Friday, August 30, 2013

Should All Kindergartners Know Their Letters by Halloween?

As children and teachers head back to school, this is a timely and interesting post by Peter DeWitt.  Should All Kindergartners Know Their Letters by Halloween?  Parents, teachers (especially literacy specialists) should read this.

DeWitt refers to Dr. Richard Allington (formerly at SUNY Albany, U of F) and now at the University of Tennessee, who says that  that all students, regardless of poverty level and past experience, should know their letters by Halloween of kindergarten.  Allington suggests Ann McGill-Frazen's book Kindergarten Literacy (Scholastic) holds the answers.

Allington also says that many students don't benefit from pull-out AIS sessions by someone else, but might benefit from different instruction in their classroom. Allington criticizes fragmented learning where students who are pulled out use a different reading program.

These are hard, fast guidelines to make.  If we truly differentiate and embrace learning diversity there will be differences in what students learn and what they need.  Sometimes, they will not know all their letters until March and sometimes, they are better off trying a new way of learning to read.  While I hope Allington is challenging us, rather than chastising us, with his guidelines, I know he is causing me to rethink what I do and challenging me to ask more of my students.  Sigh.  I really like Dick Allington and Peter DeWitt because even if I do not always agree with everything they say, they challenge me to think and reflect deeply on my own and my school's teaching and learning practices.   


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