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Promoting Early Literacy Skills

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http://yec.sagepub.comYoung Exceptional Children DOI: 10.1177/1096250607313105 2008; 11; 2 Young Exceptional ChildrenSummers Kristine Black, Peggy Geraghty, Megan Hafer, Angie Lay, Brandie Mitera, Debra Richardson, Kara Steffen and Debra Lynette K. Chandler, Robin Miller Young, Donna Nylander, LuAnn Shields, JoAnne Ash, Becky Bauman, Jill Butts, Promoting Early Literacy Skills Within Daily Activities and Routines in Preschool Classroomshttp://yec.sagepub.com The online version of this article can be found at: Published by:http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children can be found at:Young Exceptional Children Additional services and information for http://yec.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://yec.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.navReprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.navPermissions: http://yec.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/11/2/2 Citations at FLORIDA ST UNIV COLLEGE OF MEDICINE on April 1, 2009 http://yec.sagepub.comDownloaded fromYOUNG EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN Vol. 11, No. 2, March 20082YECDOI: 10.1177/1096250607313105http://yec.sagepub.com© 2008 Division for Early ChildhoodLynette K. Chandler, PhDNorthern Illinois UniversityRobin Miller Young, EdDDonna Nylander, MSLuAnn Shields, MSJoAnne Ash, MSBecky Bauman, MSJill Butts, BSKristine Black, MSPeggy Geraghty, MSMegan Hafer, MSAngie Lay, BSBrandie Mitera, MHSDebra Richardson, MAKara Steffen, MSDebra Summers, MAPrairie Children Preschool Early ChildhoodProgramPromoting Early Literacy Skills WithinDaily Activities and Routines inPreschool ClassroomsMs. Stowell, a preschool teacher foran inclusive classroom, recentlyattended a workshop ondeveloping early language andliteracy skills in preschool-agedchildren. The presenters talkedabout the skills that childrenshould learn before kindergartenand the importance of providingmultiple opportunities for childrento practice these skills in theclassroom and at home. Ms. Stowellalready knows about some of theseskills. However, she is surprised tolearn that she could help herchildren learn additional skills thatare not specifically identified in herstate’s early learning standards(e.g., alliteration, blending, andsegmenting), and she leaves theworkshop excited to begin teachingthese other important skills whenshe returns to her classroom. OnMonday, when she starts to plan,she realizes that she has severalquestions. One question is, “Howand when should I teach theseskills?” A second questions is, “Howdo I do this with children who areat different ability levels?” And athird question is, “How do I do thiswith children who are linguisticallydiverse?” Although she learned whatskills to teach, she now wishes thatthe workshop had also addressedhow to teach those skills. at FLORIDA ST UNIV COLLEGE OF MEDICINE on April 1, 2009 http://yec.sagepub.comDownloaded fromVol. 11, No. 2, March 2008 YOUNG EXCEPTIONAL CHILDRENEmbedding Early Literacy / Chandler et al.3Ms. Stowell is likemany teachers andother serviceproviders whostruggle with trying to address themany skills that are important foryoung children to acquire during thepreschool years. She is motivated,works hard, and wants to providechildren with opportunities to learnimportant skills, but sometimes shefinds it difficult to do this. Thechildren in her class vary in terms ofcultural, linguistic, and abilitydiversity. There often does not seemto be enough time or staff to doeverything she wants to do, and sheis uncertain how to ensure that allchildren have opportunities topractice important skills.This problem was faced by theauthors of this article when wedecided that we wanted to be moresystematic and intentional inteaching early language and literacyskills. Our inclusive preschoolprogram has several blended classesthat include five children withspecial needs, two children identifiedas at risk, and eight typicallydeveloping children. Many childrenalso come from homes whereEnglish is not their native language.Our classrooms are staffed by oneteacher and two teaching assistants.Each teacher has Early ChildhoodCertification and Early ChildhoodSpecial Education Approval, whichallow them to teach children withspecial needs from 3 to 5 years ofage. We use emerging thematic unitsof study to help children acquireskills identified in our state earlylearning standards. Additional goalsfor children with special needs areaddressed within the theme-basedactivities and during one-on-one orsmall-group sessions. Our programis guided by developmentallyappropriate practices (Bredekamp &Copple, 1997) and the Division forEarly Childhood RecommendedPractices (Sandall, Hemmeter,Smith, & McLean, 2005).We employ a blend of child-directed and teacher-plannedactivities and routines. Teacher-planned activities and routinesinclude large-group circle, large-group story reading, snack, andscience and art center activities.Child-directed activities typicallyoccur during center time, as childrenare free to move from center tocenter and engage in activities asthey choose. Adults are presentwithin centers to support, but not todirect, children’s play. For example,a speech pathologist may ask a childto tell her about the building he ismaking with blocks, a teachingassistant may ask a child what colorof paint she would like in her cup,and when requested, a teacher mighthelp a child write her name on herpainting.Project ELIAlthough early language andliteracy skills are included in ourstate’s early learning standards, wefelt like we addressed these skills inan unstructured fashion that variedacross classrooms. There wasvariability across classrooms in(a) the type of skills addressed,(b) the sequence in which they wereaddressed, (c) the amount of timeteachers devoted to planning for andteaching these skills, (d) thestrategies that were used to addressskills, and (e) how progress wasMany teachers andother service providersstruggle with trying toaddress the many skillsthat are important foryoung children toacquire during thepreschool years.“” at FLORIDA ST UNIV COLLEGE OF MEDICINE on April 1, 2009 http://yec.sagepub.comDownloaded fromEmbedding Early Literacy / Chandler et al.YOUNG EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN Vol. 11, No. 2, March 20084monitored. As a result, wedeveloped and subsequentlyevaluated our Early LiteracyInitiative project (Project ELI).Project ELI is a comprehensive,two-tiered, early language andliteracy intervention


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