Jun 19, 2015
Using a Common Vocabulary
A few weeks ago I shared that many teachers from my school have been doing a book study together. It has been going well and we have one chapter left. It has been fun to visit individual homes of the teachers I work with around the city. Makes for a nice change of environment.
The book that we have been reading is Reading Reflex:
We have discussed Chapter 3: Teaching the Basic Code, Chapter 4: Adjacent Consonant Sounds, and Chapter 5: Teaching the Advanced Code. Each chapter has provided us with some good conversations about how we each teach these skills in our classroom. This led to a better understanding of how we could be more cohesive as a building. And one way that we can do that is through the language that we use.
The book offers some interesting perspectives of the language that is used in most classrooms (this book is written for parents). The book goes in depth explaining that letters do not "make" sounds. They represent sounds. They suggest the term sound picture should be used versus vowel team or other common terms. We really liked the idea of using represent versus make. But we also recognize that the kids we work with are very transient and need to understand that "vowel picture" and "vowel team" are terms that can be used interchangeably.
The book also points out that using the terms long and short for vowels is confusing to children because they are terms for length. And that the term blends is confusing because we are actually blending all the sounds in a word. I completely understand both points that they are making. It makes complete sense to me. But...again...our students are very transient and need to know those terms because they are used in most schools. So we decided to stick with them.
Because the book takes a different view on vocabulary used by teachers, it has made for some great conversations. And since we just completed our building Literacy framework, it has been a good time for us to talk about language and the instructional strategies we want to use to teach phonics.
To sum up my rambling....we have decided that we were using lots of different terms to teach the exact same things. For example: sight words, know by heart words, popcorn words, high frequency words all meant the same thing. We are going with sight words. So here are some terms that we are sticking with as a building:
Coming Soon: The book does a really great job explaining how sounds are related and not related with visuals. This was a HUGE takeaway for me! Be on the lookout for it :)