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Language Development and Literacy in the Primary Classroom

Kristina Cuellar, a Lower School teacher, talks candidly about the development of language and literacy for our primary students here at Noble Academy.

Chatterbox or curiosity?

Have you recently asked your early reader, “What did you enjoy while hearing or telling this story?” While the answers vary - a connection was made within the child, whether intellectual, emotional or spiritual - something magical happens. Children are natural storytellers and listeners and good stories create good conversations. This buds, binds and betters communication between classmates and teachers: which is the Noble Academy Way.

But what about my “chatterbox?” A curious student is often a “chatty” one. At Noble Academy, we embrace and guide our young Knights’ growing vocabulary and their innate eagerness to “chat it up.” Chattiness and conversation support language development and enhance reading proficiency. So, if you pass by my classroom and see a lot of “chatter” amongst my primary tribe, take notice...these are young, curious and creative learners developing their language and reading skills.

But….what else supports early reading?

Regularly, you will hear Noble Academy’s in-house speech pathologist, Debbie Vance, guiding the students in developing their language structure and articulation. While none of my students formally qualify for speech lessons, Debbie is an experienced speech and language teacher with lessons that support early literacy development and ones that build upon a student’s strengths and needs. We co-create lessons that enhance our instruction and the learning of the students. The goal of our collaboration is to build upon our own professional strengths so we can bring order, understanding and application to the complexity of the reading process. We strive to provide individualized instruction while we co-teach and offer many different examples that enrich the concepts being taught.

How do you approach the reluctant reader?

In August, when our youngest Knights arrive, we assess and celebrate the strengths that each student brings to the reading process and observe how he/she navigates through text. We then focus systematically on sequencing and directionality. Never underestimate the importance of providing direct instruction so young readers can understand how to move through a text. Debbie may demonstrate this concept fluidly with a variety of mediums that require the children to manipulate concrete objects in an ordered sequence from left to right with explicit vocabulary (first, second, third, last...) To create “echoes” for the students, I will then extend her instruction with puppetry, during a shared reading and retelling to solidify the concept and to engage any reluctant readers. Puppetry is a wonderful tool to teach new readers how to actively problem solve while reading continuous text. If a young Knight observes a resilient puppet using different reading strategies (visual cues, self-monitoring, self-correcting, WilsonⓇ notebook) and not give up, the student can too! Over time…. with practice and conviction; an independent reader develops.

How can language development support literacy?

Debbie and I co-pilot language rich primary lessons with creative activities that promote language development and foundational literacy skills in explicit ways. For example, the alphabetic principle utilizes the importance of slow articulation, modeling expressive speech and linking fluency to comprehension. We take the time to explicitly teach these early concepts to help children to create an awareness of pattern. This allows them to approach the reading process with curiosity and less fear. So, if you have an early reader and you are a bit curious about how Noble Academy can help your child’s reading development, please stop in for a visit and a “chat!”

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