Phonological Awareness,
Reading and Spelling
Sharon Walpole
University of Delaware
General Questions
• Do you have adequate understanding of the role
of phonological awareness in word recognition
and spelling?
• Does your reading program include adequate
attention to instruction in phonological
awareness?
• Does your reading program include a sensible
plan for phonological awareness assessment?
• Does your reading program include adequate
attention to intervention in phonological
awareness?
General Plan
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Definitions
Theoretical importance
Predictive importance
Illustrative research
Background knowledge
Classroom implications
phonological awareness of the constituent sounds
awareness of words in learning to read and spell
phonology
the study of speech sounds and their
functions in a language or languages
grapheme
a written or printed representation of
a phoneme, as b for /b/ and oy for
/oy/ in boy . . .can be a single letter
or a group of letters.
a minimal sound unit of speech that,
when contrasted with another
phoneme, affects the meaning of
words in a language /m/+/a/+/n/= man
phoneme
morpheme
phonological
processing
a meaningful linguistic unit that
cannot be divided into smaller
meaningful elements, as the
word book, or the component s in
books
the course of active change or
psychological activity involving
sound structure of words
metalinguistics
the study of language used to
analyze language
phonics
teaching reading and spelling
through sound-symbol
relationships
Levels of Phonological Awareness
Phonemic
Awareness
Onset-rime
Awareness
Syllable
Awareness
Categorizing, matching,
isolating, blending,
segmenting individual
speech sounds
Recognizing, generating
rhymes, blending
onsets-rimes
Segmenting, completing,
identifying, deleting
syllables
As you think about instruction you are
seeing in your schools, what strengths and
weaknesses can you see? To what extent
is instruction honoring the developmental
levels?
General Plan
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Definitions
Theoretical importance
Predictive importance
Illustrative research
Background knowledge
Classroom implications
Theoretical Importance
How is it that skilled readers recognize words?
How is it that novice readers acquire word
recognition skills?
word recognition
The process of determining the
pronunciation and some
degree of meaning of a word in
written or printed form
Dual-Route Theory (Coltheart)
WORD
WORD
Process graphemes
Process phonemes
Process orthography
Access sound
and meaning
Access
meaning
For beginning readers, what real-life reading
and spelling behaviors would the dualroute theory explain?
How does the dual route theory (implicitly)
influence word recognition and spelling
instruction?
What is the importance of phonological
awareness in this theory?
Connectionist Theories
(Sadoski and Paivio)
Word
Sound
Spelling
Strengthen “successful” connections;
Weaken “unsuccessful” connections
Meaning
For beginning readers, what real-life reading
and spelling behaviors would connectionist
theories explain?
How do connectionist theories (implicitly)
influence word recognition and spelling
instruction?
What is the importance of phonological
awareness in this theory?
Stage Theories (Ehri)
Word Recognition
Spelling
Logographic
Pre-alphabetic
Partial alphabetic
Early letter-name
Full alphabetic
Late letter-name
Orthographic
Within-word pattern
For beginning readers, what real-life reading
and spelling behaviors would stage
theories explain?
How do stage theories (implicitly) influence
word recognition and spelling instruction?
What is the importance of phonological
awareness to stage theories?
Self-Teaching Hypothesis
(Share)
Individual Word
Decoding Process
Establishment
of orthographic
representation
For beginning readers, what real-life reading
and spelling behaviors would the selfteaching hypothesis explain?
How does the self-teaching hypothesis
(implicitly) influence word recognition and
spelling instruction?
What is the importance of phonological
awareness to the self-teaching
hypothesis?
Skillful Reading: Q and A (Adams)
Do skillful readers recognize words as
whole shapes?
Do skillful readers access meaning
directly from print (bypassing sound)?
Do skillful readers anticipate words so
they won’t have to look at so many
letters?
Do skillful readers anticipate words so
they can focus on interpreting
meanings?
The Reading System (Adams)
Context
Processor
Meaning
Processor
Orthographic
Processor
Reading
Writing
Phonological
Processor
Speech
phocks
phocks
This false spelling illustrates a case in
which the orthographic processor cannot
help the reader locate a meaningful match
in memory. The phonological processor,
however, can make the match.
Phonological Awareness:
Foundational to all of these theories
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Gillon (2004)
Phonological route in dual-route theory
Sound and spelling representations in
connectionist theories
Essential knowledge in stage theories
Essential to decoding for the self-teaching
hypothesis
Essential in skilled reading
General Plan
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Definitions
Theoretical importance
Predictive importance
Illustrative research
Background knowledge
Classroom implications
Juel, 1988
Theoretical orientation
Simple View of Reading
Reading = Decoding X Listening
Comprehension
(a poor reader is either a poor decoder, a
weak comprehender, or both)
Subjects
54 children (of 129) who remained in a
school from first through fourth grade
Low-SES school (but free/reduced-priced
lunch numbers not reported)
31% African American
43% Hispanic
26% White
Measures (generally Oct/April each year)
Phonemic awareness
Pseudoword decoding
Word reading from basal series
Word reading from standardized tests
Listening comprehension from standardized test
Reading comprehension from standardized test
Spelling from standardized test
IQ in second grade
Writing samples
Oral story samples
Do the same children remain poor
readers year after year?
Yes.
If a child was a poor reader at the end of first
grade (ITBS < 1.2 GE) probability .88 that
he/she would be below grade level at the
end of fourth grade
What skills do poor readers lack?
They began first grade with weak phonemic
awareness.
They ended first grade with improved (but
still weak) phonemic awareness.
They had weak pseudoword decoding ability
at the end of first grade, and it continued
through the fourth grade.
What about the Simple View?
There were 30 poor readers at the end of
fourth grade.
28 were poor decoders
25 of these ALSO had poor
listening comprehension
2 were good decoders with poor
listening comprehension
What factors seemed to keep poor
readers from improving?
Poor decoding skills! (and then less access)
In first grade, good readers had seen over
18,000 words in their basals; poor readers
had seen fewer than 10,000.
In second grade, few children reported
reading at home, but in third and fourth
grades, average and good readers read
much more.
Juel’s Conclusions
1. Phonemic awareness is critical to
learning to decode.
2. Success in learning to decode during first
grade is critical.
3. Struggling readers need to be motivated
to read and need attention to
development of listening comprehension.
Other Evidence (lots of it)
Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte (1994)
Phonological processing skills before reading
instruction begins predict later reading
achievement
Training in phonological awareness and lettersounds enhances growth in word reading
Older good and poor readers have different
phonological processing skills
When we measure different phonological skills, we
find them correlated
Phonological awareness in kindergarten is
causally related to decoding in first grade
What implications do these ideas have for
your reading program?
General Plan
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Definitions
Theoretical importance
Predictive importance
Intervention research
Background knowledge
Classroom implications
Bradley and Bryant (1983)
Testing of over 400 4- and 5-year-olds, none
of whom could read
Initial sound categorization (odd man out)
related to reading and spelling 3 years later
Training study
Group I
Group II
Group III
Group IV
Picture
sorts for
beginning,
ending,
medial
sounds
Same
sorts, but
plastic
letters to
show the
common
sound
Same
No training
pictures,
but sort into
semantic
categories
Sorting plus letters group outperformed both
controls in reading and spelling
Sorting plus letters group outperformed
sorting only in spelling (but not in reading)
Blachman et al., 1999
Sample
159 kindergarten children (84 treatment)
Low-average PPVT (mean SS = 91)
85% free/reduced-price lunch
Average letter sounds = 2 (Jan., K)
Treatment
41 15-20 minute lessons
Heterogeneous groups (4-5) working with
teacher and/or paraprofessional
Kindergarten Lessons
1. Phoneme segmentation activity
Say it and move it
(children hear word, isolate individual
sounds while moving disks, then blend
sounds to make word again)
2. Segmentation-related activity
(initial consonant picture sorts)
3. Letter name and sound practice for
a,m,t,I,s,r,f,b
Kindergarten Results
Significant differences between treatment
and control for
Phoneme segmentation
Letter names
Letter sounds
Word reading
Nonword reading
Spelling
First Grade Lessons
Not all children made the same amount of
progress in the program; continue to
intervene during first grade
Homogeneous reading groups (6 to 9
children) used in the classroom for 30
minutes in place of basal reading group
First Grade Lessons
Review of letter sounds, with cards
Phoneme blending/analysis for regular
words using pocket charts and letter cards
Automaticity with phonetically regular and
high frequency words
10-15 minutes of reading from phonetically
controlled texts
Dictation of words and sentences
First Grade Results
Treatment children outperformed control
children in phoneme segmentation, in
letter name knowledge, in letter sound
knowledge, and in reading
Second Grade
Instruction was continued for children who
remained in second grade; again they
outperformed the control group in
measures of reading, but not spelling
Here are two pictures that contribute to
scientifically-based reading research.
How do the instructional approaches here
compare to the programs implemented in
your schools?
General Plan
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Definitions
Theoretical importance
Predictive importance
Illustrative research
Background knowledge
Classroom implications
Phonemes: 25 consonant (Gillon)
bag
pie
the
go
fir, cuff
phone,
had
van
ring
yes
teeth
lake,
wet
bell
measure where
cat, key, sun, miss, nail,
science,
duck
know
city
mat
sheep
dog
tap
jump,
zoo,
gem, rage, rose,
bridge
buzz
rain,
write
cheese,
watch
16 Vowel Phonemes (Gillon)
cat
sit
cup
wet, bread box, saw,
fraud
cake, rain, my, tie,
day, eight fine
boot, true, tree, key, so, oak,
blew
eat, happy ode, show
car
book, put
boy, coin
bird, fur,
fern
for
cow
found
Phoneme Counting
shoe
spray
so
she
squid
sap
fox
smart
tax
three
thrift
thump
thrice
thought
though
threat
Activities sort. There are six phonological
awareness activities listed, with three
examples of each (easy, moderate,
difficult).
First group the samples with the name.
Then put them in order by difficulty.
Phonological Awareness Activities
Syllable
How many How many How many
segmentation syllables in syllables in syllables in
teddy?
elephant? anatomy?
Rhyme
Phoneme
identity
Do cat and Mat, sun,
car rhyme? cat. Which
doesn’t
rhyme?
What’s the What’s the
first sound last sound
in man?
in mat?
Tell me
words that
rhyme with
bat.
What’s the
middle sound
in tip?
Phonological Awareness Activities
Blending
C-at. What
word?
Segmenting Cat. Say
the first
sound and
the rest.
Deletion
Say cowboy
without the
boy
D-o-g.
What
word?
S-t-o-p.
What word?
How many How many
sounds in sounds in
sit?
stop?
Say part
Say step
without the without the
/p/.
/t/.
General Plan
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Definitions
Theoretical importance
Predictive importance
Illustrative research
Background knowledge
Classroom implications
National Reading Panel Report
General question:
What do we know about phonemic
awareness instruction with sufficient
confidence to recommend for classroom
use?
Method
Meta-analysis
Statistical method for combining
the results from a collection of
program evaluations to reach
an overall conclusion about
program effects
Sources
• Training studies
• Experimental design (with control groups)
• Measured effects of training on reading
52 studies were located, 1976-1999
Coding Variables
Characteristics of
Training
Number of skills
Use letters?
Group size
Trainer
Length of time
Characteristics of
Participants
Type of reader
Grade
Language
SES
Findings
PA training improves phonemic awareness.
PA training improves decoding.
PA training improves spelling.
PA training improves comprehension.
PA training works for prek, K, 1 and older disabled
readers.
PA training works with high- and low-SES children.
PA training does not improve spelling for readingdisabled students.
PA training works in English and in other
language.
Many different activities can be used in the
trainings; a focus on one or two skills
appears more effective than more.
Blending and segmenting are most powerful.
Using letters in training is better than not
using them.
Overlearning letter names, shapes, and
sounds should be emphasized along with
PA training.
Between 5 and 18 hours yielded the
strongest effects. Longer programs were
less effective. (But the panel cautioned
against making “rules” about time.)
Regular classroom teachers can effectively
implement the training.
Small groups were more effective than
whole class or tutoring.
PA training does not improve spelling for
reading-disabled students.
So what can we do with what we
know?
1. Choose and use instructional programs
and approaches that develop
phonological awareness and alphabet
knowledge in kindergarten and first
grade
Research program reviews
http://reading.uoregon.edu/curricula/or_rfc_review_2.php
Consider program demands against local
resources: people, time, money
So what can we do with what we
know?
2. Choose and use assessments to monitor
progress of all children in phonemic
awareness and alphabet knowledge
Consider curriculum-embedded
assessments, used to inform instruction
and pacing, and outside assessments,
used to provide normative information
So what can we do with what we
know?
3. Choose and use assessments to screen
kindergarteners and first graders for risk
in phonemic awareness and alphabet
knowledge
http://idea.uoregon.edu/assessment/index.html
So what can we do with what we
know?
4. Choose and use intervention programs
for those children who are at-risk in the
area of phonological awareness or
alphabet knowledge
Research program reviews
http://oregonreadingfirst.uoregon.edu/SIreport.php
http://www.fcrr.org/pmrn/tier3/tier3interventions.htm
Consider program demands against local
resources: people, time, money
Adams, M. J. (1994). Modeling the connections between word recognition and
reading. In In R.B. Ruddell & N.J. Unrau, (Eds.), Theoretical models and
processes of reading (54h ed.) (pp. 838-863). Newark, DE: International
Reading Association.
Blachman, B.A., Tangel, D.M., Ball, E.W., Black, R., & McGraw, C. (1999).
Developing phonological awareness and word recognition skills: a two-year
intervention with low-income, inner-city children. Reading and Writing: An
Interdisciplinary Journal, 11, 239-273.
Bradley, L., & Bryant, P.E. (1983). Categorizing sounds and learning to read: A
causal connection. Nature, 301, 419-421.
Coltheart, M. (1978). Lexical access in simple reading tasks. In G. Underwood
(Ed.), Strategies of information processing (pp. 151-216). London: Academic
Press.
Ehri, L.C., & McCormick, S. (1998). Phases of word learning: Implications for
instruction with delayed and disabled readers. Reading and Writing Quarterly:
Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 14, 135-163.
Gillon, G. T., (2004). Phonological awareness: From research to practice. New
York: Guilford Press.
Juel,C. (1988). Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children
from first through fourth grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 437447.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000).
Report of the National Reading Panel. 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 (NIH Publication No. 00-4754). Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office.
Ruddell, R.B., & Unrau, N.J. (2004). Theoretical models and processes
of reading (5th ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Sadoski, M., & Paivio, A. (2004). A dual coding theoretical model of
reading. In R.B. Ruddell & N.J. Unrau, (Eds.), Theoretical models
and processes of reading (5th ed.) (pp. 1329-1362). Newark, DE:
International Reading Association.
Share, D.L. (1998). Phonological recoding and orthographic learning: A
direct test of the self-teaching hypothesis. Journal of Experimental
Child Psychology, 72, 95-129
Torgesen, J.K., Wagner, R.K., & Rashotte, C.A. (1994). Longitudinal
studies of phonological processing and reading. Journal of Learning
Disabilities, 27, 276-286.
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Phonemic Awareness in Reading and Spelling