Posts Tagged ‘phonics’

One of my favorite decoding strategies to use in 1st and 2nd grade is to teach kids to “Try the Other Sound.” I first read about this strategy in a Reading Teacher article many years ago. We made an anchor chart showing the short and long vowel sounds, and then we applied this strategy to a new poem in shared reading. We tell kids to “try the other sound” of the vowel when the first sound they try doesn’t make sense. We also posted an “Essential Question” on the easel to remind students of the focus of today’s lesson.

The class tries "Try the Other Sound" as they read a new poem together in shared reading.

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Often, primary teachers have many phonics materials available in their classrooms. One teacher I worked with had write-on cutouts for students to use for working with word families. These are good materials for literacy work stations. However, don’t put out too much at once. And differentiate the materials so the right kids are working with the right word study patterns.

Here are photos of materials we recently sorted (and color-coded) for students in kindergarten (or grade 1):

Dont put out all the phonics charts at once. Less is more!

These word study patterns are the easiest ones from the set. Use these with students reading easier books at DRA levels 5-6.

Other students at DRA levels 5-6 might use these cards with more challenging patterns after they show mastery of easier ones.

For kids working at DRA levels 3-4, provide CVC activities, such as these write the CVC word picture cards with Elkonin boxes or Word Sliders from Lakeshore (after youve taught with them in small group).

For kids working at DRA levels 1-3, have them do sound sorts. Start with beginning sounds. Then move to ending sounds, Finally students can sort pictures by middle sound, as shown at this pocket chart station.

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What a joy it was to work with K-2 teachers at Pleasant View Elementary in Red Lion, PA right around Thanksgiving. We spent two days together planning and teaching small group reading lessons. We worked with the same groups two days in a row, so teachers could experience how to plan for connected lessons. The kindergarten group read a little book titled Fruit Salad and did interactive writing one day; the next day they reread the book and wrote a page independently about the book. Our focus was phonological and phonemic awareness and helping students apply what they know about sounds to reading and writing.

In 1st grade, the group read The Hungry Puppy, and worked on using word parts to decode words. I used puzzle pieces made from laminated sentence strips to help kids look at word parts and blending those parts together to read new words.

Our 2nd grade lessons focused on helping children “try the other sound” when decoding. These students were often using the short vowel sound to decode, but weren’t flexible in trying the long vowel sound if the short one didn’t make a word that makes sense. Our prompt was, “Try the other sound and make it make sense.” Students read part of a nonfiction book titled Eggs in this lesson. One day we created a “Try the Other Sound” chart of short and long vowel sounds in whole group because most students in the classroom needed this strategy. Then we helped one group apply this in small group the next day using small copies of that larger anchor chart.

Although our lessons focused mostly on phonics over these two days, this was what the groups we worked with needed. We included a “phonics warmup” before students read or wrote. For more ideas on these phonics warmups and information on how to choose a focus in small group instruction, see my book, Making the Most of Small Groups.

Counting the number of words in a sentence the kindergarteners will write together

Puzzle parts made of laminated sentence strip are used in a "phonics warmup" before kids read in this small group

Second graders read their "Try the Other Sound" charts together as a "phonics warmup" before they read the nonfiction book, Eggs

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The long-awaited book, Beyond the Names Chart: Using Children’s Names for Word Study, has just been published by Really Good Stuff. This book is for K-2 and shows how to use kids’ names to help them learn phonics skills. Check it out!
Here’s a picture from Denver Public Schools showing a names work station in kindergarten.

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