were trained with the "Sound Foundations" program used in 1991, for 1/2 hr per week for 12 weeks. Training = learning to classify items in color picture posters, on worksheets, and with games - e.g., search the s poster for things that begin with /s/.  Small groups were employed for intensive instruction and monitoring. The control group (62) did not receive instruction in phoneme identity, They learned to classify items semantically (color, shape, animacy, edibility). Random assignement to groups with constraints: equal numbers of children from each preschool, equivalent PPV scores, & equivalent pretests on PA. Same teacher conducted experimental and control procedures. Experimental group had greater gains in PA including untaught phonemes and they outperformed on a decoding test. 1 yr later, (gr K), experimental group were ahead of controls on pseudoword decoding but not real word identification or spelling. Concluded that the training taught phoneme sharing among words and supported the development of  decoding skills (660).

In the 1st and 2nd grades, the experimental group outperformed controls on pseudoword decoding but not on real words or spelling. However, the ex group outperformed contols on reading infrequent but regular words, giving validity to their superior decoding skills and their reading comprehension was superior in grade 2 while there was no variance in listening comprehension scores - indicating equal ability. Superior word identification was thought to provide the edge in reading comprehension.

In the thrid grade, only pseudoword reading was different (experimental suuperior). No significant differences in word id, reading or listening comp and a "Title Recognition Test" (from Cunningham & Stanovich, 1990).

Vaccination model
Shanahan & Barr proposed a model where a targeted treatment guarantees freedom from future reading problems. The vaccination effect seemed a good explanation for this treatment and was consistent with Stanovich's phonological core model of reading disability (1988).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Specific reading disability (dyslexia): What have we learned in the past four decades? (2004)

"Frank R. Vellutino, Jack M. Fletcher, Margaret J. Snowling, and Donna M. Scanlon

Abstract quote: "in most cases [of deficiencies in reading-related cognitive abilities], phonological skills deficiencies associated with phonological coding deficits are the probable causes of the disorder rather than visual, semantic, or syntactic deficits, although reading difficulties in some children may be associated with general language deficits. . . . general learning abilities (e.g., attention, association learning, cross-modal transfer) and low-level sensory deficits have weak validity as causal factors in specific reading disability (supported by research evaluating the biological foundations of dyslexia). Many poor readers are impaired because of inadequate instruction or other experiential factors. Implications: focus on the need for enhanced instruction."

Purposes of the review: 
Examines the literature for causal relationships in dyslexia; presents research evidence for distinguishing between biological/cognitive deficits and experiential/instructional deficits as possible causes.

Cognitive Model of knowledge, skills, and abilities assumed to underlie reading ability

Permanent Memory
Background knowledge: cultural, environmental, experiential

Linguistic Coding Processes            Lexical Knowledge              Sublexical Knowledge                   Visual Coding Processes
Phonological                                       Spoken words                      Phonological Awareness                  and knowledge
Semantic                                               Printed words                      Orthographic Awareness
Morphological                                                                                   Alphabetic Knowledge
Syntactic                                                                                            Orthographic conventions

Written Text                                       Word Identification Language Comprehension       
                                                            Reading Comprehension

Knowledge of Print                          Working Memory Processes                          Metalinguistic Processes
Concepts and Conventions                                                                                       and knowledge
                                                               Permanent Memory

Visual coding process: sensory and higher level visualization skills that link visual stimuli with symbols
Linguistic coding: processes that facilitate language development and its use for coding, memory storage, and retrieval. Includes:

  • phonological coding (speech codes), 
  • semantic and morphological coding (word and word part meanings), 
  • syntactic coding (word order rules - organizing ideas into coherent sentences), 
  • pragmatic coding (storing information about conventions of language use for communication, including pitch, volume, intensity, punctuation in written language)
  • phonological awareness: understanding that speech sounds and combinations of them create
Linguistic and visual coding processes help establish associations between spoken and written words and aid in the acquisition of sight words, i.e., words identified automatically as meaningful lexical units. This association is dependent upon knowledge of print concepts and print conventions - left to right, letters represent phonemes comprising oral language. An understanding of the alphabetic principle facilitates sight word learning, because words contain so many visually similar features. Phonological decoding reduces the load on visual memory, providing letter-sound information as the child constructs access to lexical knowledge.
This necessitates building sublexical knowledge, specifically phonological awareness and orthographic knowledge (reciprocally related), as well as skills in metalinguistic analysis. (p.5)

Causes of reading disability

Diagnosis of dyslexia is determined by inadequate facility in printed word identification and related skills of spelling and decoding. The primary deficity is in learning to decode print (Gough & Tumer, 1986; Perfetti, 1985; Snowling 2000; Stanovich, 1991; velutino, Scanlon, & Chen, 1995; Vellutino, et al., 1996). Reading comprehension problems are also identified by inadequate word identification skills due to decoding deficits.

Concepts of print

"Limitations in such knowledge are probably not basic causes of specific reading disability in the biological sense, and are, in most cases, caused by experiential and instructional deficits rather than by biologically based cognitive deficits" (p. 7).

Regression studies abound contributing to a causal link between reading ability, PA deficits and phonological decoding.

Cognitive Deficit theories of dyslexia (discredited)

The following hypotheses have been discredited by empirical studies
Specific learning disabilities are linked to deficiencies in visual, linguistic and low level sensory functions, and general learning abilities involved in all learning enterprises and not just learning to read.
SLD in reading attributed to deficiencies in selective attention, associative learning, cross-modal transfer, serial-order processing, pattern analysis and rule learning.
Reviews of this literature can be found in: Vellutino, 1979, 1989;' Vellutino & Scanlon, 1982; Katz, Shankweiler, & Lieberman, 1981; Katz, Healy, and Shankweiler, 1983). Where group differences were noted in studies, most could be attributed to a lack of control in verbal coding and working memory processes affected by verbal coding deficits. When these controls were implemented, group differences between normal readers and poor readers were eliminated for general learning abilities.

Cross modal transfer invalidated by Vellutino and associates in 1979, 1982 and 1987 and the theory was invalidated numerous times (Givson, 1969; Bryant, 1974; Meltzoff & Kuhn, 1994;  )

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Reading Panel Report (2000)

NRP Report ~ Chapter 2 ~ Alphabetics 
Part I. Phonemic Awareness Instruction

Summary of the Review of Literature and Meta-analysis of data from experimental and quasi-experimental designs

Definition: "PA is the ability to focus on and manipulate phonemes in spoken words." p. 2-1

Common Tasks used to Assess PA:

  1. Phoneme isolation recognizes individual phonemes in words, e.g., "What is the first sound in man?" (/m/)
  2. Phoneme identity requires recognition of a common sound in different words, e.g., "What might be the same sound you hear in these words: bear, box, bug?" (/b/)
  3. Phoneme categorization requires identifying a word in a sequence of three or four words without a similar sound, e.g., "Which one of these words doesn't belong with the others, bag, bike, rat?"  (rat)
  4. Phoneme blending requires listenting to a sequence of separated sounds and combing them to form a word, e.g., "What word do you think this is /k/ /a/ /t/?" (cat)
  5. Phoneme segmentation requires breaking a word into sounds through pronouncing them, moving a marker for each sound, or tapping for each sound, e.g., "How many phonemes do you hear in pot?" (/p//o//t/ - 3)
  6. Phoneme deletion recognizes a new word when one phoneme is removed, e.g., "What is stop without the /s/?" (top)
Results of phonemic awareness instruction compared to other types of instruction aimed at developing phonemic awareness. 
  • PA outcomes large effect size: 0.86
  • on reading moderate effect: 0.53
  • on spelling 0.59
  • Effects significant on follow up tests, on measures of the ability to read words and pseudowords, and on reading comprehension. Significant on standardized tests and experimenter tests. 
  • "Teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words was highly effective across all literacy domains and outcomes." (p. 2-3)

Moderator findings:
Effects on learning PA
  • Absence of halo and Hawthorne effects
  • Training didn't generalize to math performance.
  • PA acquired under all conditions but some had greater effects, e.g., focused and explicit instruction on one or two skills than when taught three or more. 
  • Using letters in manipulations helped normal and at-risk children
  • Small group instruction had greater effect than individual and whole class instruction
  • 5 to 18 hrs of instruction produced larger effect sizes than shorter or longer treatments.
  • Greater effects for beginning at risk children (PreK-K) than older disabled readers and even first grade.
  • SES exerted no impact on effect size
Effects on reading
  • Effects on reading greater for experimenter tests than standardized (not sensitive to PA skills)
  • Blending and segmenting more effective than multiple skill instruction.
  • Largest effects with at-risk children over disabled and normally developing.
  • Small group over individual and classroom
  • preschoolers much larger effect on reading than students in other grade levels.
  • English learners had larger effects than other languages.
  • mid to high SES - higher effects than low SES
Effects on spelling
  • Minimal effects on spelling (not significant from 0)
  • Teaching manipulations with letters had more impact on spelling than no letters
  • Kindergarten made greater gains from PA training in spelling than 1st graders did
  • Mid to high SES had larger effects on spelling than low SES
  • English > than other languages
Design Analysis
  • Rigorous design yielded significant effects
  • Random assignemt effect sizes on reading moderate to large
  • Trainer fidelity yielded moderate effects.
  • Treated and untreated controls did not produce larger effect sizes (indicating no Hawthorne effect)
  • Large studies showed significant effects (moderate in size)
  • Small groups showed greatest effects
  • PA can be taught and it is effective under a variety of teaching conditions with a variety of learners.
  • PA instruction helps children learn to read words and pseudowords.
  • PA training boosted reading comprehension (indirect influence)
  • PA instruction helped all types of children improve in reading, from normally developing, at risk, and disabled readers (and children in grades 2-6), kindergarten, and 1st, across SES levels, and English learners
  • It assists children in learning to spell, especially K and 1st grade but not for disabled readers
  • Manipulating with letters is more effective
Implications for Reading Instruction
  • Acquiring PA is a means to reading acquisition, not an end in itself, which is why letters should be included.
  • Children differ in PA and some need more instruction. Benefits greatest to non-readers. Readers may not need any PA instruction
  • PA training isn't a complete reading program but it's an important component. Doesn't guarantee children will learn to read and write but strongly correlated with reading success.
  • Motivation of the student and teacher has not been addressed in research. Techniques, however, are more likely to develop PA if they are relevant and exciting, in order to engage children's attention and interest.
  • NRP cannot infer that every teacher and student experienced success in acquiring PA or transferring it to reading and writing as indicated by variation within and across individual studies. 
  • Training lasting less than 20 hours was most effective.
Directions for Further Research
  • Need research identifying what teachers need to know and do to teach PA effectively and integrate it with other elements of beginning reading instruction.
  • Need to study whether small groups are the most effective way to teach PA and if so, processes and conditions that make the approach effective.
  • Need research to evaluate motivational properties of PA training and ways of enhancing motivation and interest.
  • Need research to determine how PA can be taught with computers (effectively) with transfer to spelling and reading.

Report Details 

Design Features

  • Pretesting should be given with pretest compared to posttest to evaluate results.
  • Group receiving PA training should be compared to a control group, equivalent in all respects except for no PA instruction. Use of an alternative-treatment control is preferable to no-treatment to rule out the Hawthorne effect.
  • Random Assignment should be used with groups equal in variance
  • Posttests follow training, assess reading and spelling, show that PA training transfers to improve these skills.
  • PA training effects are supported by rigorous experimental design
Other Features of Studies

  • Correlational studies found that children who are or will become disabled readers have poor PA, This may underly and explain their acquisition of reading skills (Bradley & Bryant, 83; bruck, 92; Fawcett & Nicholson, 95) 
  • Being at risk is defined as having low PA or low reading in a large percentage of cases.
  • Training delivery varied. Either researchers or specially trained assistants taught children to manipulate phonemes. Some had classroom teachers as trainers. Few used computers. If teaching PA requires special training, it can't be imposed on classroom teachers. 
  • Effects of PA training examined for teachers, computers, and researchers.
  • one-on-one tutoring was effective but so was small group (Bus and van Ijzendoorn, 1999)

Technical Report on Early Childhood Literacy Research (2009)

WestEd. (2009). Technical Report: Recommendations for Future Early Childhood Literacy Research. National Institute for Literacy: Early Childhood Literacy. Washington, D.C.

Identified needs: 

Target children from birth to 3 yrs with more measures of early literacy to determine if there's a broader impact of early childhood intervention.

Increase experience with early writing and enhance language development.

Focus on including parents in interventions as well as in the classroom, to increase the effect on language development.

Research studies of younger children should examine complex interventions aimed at improving children's functioning with multiple measures, e.g., rapid naming, print awareness, name writing, language development beyond vocabulary.

Prioritize Research (what should be done first)

  • Identify prerequisites to reading and adequate levels of performance. What can be done to increase the number of preschoolers attaining the determined level of competence?
  • Study children's writing
  • More studies on parent involvement and onset of children's early language and literacy development.
  • We don't know about the impact of the family.

Research Design Issues
Research often lacks:

  • comparison groups with random assignment
  • info on reliability and validity of researcher developed measures
  • adequate sample sizes
  • details for replication and analysis
  • appropriate statistical analysis

Research Needs

  • A wider range of outcome measures to increase the quality of the design
  • Studies should address the scalability of the intervention within the context of actual classrooms implemented by preschool teachers.
  • Don't resist school settings
  • Develop a deep understanding of how to get good implementation in classrooms
  • Background characteristics to report demographics including language, developmental delays, SES, household make-up, child behavior
  • Evidence of equal variance between groups indicating all from the same population. 

Domains of early literacy skills and instructional practices to address in research:

  • alphabet knowledge and fluency at naming letters
  • phonological awareness
  • rapid naming of pictures/objects
  • name writing and other writing
  • phonological memory (ability to remember and repeat spoken information)

Interactive Reading Justice, et al. (2008)

Interactive Reading

Chapter 11 Strategic and Intentional shared Storybook reading Achieving Excellence in Preschool Literacy Instruction Justice, Laura M. and Vukelich, Carol (2008) New York: Guilford Press (198-218)

Print Salient books are storybooks in which print is a notable design characteristic. They integrate print into illustrations with labels, environmental print, and visible speech sounds (Smolkin, Conlon, & Yaden, 1988)
Print references comprise any verbal or nonverbal reference to print that adults make when they share books.

Adult references to print typically are in these areas: concepts of print, letters, words, print-to-speech connections.

Example from a Head Start classroom:
T: Today we’ll read one of my favorite books, There’s a dragon at my school. Here is where it says the title (runs finger along the title)
C: That’s the title?
T: Yes, the title is the name of the book. This one has a lot of words in it. One, two, three, four, five, six! They are written with red letters
C: S T A etc.
T: That’s a lot of letters. I hear someone say S (points to s)) and I heard T (points to T). You have sharp eyes today. Let’s think about what this book might be about. It’s called there’s a Dragon iat my school. I think it might be about a mouse in a house
C: No it’s about a dragon at school.

Print salient storybooks:
Chicka chicka boom boom (Martin Jr. and Archambault, 1989)
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that type (Cronin, 2000)
Growing vegetable soup (Ehlert 1987)
My little brother Debi Gliori, 1992)
Silver seeds (Paolilli and Brewer 2001)
The crunching munching caterpillar
The gigantic turnip (Tolstoy & Sharkey, 1998)
The runaway orange (F Brooks 1999)
There’s a dragon at my school (Tyler & Hawthorn, 96)

Phonologically salient books
There’s a dragon at my school and he’s broken every rule
Mrs PiggleWiggle; Tessa the teacher; Gerda the goose; Tooth Trouble; Olive the other reindeer; ChickaChicka boom boom
Make phonological features an explicit aspect of the reading session.
Sample teacher talk:
T: This book is called Tooth Trouble. That’s interesting. Each word in the title starts with /t/ Listen for it. I’ll read the title again TTTTooth TTTTrouble. It looks like the walrus has a toothache.
When adults reference the phonological features of language they bring attention to words, syllables, onsets, and rimes.

“Though many early childhood curricula organize phonological awareness instruction to follow a developmental sequence, doing so does not appear to be necessary given that preschool-age children show sensitivities to all of these aspects of phonology, indicating that phonological awareness development does not follow a strict linear developmental continuum (Anthony, Lonigan, Driscoll, Phillips, Burgess, 2003)

Developing print knowledge and phoneme awareness can be integrated into storybook reading.
Justice & Ezell, 2004

Phonological Awareness includes words, syllables, intrasyllable units of onset and rime, and phonemes. Print knowledge, alphabet and PA represent important elements of emergent literacy development that pave the way for unlocking the alphabetic principle.

Point to print,
Track print
Comment on print,
Ask questions about print to make it an object of salience
References to print occur at very low rates if at all (Ezell & Justice, 2000; Phillips & McNaughton, 1990; van Kleeck, GILLAM, Hamilton, & McGrath, 1997)
Including an expliit focus on print in reading interactions with children can significantly accelerate their print knowledge (Justice & Ezell, 2002)

Types of questions to build comprehension

Discussion of vocabulary and story events by linking to something the child knows
Why and how questions stimulate inferential thinking
Why do you think they wanted to do that?
How do you think baby bear feels about that?
Why did Goldilocks go into the house?