Teachers IMPROVE STUDENT PERFORMANCE
Teaching Our Youngest
A Guide for Preschool Teachers and Child Care and Family Providers
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Some Helpful Terms to Know

Here are some terms that you may encounter as you read more about early childhood education.

Alliteration The same consonant sounds at the beginning of words in a sentence or a line of poetry. For example, the sound of P in Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Alphabetic principle The understanding that written letters systematically represent sounds. For example, the word big has three letters and three sounds.

Big books Oversized books that allow children to see the print and pictures as we read them.

Cognitive development Children's developing knowledge, skills, and dispositions, which help them to think about and understand the world around them.

Decoding The translation of the letters in written words into recognizable sounds and combining these sounds into meaningful words.

Emergent literacy The view that literacy learning begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in meaningful literacy-related activities.

Environmental print Printed materials that are a part of everyday life. They include signs, billboards, labels, and business logos.

Explicit instruction Teaching children in a systematic and sequential manner.

Experimental writing Young children experiment with writing by creating pretend and real letters and by organizing scribbles and marks on paper.

Invented spelling Phonemic-based spelling where children create their own nonconventional spelling.

Letter knowledge The ability to identify the names and shapes of the letters of the alphabet.

Journals Writing books in which young learners scribble, draw, and use their own spellings to write about their experiences.

Literacy Includes all the activities involved in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and appreciating both spoken and written language.

Phonemes The smallest parts of spoken language that combine to form words. For example, the word hit is made up of three phonemes (h-i-t) and differs by one phoneme from the words pit, hip and hot.

Phonics The relationships between the sounds of spoken language and the individual letters or groups of letters that represent those sounds in written language.

Phonological awareness The ability to notice and work with the sounds in language. Phonological awareness activities can involve work with alliteration, rhymes, and seperating individual syllables into sounds.

Print awareness The knowledge that printed words carry meaning and that reading and writing are ways to obtain ideas and information. A young child's sensitivity to print is one of the first steps toward reading.

Scaffolded instruction Instruction in which adults build upon what children to per-form more complex tasks.

Sight vocabulary Words that a reader recognizes without having to sound them out.

Vocabulary The words we must know in order to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary refers to words that we use in speaking or recognize in listening. Reading vocabulary refers to words we recognize or use in print.

Word recognition Using any one of a number of strategies such as recognition by sight or decoding so as to figure out their meaning.

What is Scientifically Based Reading Research?

Some federal programs may have a specific statutory or regulatory definition of this term. In general, scientifically based reading research includes concepts such as those below.

Scientifically based reading research uses scientific procedures to obtain knowledge about how young children develop reading skills, how children can be taught to read, and how children can overcome reading difficulties. Scientifically based reading research has the following characteristics:

1) It uses clear, step-by-step methods of gathering data. These methods involve careful observations and measurements. Often, experiments are used to gather information. For example, an experiment may compare how well children learn to read when they are taught in different ways.

2) It uses established, acceptable ways of measuring and observing. Let's say a researcher is trying to find which type of instruction best helps children learn the meaning of new words. The researcher must decide how to measure the children's word learning. Should the children just be asked whether they know the word? Should they be able to recognize the correct definition among several choices? Or, should they be able to use the new word correctly in their writing? The way the researcher chooses to measure word learning must be acceptable to other researchers as a good, or valid, measure of word learning.

3) It requires that researchers use established, acceptable ways of making sense of, or interpreting, the data they gather. Researchers must show that the conclusions they reach follow logically from the data they collected. Other researchers must be able to draw the same or similar conclusions from the data, and similar experiments must produce similar data.

4) It requires that several other researchers have carefully reviewed the report of the research. The report must include enough specific information about the research so that other researchers could repeat the research and verify the findings. These expert reviewers must agree that the research was done carefully and correctly and that the conclusions follow from the data. Usually, scientifically based reading research is published in professional journals and presented at professional meetings so that other researchers can learn from the work.

Scientifically based reading research provides the best available information about how you can help prepare the young children in your care for learning to read in school.


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Last Modified: 08/31/2007