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Direct instruction teaching methods have been found to promote the acquisition of literacy in developing readers. Equally important, learning strategies that allow children to construct knowledge through active participation increase their motivation for reading and writing. This action research was designed to explore the effectiveness of direct instruction with playful extensions in developing emergent literacy in a kindergarten classroom. The intent of the project was to connect developmentally appropriate practices with direct instruction teaching. The systematic approach of Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) was followed using only the teacher directed lessons; playful extensions of the PALS lessons were integrated throughout to maintain the children's interest and to provide motivation for learning. Results indicated that the students who initially were the lowest performers in letter-sound correspondence and writing performance made the greatest gains in identifying letters-sounds and in applying letter-sound knowledge to making spelling approximations in writing. Kindergarten students with the highest academic abilities made the greatest gains in sight word recognition.

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