Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Facilitating Emergent Literacy Skills: A Literature-Based, Multiple Intelligence Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Facilitating Emergent Literacy Skills: A Literature-Based, Multiple Intelligence Approach

Article excerpt

Abstract. Educators have continually sought to achieve a balance between a phonics-based, code-emphasis program and a more holistic, meaning-based approach to emergent literacy instruction. This article describes an integrated phonics and literature-based approach to developing children's emergent literacy skills. These skills included alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness, phonics and nonsense word competence, and language usage. Using Howard Gardner's (1983) theory of multiple intelligence, the program's literacy activities addressed children's interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, musical, naturalistic, and visual-spatial abilities and interests. Stories from children's trade books were told in a variety of storytelling methods, such as draw talk, character imagery, felt board, group role play, and chant. These approaches were matched to children's interests and multiple intelligence areas. All of the storytelling sessions were followed by related activities that incorporated the children's emergent literacy skills. Results from this study of 13 inner-city children indicated that this integrated, seven-week program resulted in significant gains in phonemic awareness, nonsense word competence, and word usage fluency. The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) was used as a pretest and a posttest to assess children's initial and later competence on the basic emergent literacy skills. Implications for further research on this integrated approach are discussed.

**********

Children who are at risk for reading failure manifest many common early characteristics or warning signs. Recent research studies indicate that phonemic awareness and letter knowledge are highly correlated with later reading accuracy and fluency (Adams, 1990; Chall, 1967, 1983). Other important skills that may predict later reading success or failure include those that fall under the oral language category. These oral language skills include such aspects as vocabulary knowledge, grammatical understanding and usage, and story retelling skills (Torgesen, 2004). Most children who enter school at risk for difficulties with learning to read manifest difficulties in both more specific phonological and print-related domain, as well as in the broader oral language knowledge domain (Torgesen, 2004). For students at risk, the primary goals should be in phonological awareness, alphabetic principle, and accuracy and fluency with connected text (Chall, 1983; Good & Kaminski, 2002). Children who are at risk for later school difficulties require specialized support in their acquisition of these early literacy skills in order to make adequate progress in formal reading.

One form of effective specialized services includes systematic and regular intervention using a sound/symbol (code-emphasis) program (Chall, 1967, 1983). Another contrasting, yet potentially complementary, form of specialized support draws from Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence (Armstrong, 2003; Gardner, 1983). According to Gardner (1983), a blending of the eight areas of multiple intelligence must be present for significant learning to occur. Clay (1991) reinforced the theory of connecting one type of learning with another, stating that "meaning is the most important source of information" (p. 292). When a systematic, phonics-based approach is combined with a meaning and literature-based, multiple intelligence approach, children are afforded opportunities to make emotional connections to the texts and activities. Such connections facilitate children's attention span, memory, processing skills, and comprehension (Armstrong, 2003; Brand & Donato, 2001a).

Multiple intelligence theory is gaining widespread recognition as a useful approach to ensuring that the diverse needs of all children are addressed in curricular planning and implementing. As educators plan literacy strategies for normally functioning and at-risk emerging readers, Gardner's theory provides guidelines to them as they shape the content and activities in individualized, stimulating, and custom-tailored ways. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.