Post Promise: Literacy is vital to our students’ success, and phonological awareness is crucial to mastery of this skill. Today, I’ll share one big reason some of your learners may be having trouble grasping this important concept (hint: it isn’t that they aren’t intelligent enough!). Keeping learning style in mind is vital to gaining phonological awareness.
Well hey there, teacher friend! I hope the first two posts in this series about phonological awareness – what it is and what skills it is made of – have you feeling empowered to teach this vital skill to your own learners! If you missed either post, you can check the first one out HERE and the second out HERE.
One of the fundamental concepts of phonological awareness is that it is an abstract and highly auditory skill. Students need to be able to hear what words are made of and associate them with what they represent.
The catch is our learners don’t all learn well using auditory modalities. There are three different learning styles students may have: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Students with a preference of one style may still be able to learn information presented with another modality, but it will be far less effective. Maybe you have noticed that students struggle with some concepts but embrace others easily. This could be why!
If you’d like to dig a little deeper, HERE is a good reference. Let’s take a look at each of these learning types.
The auditory learning style is best suited to learning phonological awareness. Many of the component skills that make up phonological awareness, including rhyme and syllable, are going to be easier for auditory learners to pick up on than other students. Students need to be able to hear these sounds within words to continue through the different skills in phonological awareness.
These students are the ones who will be able to hear examples and grasp these concepts. Repetition out loud during learning will help them. These are the students who excel when given songs as a way to memorize ideas or processes. They are able to understand what to do more quickly when we tell them the directions out loud. You may find that they repeat directions out loud so they can process them even better.
This doesn’t mean auditory learners can’t read, but they may modify how they read. They might read aloud to themselves or move their lips while they read silently. They do well with having some noise or music in the background while they work.
The problem is, only about 34% of students are auditory learners. This portion of your classroom will tend to have a much easier time grasping phonological awareness than the rest of the class, because this skill relies so much on hearing the sounds and making relationships between words based on how they sound.
What about the rest of the class? You know, the students whose little eyes glaze over when you give them step by step instructions out loud? It isn’t that these students aren’t intelligent. They just don’t process information well this way. That brings us to visual and kinesthetic learners.
These students, around 29% of the class, are the ones who need things to be written or printed so that they can see them. Charts or posted classroom rules with picture keys make sense to these students. These are the learners who retain information more effectively once they have seen it. Give them a spoken series of instructions and they may be a little lost, but if they can see what to do they are completely capable of getting the job done.
These students do well when we give examples of lectures and illustrate concepts on the white board. They may doodle, and they’ll grow up to be the students who color code notebooks and can remember on what part of a page in the textbook the answer to a test question is located. They’re good at drawing pictures to represent ideas or stories. This format just makes more sense to them.
These learners are the least likely to benefit from “traditional” classroom methods of lectures, textbooks, and handouts. These students, maybe around 37% of the class, are the ones who learn best through movement. They need to build things. Models or manipulatives in math that they can move help them grasp these concepts and remember facts. They may thrive on songs with hand motions combined, because this movement helps them process the auditory information they are trying to retain.
All of our learners at this age need movement built into their day, but for these students it’s even more vital. If you’ve seen the movie Akeelah and the Bee, Akeelah is a perfect example of a kinesthetic learner. She is an excellent speller, but she doesn’t learn best by just looking at flash cards. The method that works for her is jumping rope and spelling in rhythm with her jumping. It isn’t that she is a disruptive or difficult student. This is just the way her brain is wired to process information.
Secret Sauce: Phonological Awareness and Learning Style
Students can learn in a style that isn’t their preference, but it is much more difficult for them. Many students will have a couple learning styles that they do well in. Considering how individual students learn, does it make sense to use only one format to provide instruction?
That’s where the secret sauce of teaching phonological awareness comes in. This incorporates all the learning styles, with little extra time taken in the process, into a routine that will reach every student’s preferred style of learning. The good news is you don’t need to create three separate lessons and carve out three separate blocks of time to provide the same instruction three times in three ways. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about that!
The better news is that I have done a lot of the prep work for you! If this sounds like something that can make your classroom a more joyful, effective place of learning, let me share how you can access this. I’ve put together a video series that covers what phonological awareness is and how to actually apply the secret sauce all over your classroom time. I’ll show you with actual examples from my real classroom (no strictly theoretical or hypothetical methods for us, folks) how this truly works to fully engage all the students in your classroom.
We’ll use all the learning styles so that no matter whether a student has a strong preference for just one learning style, or if he or she learns well with two styles, there’s a way for each of them to grasp these concepts. It’s interactive, so the class is engaged and behaved in a routine that encourages participation, excitement, and comprehension of this vital material.
Use Learning Style to Boost Phonological Awareness!
When students who don’t become proficient readers are four times more likely to not graduate high school, we can’t afford to not give our learners every chance possible to excel in literacy. Without phonological awareness, they won’t be able to reach this important milestone.
Now that you understand even more fully why phonological awareness is so important, and why some of our students don’t naturally grasp the concepts involved, go ahead and grab these techniques that I’ve tested and can honestly say have revolutionized how I teach phonological awareness in my classroom. Are you ready? Head on over to the VIDEO SERIES!
Do you have questions for me? Want to share your strategies or experience? We’d love to hear from you in the Primary Teacher Friends Facebook group HERE!
Until next time,