Effective Phonics Instruction Develops an understanding of the Alphabetic Principle; Incorporates phonemic awareness; Provides sufficient practice in reading words; Leads to automatic word recognition; Is only one part of a comprehensive reading program.
Systematic and Explicit Phonics Instruction Systematic phonics: teaching sound/spelling relationships in logical instructional sequence newly introduced skills built on existing skills tasks arranged from simplest to most complex Explicit phonics: concepts are clearly explained and skills are directly modeled requires overt explanation of tasks to students requires less inference/discovery by students See example of Explicit Phonics Sequence chart on page 175.
Approaches to Phonics Instruction Synthetic-explicit blending individual sounds into words Analogy instruction using phonograms (rime) to identify words Analytic identifying word patterns without blending individual sounds Embedded implicit instruction in context of authentic reading and writing experiences
Effective Instructional Techniques for Explicit Phonics Model “I do it” explicit clear example Lead “We do it” monitoring student response corrective feedback immediately: stop and model correct response for whole group pacing to keep students actively engaged signaling when students are to respond in unison Check “You do it”
Phonics Scope and Sequence for Reading Programs Begin with the most common sound/spellings. High-utility sound/spellings should be introduced early. Sequence moves from simple to complex. Letter/sounds introduction enables words to be formed and read as soon as possible. Sounds of letters that are easy to pronounce and blend should be introduced first. Instruction of letters having similar sounds and shapes should be separated. See Scope and Sequence of Phonic Instruction on page 178.
Decoding Regular Words Regular words are words in which each letter represents its most common sound. Approximately 50% of English words are completely regular. Struggling readers need explicit instruction in sounding out words orally and gradually moving to automatic recognition. Blending routines include: sound-by-sound, continuous, whole word, and spelling focused. See the Blending Routines chart on pages
Decodable Texts Decodable text provides opportunities for beginning readers to build confidence in reading; apply what they learn in phonics instruction; build automaticity and fluency. Decodable text is controlled text that provides reading practice with phonic elements that have been previously taught; high frequency words and irregular words; story words that may not be phonetically connected.
Phonogram Instruction Phonogram or analogy phonics instruction builds on knowledge from systematic, explicit instruction in sound/spelling correspondences. Although never the sole focus of early reading instruction, phonograms (word families) should be part of phonics instruction. Knowing phonograms helps students move from blending individual phonemes to more advanced decoding of chunks of words.
Word Work Word work helps make the abstract concepts of decoding and encoding more concrete. Word sorting: Students categorize words/pictures according to their phonetic characteristics. Elkonin boxes with letters: Students match letters to sounds in letter boxes to make words. Word building: Words are changed by substituting, inserting, or deleting letters. Dictation: Provides practice writing words that contain patterns taught in phonics lessons with sound-by-sound or whole word methods.
Phonics Research Systematic phonics instruction is more effective in teaching children to read than non-systematic phonics or no phonics instruction. Phonics instruction exerts its greatest impact on Kindergarten and first grade. Phonics instruction increases the ability to comprehend text for younger readers and older readers with disabilities. Systematic phonics instruction is effective in preventing reading problems in at-risk students, and it is effective in helping students overcome reading difficulties.
When to Assess and Intervene Phonics assessment for beginning readers focuses on the Alphabetic Principle; decoding automaticity is measured in a context-free assessment of rate of single word reading. Beginning readers, non-readers, or very weak readers need intervention in basic phonics and phonemic awareness. Older struggling readers need instruction assessment in word attack skills; assessment data is crucial to identify their skill gaps. Assessment and intervention for older readers should go beyond simple phonics. Phonics assessment includes screening, progress monitoring and diagnostics.