How Foundational Writing Informs Early Decoding Skills in Virtual Instruction

How Foundational Writing Informs Early Decoding Skills in Virtual Instruction

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7222-1.ch016
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How do you teach a child to read in a virtual classroom? Answering this question can feel like a daunting task – the new kindergartener, five-years-old, may not be able to navigate the virtual classroom because they do not yet possess the skill of reading. When the act of teaching reading takes up the majority of instructional time in the early elementary classroom, this task can seem impossible in online learning environments. This chapter presents methods and approaches for teaching early reading and writing virtually. Specifically, the chapter covers developmental levels for reading and writing, technological frameworks for engaging students in virtual instruction, and applications of virtual instruction to early literacy instruction. The chapter serves as a practical toolkit for teachers to help set students up for success without hindering their knowledge of skills that will be essential to their learning in the future.
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What Is Reading?

As of 2020, reading is getting more attention as the “science of reading” paradigm sweeps the United States. The science of reading indicates that children learn to read by the simple view of reading (Cervetti et al., 2020; Petscher, 2020), developing language skills and decoding skills that lead to comprehension. This view of reading focuses on explicit, systematic instruction with oral language and phonemic awareness, the understanding and ability to manipulate sounds that make up the language. Then, children receive targeted instruction on phonics, which is the knowledge of how letters and sounds work together in patterns to create words.

In 2000, a group of literacy experts called the National Reading Panel (NRP), published their results of a systematic review of research on reading (National Reading Panel, 2000). The panel concluded that the five components of any reading program are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The science of reading focuses strongly on the first two components, phonemic awareness and phonics, while other frameworks for reading build the other three components.

When teaching reading skills, the prevalent belief is that all five components of the NRP report should be taught in conjunction (Fisher et al., 2019; Reutzel & Cooter, 2018). With emergent readers, a progression of skills develops from first developing phonemic awareness skills, then moving into phonics, with considerations of comprehension for both. Once students have basic phonics skills, they begin to work on fluency as they further develop their phonics skills. Vocabulary is also interspersed in all aspects of reading as children develop their decoding skills and other literacy skills (Clay, 2001; Doyle, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

TPACK: A model focused on technological and pedagogical content knowledge that informs instruction with technology.

Literacy Processing Theory: An approach to teaching literacy that integrates reading and writing and values the knowledge of the individual child, developed by Marie Clay.

Writing: The act of generating and revising text based on rules or conventions to communicate an idea.

Writing Instruction: The pedagogical approaches and techniques used to teach students how to write.

Reading Development: The trajectory of reading beginning with print concepts and developing into knowledge of spelling patterns and decoding.

Writing Development: The developmental trajectory of writing beginning with preliterate and ending with fluent writing.

Virtual Instruction: Instruction that occurs through and with technology predominately and does not engage instructors or students in traditional, in-person settings.

SAMR: A technology framework that focuses on teachers’ ability to integrate technology as a substitution, addition, modification, or redefinition of traditional instruction.

Emergent Writing Instruction: Writing instruction for children from birth to grade three.

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