Summary of Instructional Problem
Phonological skills are the smallest units of sound. Every word is made up by various phonological sounds. These sounds are strung together to help make up words (Torgesen & Mathes, 1998). Possessing the phonological skills such as rhyming, blending sounds, substituting sounds, and recognizing onset and rhime allows a student to be able to translate all the symbols we call an alphabet into sounds to create words. Phonological awareness is also a major component of any successful reading program.
In the kindergarten classroom students come to me in the fall and are struggling with phonological awareness skills. Many of these children do not possess the basic phonetic skills such as rhyming. The purpose of the needs assessment is to determine if these skills are lacking in all classrooms in the district that I work in, to determine if all instructors understand the value in educating the students, and the importance of these skills for beginning kindergarteners.
Current Conditions and Desired Conditions
Kindergarten students spend all year struggling with their phonological awareness skills. A large portion of time should be spent on how to teach children how to rhyme blend sounds, substitute sounds, and recognize onset and rhime. Students should be coming into kindergarten possessing at least the basic phonetic skills of rhyming. These basic skills are lacking when entering the classroom in the fall. Without these essential skills children have a much more difficult time becoming fluent readers. When students lack phonological processing skills children are often times predisposed to reading disabilities (Institute for Education Reform, 1997). These skills needed to become the foundation for the students. Possessing all of these skills requires specific instruction in order to learn them. Time must be taken to master them.
Phonological skills need to be specifically taught at the beginning of the year to help build a foundation for these students. Some students come into kindergarten as readers, but lack many important phonological skills. Teachers must spend a large portion of their time teaching and assessing these skills to make certain that they are at the core of learning to read. Spending adequate time with learning the simplest of skills such as rhyming through nursery rhymes and having the students enjoy learning is fundamental. After mastering rhyming they must move on to the more intense phonological awareness skills such as substituting and deletion of sounds. Seeing the students come in to kindergarten with stronger phonological skills would be helpful but not always possible. Kindergarten students should be exposed to all the different phonological skills in the beginning of kindergarten to allow them a strong foundation for learning how to read.
Data Collection Processes
Discussion of Data Collection Instruments Used