Do We Need the Alphabet? Yes!

I recently had a discussion with a SLP from a district I used to work with about literacy and AAC users with complex communication needs.  She knows just how strongly I feel about teaching these students - and all students - literacy skills and literacy competency.

alphabet access for literacy instruction

I recommended that she read Erickson and Koppenhaver’s book on the topic; “Comprehensive Literacy  for All.” (this is an affiliate link)  The book covers a lot of information that they have been talking about for a number of years and, thus, a lot of information she has heard me share in trainings over the years, but also provides a lot of new information and ideas that are important. And certainly does so better than I can reasonably do.

One of the points the book makes that is important for teachers and SLPs to hear is about the importance of access to the alphabet - all 26 letters all the time.  The strongest predictor of learning to read is alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness. 

Letter names help students map sounds to speech.  The authors identify 4 main tasks: letter name identification, letter-sound identification, identification of the letter in text and production of the letter form.

Identify the letter in both upper and lower case.  Identify the sound that the letter makes.  recognize the letter when it appears in text.  And product the letter - write it - even if that is done with an alternative pencil.

And they knock that old favorite - the letter of the week - on its head; pointing out that research shows this practice to be not at all helpful.

Some ideas for activities? How about alphabet books? Students naming and writing their names? Any environmental print. Nursery rhymes and poems and jump rope rhymes. Books with alliteration. The alphabet is all around us. Revel in it.

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