Negotiating the Tension between DAP & Skills-Based Instruction in Kindergarten Sister Mary Karen Oudeans, Ph.D. Silver Lake College, Manitowoc, WI Ben Ditkowsky, Ph.D. Educational Consultant, Chicago, IL
What is Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP)? • DAP is based on the assumptions that children can develop without specific intervention and that to provide specific intervention may, in fact, be detrimental to development. • DAP is based on the conviction that • Early educational experiences and environments are important. • Classroom practices following DAP guidelines enhance children’s development and facilitate learning. • Superior academic benefits result from DAP practices
A few DAP Research Citations • Bredekamp & Rosegrant, 1992 • Bredekamp & Copple, 1997 • Carta, Atwater, Schwartz, & McConnell, 1993 • Dunn, Beach, Kontos, 1994 • Hyson, Hirsh-Pasek, Rescola, 1990 • Kostelnik, 1992 • Sherman, Mueller, 1996 • Stipek, Feiler, Daniels, Milburn, 1995
DAP Principles • Age appropriateness and individualization • Student readiness • Teaching in the Zone of Proximal Development • Integration of curriculum & assessment • Importance of active engagement c. f. Carta, Atwater, Schwartz, & McConnell, 1993
Misinterpretations of DAP • DAP does not mean teachers don’t teach and the children control the classroom. • Classrooms where teachers abdicate responsibility for instruction are NOT developmentally appropriate. • Good (DAP) early childhood programs are, • Highly organized and • Highly structured environments • Where teachers have carefully prepared • Where teachers are in control • (e. g. Bredekamp & Rosegrant, 1992; Kostelnik, 1992)
Statements of NAEYC & IRA regarding Reading & DAP (1998) • Learning to read and write is a complex, multifaceted process that requires a wide variety of instructional approaches. • A DAP model of literacy learning and development is an interactive process.
Statements of NYEAC & IRA regarding DAP Believes that-- • Goals and expectations for young children’s achievement in reading and writing should be developmentally appropriate, that is, challenging but achievable, with sufficient adult support.
NAEYC Expectations for Teachers • Early Childhood Teachers need to understand and be skilled in • The developmental continuum of reading & writing • A variety of strategies to assess and support individual children. • Setting appropriate literacy goals • Adapting instructional strategies
NAEYC Expects Teachers to: • Frequently read interesting and conceptually rich stories to children • Provide daily opportunities for children to write • Help children build a sight vocabulary • Create a literacy-rich environment for children to engage independently in reading & writing
NAEYC Goal for Kindergarten: Children develop basic concepts of print and begin to engage in and experiment with reading and writing
Some Key Early Reading Syntheses Adams. M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge,MA: The MIT Press. Snow, C. E., Burns, M. S., & Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children.Washington, DC: National Academy Press. National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction: Reports of the subgroups. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Also available on the internet • http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/nrp/smallbook.htm
What We Know From This Research • Children who are at risk of reading disability can be identified as early as kindergarten(Torgesen, Wagner, Rashotte, Alexander, & Conway, 1997), and early intervention is the key. • Kindergarten teachers have a brief window to intervene to prevent an escalating pattern of failure. • Overall, to change outcomes, we must provide the highest quality instruction available as early as possible. • The critical time for instruction = Kindergarten!
Kindergarten Instructional Targets • Phonological Awareness. • The awareness and understanding of the sound structure of our language, that “cat” is composed of the sounds /k/ /a/ /t/. • Alphabetic Principle. Based on two parts: • Alphabetic Understanding. Words are composed of letters that represent sounds, and • Phonological Recoding. Systematically identifying a letter sound and blending the sounds together to retrieve the pronunciation of an unknown printed string or to spell. • Automaticity = Fluency • The ability to translate letters-to-sounds-to-words fluently and effortlessly
What should kids be able to DO by the end of kindergarten that is most predictive of Success in Reading. 1. Blending • Orally blend • onset-rime (m - ilk) • 2 - 3 separately spoken phonemes into one syllable words. (m-e : me . f - u - n : fun.) 2. Segmentation • Identify the first sound in a 1 syllable word ( bug begins with the sound /b/) • Say the individual sounds in 2 to 3 phoneme 1 syllable words (/c/ /a/ /t/)
Teaching BIG Ideas in Alphabetic Understanding in kindergarten • Teach letter & sound blending, segmenting • Scaffold the Instruction • read and practice • first in isolation... • then in words... • then in connected text • begin with most common, high frequency sounds and words • teach one item at a time with intensive practice, ... then continue cumulative and distributed practice daily
What should kids be able to DO by the end of kindergarten? Letter - Sound correspondence • Identify letters by sound • Say the most common sound for letters Decoding • Blend sounds of letters to READ short words Sight-word reading • Recognize common sight words • (e.g. a, I, is, the, my you, of, are)
Alphabetic UnderstandingResearch Conclusions • Letter-sound knowledge • is prerequisite to effective word identification. The primary difference between good and poor readers is the ability to use letter-sound correspondence to identify words. • Students who acquire and apply alphabetic understanding early in their reading careers reap long-term benefits. • Teaching students to listen, remember, and process the letter-sound correspondence in words is a difficult, demanding, yet achievable goal with long lasting effects.
Alphabetic UnderstandingResearch Conclusions • Combining instruction in phonological awareness and letter-sounds appears to be the most favorable for successful early reading. • A whole word strategy, by itself, has limited utility in an orthography based on an alphabet. • Awareness of the relation between sounds and their corresponding printed letter can be taught.
So-- The “pressure” is on! • Kindergarten outcomes contribute substantially to first grade reading outcomes. • By focusing on early literacy skills and attaining established phonological awareness in kindergarten, the likelihood of successful reading outcomes increases. • For students with a deficit in phonological awareness in kindergarten, reading difficulty and reading failure are likely - unless skills are remediated early.
We know from previous research • It is critical for kindergarten reading instruction to make explicit the connections between print and the sounds of spoken language. • How we teach the two component skills of letter-sounds and phonological blending and segmenting is as important to children’s progress in becoming readers as what we teach.
Key Questions • If traditional DAP kindergarten teachers implement a structured, teacher-directed set of instructional lessons will students meet key instructional benchmarks? • If kids are successful, will teachers “buy into” the more structured approach? • Will the size of the group make a difference • whole group instruction (13 –15 children), • small group, (6 or fewer children)
Teachers self-selected to participate: 2 teachers in same district 1 teacher from K-5 school in neighboring district 1 teacher volunteered as Control. She allowed us to assess her students but felt her children were learning what was necessary to meet kindergarten benchmarks. Teacher Participants
School A Intervention group (Whole class instruction) • N = 39 children am / pm Kindergarten (2 teachers) • 15 minutes of explicit instructional lessons along with early literacy DAP instruction Control group (Traditional Kindergarten) • N = 26 children in am. / pm (1 teacher) • Used early literacy program based on DAP guidelines
School B Intervention group (small group instruction) 22 children in am / pm kindergarten (2 teachers) • 15 minutes of explicit instructional lessons along with early literacy DAP instruction • (5 to 6 children in each group) Difference from School A: Children divided into 2 groups, 6 children each. 15-minute lessons taught by classroom teacher & Title 1 teacher.
Teachers’ Philosophy Statements • “I think children learn best by exploring & experiencing many different things in our curriculum, My role should be to set up the activities so the children learn by doing.” • “My job…is to take each child from the level they are at when they come into kindergarten and help them reach their highest potential.” • “My philosophy generally is to accept children at their current point in development & progress them according to their ability.”
Teachers’ Philosophy Statements • “My job is to develop the child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn through the provision of meaningful, interesting & age appropriate experiences.” • “I believe children learn best through meaningful hands on experiences which allow them to interact with objects, materials, and people in their environment. • “The role of the teacher is to systematically model, teach, and design learning situations in which the students learn concepts, skills, and ideas, using a variety of ways…through explicit, implicit, actual hands on experiential instruction. The method of delivery depends on the students and how they learn best.”
Types of Literacy Activities in DAP Classrooms • Memorizing letter names & sounds • Rhyming games • 6-trait writing lessons • Phonemic awareness activities that stress variety of skills • Phonics lessons focusing on individual letters & sounds and how to blend them • Shared reading & writing experiences • Independent writing experiences based on real life experiences
Assessment Targets and Age Range Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) were developed by Good and Associates at the University of Oregon to measure and monitor student outcomes of key instructional targets in beginning reading. Initial Sound
Assessment Targetsand Age Range Initial Sound Initial Sound Fluency measures a child’s ability to say the initial sound of a spoken word
Assessment Targets and Age Range Initial Sound Phonemic Segmentation Fluency measures a child’s ability to say all of the sounds in a spoken word
Assessment Targets and Age Range Initial Sound Nonsense Word Fluency measures a child’s ability to say the sounds in; or read “make-believe” words
Initial Sound Fluency We can see that intervention makes a difference for ISF. But ISF is not a goalin and of itself.
ISF corresponds with PSF In general: Children who scored higher in ISF scored higher in PSF as well. Children who scored lower in ISF scored lower in PSF as well. Initial Sound Fluency
Phonemic Segmentation Fluency (PSF) We can see that intervention makes a difference for PSF. But PSF is not a goalin and of itself.
PSF corresponds with NWF In general: Children who scored higher in PSF scored higher in NWF as well. Children who scored lower in PSF scored lower in NWF as well. Phonemic Segmentation Fluency and Nonsense Word Fluency