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Play in modified learning centres on the development and transfer of phonemic awareness to kindergarten spelling Regush, Nicole

Abstract

As many as thirty percent of students graduating from high school today have poorly developed literacy skills. As recently as ten years ago, kindergarten teachers were discounting phonemic awareness as insignificant to the development of early literacy when research accredits phonemic facility as pivotal i n the process. This study was designed to modify and assess the use of learning centers as a teaching strategy to develop phonemic awareness and conventional spelling in kindergarten children. Sixteen kindergarten children served as the intervention class and fourteen children served as the control group (chronological age between 71.68 and 73.18 months, nonsignificant differences in ages). Over seven weeks, children in the intervention class interacted in three literacy-dependent learning centers. Children in the control group were not exposed to the learning centers. Based on previous research, it was hypothesized that intervention would result in an increase in phonemic skills and would transfer to, and enhance, conventional spelling. Results revealed a significant effect on phonemic awareness skills, specifically blending, sound isolation and segmenting. No significant effect was noted in spelling performance, although the intervention group manifested the greatest increases in literacy-related play and use of phonemic awareness during free play. Comparison of high-literacy and lowliteracy children suggests that the low-literacy intervention group children experienced the greatest gains (although not always significant) in phonemic skills, spelling, selection of literacy activities and use of phonemic skills during literacy activities. Further investigations would require a modification of the teaching strategy to explicitly demonstrate the transfer and application of phonemic awareness to the context of conventional spelling, a longer period of observation, and a more detailed analysis of the graphophonemic skills of the participants.

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