INTEGRATING THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS INTO INTERACTIVE, ONLINE EARLY LITERACY PROGRAMS

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1 INTEGRATING THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS INTO INTERACTIVE, ONLINE EARLY LITERACY PROGRAMS By Dr. Kay MacPhee President/Founder Ooka Island, Inc. 1

2 Integrating the Common Core Standards into Interactive, Online Early Literacy Programs by Kay MacPhee, President/Founder Ooka Island, Inc. Executive Summary It is critical to start early if children are to develop the skills they need to be successful. Research evidence confirms the strong connection between early skill development and later reading success. Early childhood (age 5 and under) is earning. Children who develop more literacy skills in the preschool years perform better in the primary grades. Providing young children with the critical precursor skills to reading can offer a path to improving overall achievement. It is well known that various forms of entertainment storytelling, interactivity, singing, etc. can serve to keep children engaged while learning. A program that can effectively incorporate a spectrum of entertainment methods can keep children interested and engaged through a challenging educational process such as learning how to read. Critical Early Literacy Skills for Learning How to Read In 2009, the National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) reported spoken and written words is related to later achievement in reading, writing and spelling. Even before children start school, they can become aware of systematic patterns of sounds in spoken language, manipulate sounds in words, recognize words and break them apart into smaller units. They can learn the relationship between sounds and letters as they build their oral language and vocabulary skills. According to NELP, some early literacy skills appear to be more important than others in getting children ready for learning how to read. Among the most important skills are: Alphabet knowledge: Knowing about the names and sounds associated with printed letters Phonological awareness: Being able to detect, manipulate or analyze the auditory aspects of spoken language, e.g., break words apart into smaller sound units (syllables or phonemes) and add or delete sound units Rapid automatized naming: Being able to quickly name a sequence of random letters, numbers, objects and colors Phonological memory: Remembering content of spoken language for a short period of time 2

3 It became clear to those in the education field that the need for policy had arrived. In fact, results of the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress tell us that more than one- third of 4th graders read so poorly they cannot complete their schoolwork successfully. NELP concluded that leadership and advocacy from informed policymakers was needed to establish an early literacy initiative founded on age- appropriate learning goals and standards aligned with those already in place for reading in the later grades. Published in 2010, these standards came to be known as the Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI) produced a common core of state standards in English language arts and mathematics for grades K- 12, developed by a committee of U.S. state governors and commissioners of education. The CCSI is a state- led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and clear, consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people The Common Core Standards define general, cross- disciplinary literacy expectations to be met for students to best prepare for academic advancement and, ultimately, readiness for real- world success. There are two main categories of Common Core Standards: Mathematics and, more relevant to this particular discussion, English Language Arts (ELA). Common Core Standards: English Language Arts The Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) articulate grade- level expectations in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing to prepare all students to be college and career ready, including English language learners. English Language Arts are divided into several subcategories that combine to serve as the building blocks for fluent reading. An Integrated Model of Literacy Although the Standards are divided into Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language strands for conceptual clarity, the processes of communication are closely connected, intertwined, and by no means mutually exclusive of one another. For example, writing about something that was recently read requires the ability to process 3

4 information. Likewise, speaking and listening standards set expectations that students will share findings from a reading and be able to have a back- and- forth discussion regarding it. T 12 grade- specific standards define end- of- year expectations and a cumulative progression designed to enable students to meet college and career readiness expectations no later than the end of high school. Students - specific standards, retain or further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades, and work steadily toward meeting the general expectations laid out in the Standards. A Focus on Results Rather Than Means By emphasizing required achievements, the Common Core Standards leave room for teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed. Thus, the Standards do not mandate such things as a particular writing process or the full range of metacognitive strategies that students may need to monitor and direct their thinking and learning. Teachers are thus free to provide students with whatever tools and knowledge their professional judgment and experience identify as most helpful for meeting the goals set out in the Standards. Meeting the Common Core Standards, then, can be performed through an infinite number of avenues so long as the destination the Standards themselves is reached. Varying means of instilling these vital Standards, then, are recognized as viable tools toward a common purpose. On this note, Ooka Island Adventure was built upon a well- known rule of thumb in teaching young children: kids whose interests are piqued will stay engaged and be motivated to keep learning. Integrating the Common Core Standards into an Online Early Literacy Program Currently in development by Ooka Island Inc., the Ooka Island Adventure online literacy game is poised to become the only comprehensive, early literacy program offered exclusively through technology for children ages 3-7. Through visually- appealing, interactive game levels that require cumulative reading- relevant skills, Ooka Island Adventure entertains as it educates, serving to keep young readers and readers- to- be engaged and learning. In doing so, the game guides children through all of the steps needed to become fluent readers, using alignment with the Common Core Standards as a guideline much like a teacher instructing through progressively challenging texts would. 4

5 Likewise, early readers learn and utilize reading skills in order to advance through the game, which addresses many of the objectives in the first two years of the Common Core Standards, namely kindergarten and grade 1. For the purposes of this topic, it is worth listing those Common Core Standards that, through progressive, cumulative game levels, Ooka Island Adventure helps young readers- in- training meet. These are for English Language Arts Foundation Skills and Literature. The Common Core Standards in these categories for Kindergarten and Grade 1 are: Foundation Skills (Kindergarten) Print Concepts 1. Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print. a. Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page. b. Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters. c. Understand that words are separated by spaces in print. d. Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet. Phonological Awareness 2. Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). a. Recognize and produce rhyming words. b. Pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words. c. Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single- syllable spoken words. d. Isolate and pronounce (identify) the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three- phoneme (consonant- vowel- consonant, or CVC) words. (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.) Phonics and Word Recognition 3. Know and apply grade- level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. Fluency a. Demonstrate basic knowledge of one- to- one letter- sound correspondences by producing the primary or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant. b. Associate the long and short sounds with common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels. c. Read common high- frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does). 4. Read emergent- reader texts with purpose and understanding. 5

6 Foundation Skills (Grade 1) Print Concepts 1. Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print. a. Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word capitalization, ending punctuation). Phonological Awareness 2. Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). a. Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single- syllable words. b. Orally produce single- syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including consonant blends. c. Isolate and pronounce (identify) initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in spoken single- syllable words. d. Segment spoken single- syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds (phonemes). Phonics and Word Recognition 3. Know and apply grade- level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. a. Decode regularly spelled one- syllable words. b. Know final - e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds. c. Decode two- syllable words following basic patterns by breaking the words into syllables. d. Read words with inflectional endings. e. Recognize and read grade- appropriate irregularly spelled words. Literature (Kindergarten) Key Ideas and Details 1. With prompting and support, answer questions about key details in a text. 2. With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details 3. With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story. Craft and Structure 4. Answer questions about unknown words in a text. 5. With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story. 6

7 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 6. With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories. Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity 7. Actively engage in reading activities with purpose and understanding. Reading Standards for Literature (Grade 1) Print Concepts 1. Ask questions about key details in a text. 2. Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson. Craft and Structure 3. Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 4. Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events. 5. Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories. Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity 6. With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1. Like the Common Core Standards themselves, progression through Ooka Island Adventure requires early readers to learn information, utilize that information, and then build upon that information incrementally as the advancing levels become continue their captivating journey an instant reward for knowledge gained and lessons learned. Following are six examples of how experiences in Ooka Island Adventure match up with Common Core Standards reading skills. 7

8 Alphabet Mountain Children help their characters climb Alphabet Mountain through letter recognition, and sequencing, which aligns with kindergarten level CCS Foundation Skill: Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet. Popcorn Library As children complete books in the Popcorn Library, their reading comprehension is fostered and assessed in ways that align with kindergarten level CCS Literature Skills: (1) With prompting and support, answer questions about key details in a text. (2) With prompting and support, identify characters, settings and major events in a story. 8

9 Popcorn Library Children also are asked to retell the story and demonstrate understanding of the main idea, which aligns with kindergarten and grade 1 CCS Reading Standards for Literature: (1) With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details. (Kindergarten) (2) Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson. (Grade 1) Bubbly Trubbly Z- Doo In Bubbly Trubbly and Z- Doo, children must recognize (Bubbly Trubbly) and produce sounds (Z- Doo), for vowels and consonants, which aligns with kindergarten level CCS Foundational Skill: Demonstrate basic knowledge of one- to- one letter sound correspondence by producing primary or most frequent sounds for each consonant. (Vowels are also included in the activities.) 9

10 Clumsy Wacky In the game Clumsy Wacky, activities align with kindergarten CCS Foundational Skills: (1) Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single- syllables spoken words. (2) Recognize and produce rhyming words. Cake Factory Activities involving decorating cakes at the Cake Factory, align with kindergarten and grade 1 level CCS Foundational Skills: (1) Associate the long and short sounds with common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels. (Kindergarten) (2) Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single- syllable words. (Grade 1) 10

11 Conclusion By combining an engaging, game- like program and alignment with the Common Core Standards, Ooka Island Adventure will become a viable, valuable tool in helping to teach young children (ages 3-7) to read. Literacy in early childhood has proven to be a telling sign of a child's academic success in advancing through elementary school and beyond; therefore it is important to start early in building a foundation of literacy to best ensure a child's academic success. Ooka Island Adventure is grounded in science. It is an innovative teaching tool designed with government- sponsored reading standards - ones that were founded upon thorough research and sound statistics - in mind. It is the only fully online program for children 3-7 years of age to extensively integrate these standards for the benefit of early childhood readers. characters and in advancing through the various levels; in turn, they become invested in forming a vital foundation to become fluent, comprehensive readers. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Kay MacPhee is a lifelong educator who has devoted her life to teaching the key literacy skills needed to form the foundation for education. Her knowledge, passion and commitment have helped countless individuals become strong readers. Dr. MacPhee co- - anticipated online game. Inspired by her son who was born profoundly deaf, Dr. MacPhee a former principal and teacher spent 25 years developing techniques enabling the hearing- impaired to form language skills and learn how to read. She spent years continuously modifying and advancing her approach to literacy instruction and, in 1994, launched SpellRead TM, a reading intervention program designed to aid struggling readers of all ages. The program t Works Clearinghouse. Dr. MacPhee combines her extensive experience as an educator and researcher with her knowledge of curriculum development to build the unique methodology and educational concepts behind Ooka Island. The innovative prevention program is designed to benefit all early readers, not just those with special needs. Dr. MacPhee is a highly- accomplished professional with specialized accreditations from several educational institutions. She earned both her Honorary Doctorate Degree as well as h University of Prince Edward Island. She also completed extensive course work in the area of speech and language at McGill University in Montreal and Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. For more information about Ooka Island, Inc. please call or visit 11

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