Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Like to Move It, Move It

Today I was able to participate in an in-service for Phonics Dance, a program our first and second grade teachers use to help students learn to associate sounds with letters, and therefore become better readers and writers.

Being an SLP, and having assisted one of my grad school site supervisors in teaching the program Sounds In Motion to one of our kindergarten classes, I was very curious to see the difference between the two programs. 

Sounds in Motion was created by Frances Santore, a speech language pathologist, and we use it at my school for kindergarten students.  It, like Phonics Dance, uses movement to help students associate sounds with letters.  Sounds in Motion teaches body movements that are based on the following characteristics of each speech sound: pitch; duration; tension; place of the articulators in space; and intensity.  It is a 15 week program co-taught by the speech pathologist and classroom teacher, and it helps students learn whole-body listening, articulation, phonemic awareness, and letter/sound association.   I can say from experience that my students love the program because they learn to make movements with each sound (i.e. /p/ is opening and closing your hands up in a popping motion like popcorn popping while you say the /p/ phoneme).

Phonics Dance, however, does things a little differently.  It also has an introductory component to help students in kindergarten learn to associate sounds with the letters of the alphabet.  It is taught by pairing motions with chants (do a quick Youtube search for phonic dance and you will see a plethora of videos teachers have made of their classes doing the dance/chant).   Two sounds are taught each week (just like with Sounds in Motion).  We went through all of the chants and motions using a PowerPoint that can be shown to students on a SmartBoard (or posters are also available at the Phonics Dance site).  In first grade, students also begin to “hunk and chunk” letters that are paired together throughout the English language that when combined make a new sound (i.e. /sh/, /ch/, /th/, /eigh/).  Students learn the new sound these hunk and chunks make through the daily motion and chant, as well as through daily mini-worksheets where they learn to circle the hunk and chunk and underline word endings (i.e. –at, ash) and blends (fl, gr, etc.).  This process trains their brains to begin to chunk common sounds and improve reading and writing skills using the patterns in the words instead of trying to phonetically sound each individual letter sound in the word.  This program lasts all year, and once the sounds and hunk and chunks are taught, you go through the whole chant of every thing they have learned every day. 

So how do we as SLPs fit in to these classroom-based interventions? I like both programs, and I’m grateful my district uses these programs because these are great RTI interventions that can give those students who have one or two articulation errors an intervention to assist in learning their sounds.  Both have research to support their programs, and both are fun, movement based programs that lend themselves to co-teaching opportunities and collaboration with classroom teachers.  I am curious to see how my kindergarten students will do with learning Sounds in Motion and then switching to Phonics Dance in first and second grade as each program teaches different motions.  I will also say I was impressed with some of the Extension Lessons included with Phonics Dance because I can use them with my students who have goals for plurals, past tense verbs, and possessive nouns, as the activities relate these skills with the sounds made.  I look forward to using the motions students have learned in class as one more tool in my toolkit when my sweeties come for therapy. 

Have you used either of these programs?


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