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LETRS assessment

Reading | Literature 

Izzy23

Senior Member
This is so stupid of me, but...

My district required all teachers to take the LETRS course on the science of reading. I think it's a good course and I have learned a lot. However, at the end of Unit 2, we had to take a final assessment. I got one question wrong. It is driving me NUTS that I can't figure out what the correct answer is supposed to be. The answer was not given to us, I can't find it anywhere online, and I could not find it anywhere in the book.

This is the question (I'm paraphrasing because I don't remember exactly):


The use of nonsense words when teaching phonemic awareness is:

1. Only occasionally recommended in sound chains

2. Useful for teaching ELL students

3. Never recommended

4. Useful for children with weak vocabularies.


Anyone know the answer? Please!
 
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Haley23

Senior Member
I took LETRS 2 years ago. I've done a lot of similar trainings so I may be mixing up information, but I'm almost positive the answer is 3, since the question says "teaching" with nonsense words. Most SOR programs/trainings say that nonsense words aren't supposed to be used for instruction, only for assessment.

2 and 4 would be reasons you wouldn't use nonsense words. They're confusing for ELL students as well as other students with weaker vocabularies.

The only other one that might be correct (although I don't think so) is 1, if there was something specific you learned about using nonsense word chains in the unit. If you don't recall learning something like that (I don't) then I wouldn't think that is the correct answer either.
 

all41

Senior Member
I pulled out my LETRS manual and I believe my original answer is incorrect. If the question asked is as poster wrote then the answer would be 3.

Yes, Haley is correct when she says nonsense words should not be used, or used sparingly, with ELL students and those with low vocabularies. Real words should be used in practice. I was not correct in my reasoning when I originally answered this question.
 

Izzy23

Senior Member
Okay, I know the answer is not #4, because that was my answer and it was incorrect! LOL.

all41 pointed me to a page in the manual that says nonsense words "must" be used "occasionally" in sound chains for transitions -- I'm assuming because there's no other change that can be made and so you have to. The manual says to use nonsense words "sparingly" for ELL or students with poor vocabularies.

So I now think the answer is #1, because that is the only time you should use them. It doesn't say to never use them. Just to use them occasionally, if you have to.

My original instinct was to say #3, because I thought you should never use them. But when I taught pre-K, we sometimes used silly, made-up words to teach rhymes, so I thought it couldn't be #3 and didn't pick that as my original answer.

Honestly, I still don't know what LETRS thinks the right answer is. But I think they should re-write their test question, because it is not very clear!
 

all41

Senior Member
I agree that it is not a very clear question and answer set. In my mind 'must be used occasionally' has a very different meaning than 'occasionally recommended' as it is worded in answer 1. Must be used does not mean the same as recommended. I know you were paraphrasing the question and answer choices so maybe it was more clear on the assessment, but it still seems to come down to how each question and answer choice is interpreted.
 
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Haley23

Senior Member
Now that you say that, it sounds vaguely familiar. So the answer must be number 1. I do word chains with my students, but I always make sure to work things to where I can use a real word every time. I guess it's easier because I tend to be working on very basic skills- maybe if you're working on much more complex words it's harder to make a real word every time.

I remember how challenging those LETRS assessments were. The questions were often on super specific, minute details and I often had to search back in my book to find the answers. I was always so stressed taking them because you had to get a certain score and the way the questions were worded, I wasn't always 100% sure even if I was looking back in the book.
 
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