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Middle School Literacy
Components of Reading
Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words. It is not phonics. Phonemic awareness is auditory and does not involve words in print. Phonemic awareness is the knowledge that words are made up of individual sounds (phonemes). It is the foundation of language and reading development. Most children have developed phonemic awareness by the time they are ready to begin to read. This is usually by the time they enter first grade. Students need to be able to blend and segment sounds before letters are introduced. Otitis Media (middle ear infections) can prevent normal development of phonemic awareness.
Decoding (Phonological Skills):
Students who have difficulty sounding out words (decoding) or spelling (encoding) lack phonological skills and require intensive, explicit instruction in phonics. Phonics refers to the knowledge that phonemes (sounds) are represented by letters (graphemes). Struggling readers at Ellis Middle School who require phonological instruction are offered the Wilson Reading System which is an Orton-Gillingham phonics program.
The rate and accuracy of a student's reading is referred to as fluency. The goal of fluency is not to make the student a "fast" reader, but to help him/her become an automatic reader. The more a student struggles to decode individual words, the slower his/her fluency rate. A student who can recognize words automatically reads at a quicker pace and comprehends more because his/her working memory is engaged in comprehension rather than decoding. Struggling readers at Ellis are assessed and monitored for fluency.
If a student lacks a rich vocabulary he/she will have difficulty comprehending written text. Even a student who is proficient in decoding and is a fluent reader may lack comprehension due to a poor vocabulary.
Being able to understand what is being read is the ultimate goal of reading. If a student is not comprehending what he/she is reading there are many strategies that can be taught to improve the situation. These strategies help a student to identfy the sequence of events in the text, identify details and main ideas, use context to aid comprehension, to draw conclusions and to make inferences.
The Lexile Framework For Reading:
On this sites parents and educators can access everything they need to know to use the results of a student standardized test scores to improve reading instruction. The site explains that from every standardized test score a lexile can be derived. NWEA (Northwestern Evaluation Association) tests, in particular, report a students lexile range. Using the site's premier feature, The Lexile Book Database, lexile scores can be used to match a student to reading material that is at an appropriate level for him/her, because the lexile measures the student's ability and the readability of the text with the same unit of measurement. To comprehend what is being read, students should be reading at their "just right" level. If you are not sure of your child's lexile range, contact Mrs. Brousseau.
The Lexile Book Database is designed to help select texts that will challenge a student enough to promote development, but not so challenging as to overwhelm the reader and hamper comprehension. The site offers information to educators and parents alike. This site would actually help teachers enhance their literacy instruction in many strands of the curriculum. It is particularly helpful when NWEA tests are employed (although it can be used with any standardized test).
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