First Year Teacher Self-Study Course

First Year Teacher is a self-paced professional development course for novice K-3 teachers, developed by Reading Rockets. The program provides teachers with an in-depth knowledge of reading so they are prepared to guide their students into becoming skilled and enthusiastic readers.

Photo of teacher and students

Print Awareness: In Practice

Guidelines for promoting print awareness

  • Make sure students know how books are organized. They should be taught the basics about books — that they are read from left to right and top to bottom, that print may be accompanied by pictures or graphics, that the pages are numbered, and that the purpose of reading is to gain meaning from the text and understand ideas that words convey.
  • Read to children from books with easy-to-read large print. Use stories that have predictable words in the text.
  • Use \"big books\" to help children notice and learn to recognize words that occur frequently, such as a, the, is, was, and you.
  • Label objects in your classroom.
  • Encourage preschool children to play with print. They can pretend to write a shopping list, construct a stop sign, write a letter, make a birthday card, etc.
  • Help children understand the relationship between spoken and written language.
  • Reinforce the forms and functions of print found in classroom signs, labels, posters, calendars, and so forth.
  • Teach and reinforce print conventions such as print directionality (print is written and read from left to right), word boundaries, capital letters, and end punctuation.
  • Teach and reinforce book awareness and book handling.
  • Promote word awareness by helping children identify word boundaries and compare words.
  • Allow children to practice what they are learning by listening to and participating in the reading of predictable and patterned stories and books.
  • Provide practice with predictable and patterned books.
  • Provide many opportunities for children to hear good books and to participate in read-aloud activities.

Excerpted from: Guidelines for Examining Phonics and Word Recognition Programs, Texas Reading Initiative, Texas Education Agency (2002); Tips for Teaching Kids to Read; by Ed Kame'enui, Marilyn Adams, & G. Reid Lyon

Pre-Reader Assessment

Watch how this teacher assesses where this pre-reader is with concepts of print and letter recognition.

Print Awareness: In Practice

Assessing Print Awareness

  • the front of the book
  • the title of the book
  • where you should begin reading
  • a letter
  • a word
  • the first word of a sentence
  • the last word of a sentence
  • the first and last word on a page
  • punctuation marks
  • a capital letter
  • a lowercase letter
  • the back of the book
Diary of a First Year Teacher

Diary of a First Year Teacher

Join Barbara Zielinski, a first grade teacher at River Plaza Elementary School in Middletown, NJ, during her first year teaching.

"Writing is thinking on paper. " — William Zinsser