The Bridge: An Authentic Literacy Assessment Strategy for Individualizing and Informing Practice With Young Children With Disabilities

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Abstract

_Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?_ chant the 3- and 4-year-olds gathered for the emergent reading story time. It is Wednesday and the book has been read at least once each day this week. Today, the children confidently joined in on the repetitive phrase. Mary, a 4-year-old with autism, did not verbally participate when the other children chimed in, even when cued by the teacher's pause and inviting gaze. Mary instead bobbed her head in time with the repetitive phrase, a response captured by Helen, a classroom assistant. Helen has sticky labels for notes and pen in hand to observe and record emergent literacy advances of all the children. Later that day, during the children's rest time, Helen and Roberta reviewed the day's notes and events to better shape their plans for the next day. Helen asked Roberta, the classroom teacher, _Did you see Mary as you read today? Mary was bobbing her head in rhythm with the repetitive line from Brown Bear, Brown Bear! I was not sure at first she really was doing it, but I watched each time the line was chanted by the children, and she really was bobbing in rhythm._ _That would be a nice step forward in her phonological awareness,_ said Roberta. _Helen, tomorrow sit with Mary and when we read Brown Bear again, gently take her hands in yours and pat them on her legs in rhythm with the repeated line. Let's try that the next several times we read the book and see what happens. Also, pay attention during circle time when we greet the children by clapping the syllables in their names. See if Mary is bobbing with the syllables as the other children clap. Maybe she's been showing us in her way that she hears the rhythms in language. Let's get her literacy portfolio and make sure we document this!_ Roberta retrieved Mary's literacy portfolio, turned to the section on phonological-phonemic awareness and placed Helen's note in the file: _Mary bobbed her head in rhythm each time that the repetitive phrase `Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?' was read during circle time, 3/23/07._ _You know, Helen, according to the Bridge Rating Scale, the next skill Mary should exhibit will be naming or identifying sounds in the environment._ Roberta thought about Mary's limited language and realized she will probably not be naming sounds very soon. Roberta suggested to Helen, _Let's make a very small, four-picture sound lotto game using her picture board and get Joey to play with her tomorrow. I've noticed Joey playing side by side with Mary at the sand table. Maybe, with our support, they would play an abbreviated listening game together._ Roberta added, _Mary's mom will be so pleased to hear about what you saw today. Make sure we pass on some suggestions for using repeated lines and listening games for home too, since Mary might be ready for plenty of sound and rhythm play._ _Maybe we could make a sound lotto board for Mary to use with home sounds too,_ suggested Helen.

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