Relevant Research

Sunday, March 26, 2017

TSR

TSR Summer Institute

The Institute committee is reviewing the proposals for the 7th Annual Texas School Ready Summer Institute. We will be letting presenters know of their acceptance or denial by mid-April.

Webinars

Don't miss out on our final webinars about how to use the CLI Engage system to target specific learning domains! 

TSR Comprehensive Dates

End-of-Year Progress Monitoring, COT, and CEC assessments will begin in April. 

Administrative meetings will be held in April and May. 

TX-KEA Spring Roadshow

We're halfway done with our tour of Texas, but we still have a lot of sites to see! Check out our list of upcoming events below! For more info, contact your ESC or email us at texaskea@uth.tmc.edu.

CLI Engage Website

Texas School Ready Website

Children's Learning Institute Website

Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines

Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS)

Why is a letter wall one of the most important features of the room?

Letter walls are an important part of early childhood classrooms as they help transform classrooms into print-rich environments. Children are able to reference the words when writing, which gives them independence and problem solving skills. Letter walls also help teach the alphabetic principal by visually displaying each letter of the alphabet with a key word picture. This interactive tool exposes young children to a variety of concepts throughout the year and helps emergent readers and writers become aware of:

  • Letter forms
  • Letter names
  • Basic letter-sound correspondences
  • The idea that words can be written down
  • The concept of words
  • Beginning letters in familiar words

Letter walls also help enhance children’s vocabulary development. This is an effective and useful way to organize words and help children reference vocabulary they’re learning in class. Preschoolers are at the beginning stages of understanding basic concepts about text and sound/symbol relationships. According to Piasta & Wagner (2010), a child’s knowledge of letter names and sounds is the best predictor of reading and spelling abilities.

When discussing the letter wall, there are several things that need to be remembered to make the letter wall a successful learning tool.

  • If children are not interacting and involved with the letter wall, it becomes a decoration.
  • Children will only learn from the letter wall if it is meaningful to them.
  • Children’s interest will be sparked when new games and activities are introduced.
  • Make the games and activities fun, playful, short, and interactive.

The letter wall should be used daily and can be used in a large group, small group, or one-on-one settings. Children need to be able to access the letter wall, so that it can be easily used as an interactive tool. Make sure to find a space large enough for the entire alphabet. Ideally this space would be located in or near the circle time area and at their eye level. If there is a lack of wall space, some other options include:

  • Portable boards such as science project boards, sewing/cutting boards, shower boards, etc.
  • The back of shelves
  • The space below chalk boards

Research shows that teaching students to recognize and manipulate the segments of sounds in words and linking those sounds to letters is necessary to prepare children to read words and comprehend text. As soon as students can decode simple words, they should have opportunities to practice reading new and familiar words or word parts in connected text (Foorman et al., 2016).

When used as a tool to support instruction, letter walls can be a planned, purposeful, and playful way to teach activities in the preK classroom, allowing for meaningful learning to occur.

Resources:  

  • Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., ... & Keating, B. (2016). Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. Educator's Practice Guide. NCEE 2016-4008. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
  • Piasta, S. B., & Wagner, R. K. (2010). Learning letter names and sounds: Effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology105, 324-344. 
Teaching Tips

Tips for using an interactive letter wall

How do I set up the letter wall?

  • Use small cards that include the uppercase and lowercase letter and a key word picture.
  • Arrange these cards in sequential order. If two rows are used, make sure to put A through M on the top row, and N through Z on the bottom row. Leave room for four to five words under each letter.
  • If possible, use Velcro strips under each letter to allow words to be easily added and removed.

What do I need to know when making letter wall cards?

  • Use lowercase letters on word cards (except for proper nouns).
  • The print size that you use depends on the space available - cut your paper to size.
  • Using a consistent print size will help children as they develop word concepts and print.
  • The word should be written first, followed by a picture.
  • Pictures may be drawn by hand, found in magazines, or downloaded from the Internet.

How long should words remain on the letter wall?

  • Keep children’s names up all year if space allows. Teachers may consider adding last names and/or removing children's photos mid-year.
  • Give children plenty of time to interact with the words before taking them down.
  • If themes last for an extended time (3-4 weeks), words may be changed within the theme.
  • Try to keep the letter wall from get cluttered.

What do I do with the words I take down from the letter wall?

  • Put the words into a book. You could make a theme book (Our Farm Book), a letter book (Our M Book), or even an alphabet book (Our A-Z Book).
  • Books may be placed in the library center or the writing center.
  • Words can also be placed in a word file in the writing center or be used to make a game.

How do I introduce the letter wall to the children?

  • Explain to children that the letter wall represents the alphabet and that the letters in the alphabet are what we use to read and write.
  • During the first couple of weeks, read some simple ABC books such as "Chicka, Chicka, Boom Boom" and "Alphabet Under Construction." Also sing a variety of alphabet songs and use a pointer to draw attention to the appropriate letters.
  • Play games such as:
    • Having children point out letters they know.
    • Giving children a letter and have them match it to the letter wall.
    • Using a variety of tools to have children point to letters on the wall.

What are the first words that I put on the letter wall?

  • The first words that go on the letter wall should be the children’s names. One way to make this more meaningful to children is by reading an alphabet name book such as "Anne to Zach."
  • Next, tell the children that they are going to make their own class alphabet book. Start by putting a letter on each page. Add the children’s names and pictures under each corresponding letter, making sure to leave the page blank if no one in the class begins with that letter. Read the book to the class.
  • Make a name card for each child. This should have the first names only with their photo.
  • Play a game. Call out the letters in sequential order. If someone has a name that begins with that letter, have the child put their name card under the letter. Make this fun and exciting! This could happen in one session or throughout the week.

Letter Wall Word Games

Word Match

  • Put duplicate word cards face down and let a child choose one.
  • She or he must match it to the correct word on the letter wall.

Mix Up

  • When putting a word on the letter wall, pretend that you don’t know where it goes. Let the children help you find the correct place.
  • Example: "I think I will put the word 'fox' here." You are holding it under the letter Mm.
  • Children love to correct you by saying, "No! It goes under the Ff."

Resources:  

  • Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., ... & Keating, B. (2016). Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. Educator's Practice Guide. NCEE 2016-4008. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
  • Piasta, S. B., & Wagner, R. K. (2010). Learning letter names and sounds: Effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology105, 324-344. 

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