Phonics Instruction

Teaching children to read is a complex process. What should our goals be for early reading instruction?  I think most would agree that our goals should be automatic word recognition (fluency), comprehension of text and developing a love of reading. 

To become skilled readers our students must be able to identify words quickly and accurately and to do that they must be able to decode words. 
Your students need to use a number of strategies when decoding words.
You can get these decoding strategy posters here.
To decode words our students try a number of ways to read the words.  They think about the story, use context clues, ask themselves what would make sense and they sound out words.  To sound out a word or to stretch the sounds out, students must be able to associate a specific spelling with a specific sound.

Phonics involves this relationship between 
sounds and their spellings.
So what do the experts say?

-Phonics instruction can help all students learn to read.
-Readers who are skilled in decoding usually comprehend text better. (Just think about it if you spend all your time decoding, fluency is lost and comprehension suffers.)
-Systematic, explicit (direct) teaching of phonics is better than implicit instruction.  Implicit instruction has readers “discovering” clues about sound spelling relationships and poor readers are not likely to do this.
-Phonics instruction improves spelling ability
-Phonics knowledge has a powerful effect on decoding ability
My beginning letter sounds pocket chart can be found in my phonics-sounds pocket chart bundle,
or by itself here.

-Phonemic awareness is necessary for phonics instruction to be effective. Before your students can use a knowledge of sound spelling relationships to decode words, they must understand that words are made up of sounds.

What teachers can do to help their students.

Keep it simple.

Teach phonics in a systematic and explicit way.

Be sure to begin the systematic and explicit phonics instruction early.

Don’t overdo phonics instruction. A little phonics instruction can go a long way.

Help students understand the purpose of phonics by engaging them in reading and writing activities that requires them to apply the phonics information you've taught them.

Phonics instruction should focus on applying learned sound-spelling relationships to actual reading, with smaller amounts of time spent on learning phonics rules or generalizations and out of context work. 

How I teach phonics to my first graders.
In my multiage classroom we have word work time.  This time of day I have all the youngers or first graders in my classroom.  This is when I explicitly teach phonics to a whole group of students.  Of course I also meet this need during guided reading groups.  I have a very short time to teach these youngsters the relationship between the sounds and their spelling patterns so my lessons are usually quick and to the point.  I love using my pocket chart as my students do a lot of interacting with the chart during the lesson and during their center times. I have researched many scope and sequence programs and they are very similar in the order in which to teach the different sounds to students.  I also have just begun creating monthly phonics lessons for my students. You may want to check out the growing bundle here.

This is a quick preview of September and October phonics lessons.

As you can see many of the lessons at the beginning of the year involve phonemic awareness instruction.  

Here is a quick preview of Novembers lessons.

 As I said the growing bundle is in the works.  Here is the catch if you purchase it now you will save a lot while I work on the lessons.
Here is how the growing bundle works.

I have my work cut out for me, but I am excited to offer engaging hands on lessons that teach phonics skills.  
Any questions just ask.
Happy teaching!

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