Literacy: Letter-Sounds and Phonics

Phonics instruction aims to teach students to gain an understanding of the alphabetic principle, namely that the smallest sounds in speech (phonemes) have a direct, predictable relationship to the letters of the alphabet (graphemes). Through explicit and systematic teaching, students may begin to recognize familiar words, and decode new words (PRF, p. 11).
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INSTRUCTION: This activity promotes student's understanding of the correspondence between written letters and sounds in oral language. Students review the phoneme of each tree, as well as the different letter combinations that make that sound. This activity is effective as it draws attention towards all the ways the same sound can appear in print, as well as the ways the same letter combinations can produce different sounds based on the tree it is placed in.

INSTRUCTION: This activity promotes student's understanding of the correspondence between written letters and sounds in oral language. Students review the phoneme of each tree, as well as the different letter combinations that make that sound. This activity is effective as it draws attention towards all the ways the same sound can appear in print, as well as the ways the same letter combinations can produce different sounds based on the tree it is placed in.

INSTRUCTION: In this activity, students have a card with pictures of objects. The task is to choose an object, and fish for the correct beginning consonant for the name of that object. This activity is highly engaging, and is something that students can do independently. As well, it promotes student's understanding of the relationship between letter-sounds and printed letters.

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UNDERSTANDING & INSTRUCTION: This helped deepen my understanding of phonics, as children must learn that sounds are determined by letter patterns and not individual letters (p. 60). Many useful activities are outlined in chapter 5, including "Guess the Covered Word". Students are given a sentence with a word that only contains an initial consonant. This encourages students to think about what makes sense, as well as letters and sounds, to determine the missing word.

UNDERSTANDING & INSTRUCTION Chapter 5 of Classrooms that Work (Cunningham & Allington, discusses teaching phonics and spelling patterns. Authors provide detailed guidelines to implement effective instructional strategies and activities to teach spelling.

INSTRUCTION: This activity uses Jolly Phonics to spell by using previously taught letter actions and letter-sounds. The teacher will show students the action (representing a sound) and students record that letter on a piece of paper. This activity is great as it promotes the correspondence between phonemes and written letters by asking students to recognize the sound and write the letter. As well, the activity gives students meaningful practice of writing and spelling.

INSTRUCTION: By teaching students actions that they can use to remember letter sounds, they can begin to spell words correctly and efficiently. It provides students with an awareness of the relationship between letters and their sounds.

INSTRUCTION: In this activity, the teacher reviews the different sounds vowels make and uses examples of words that contain each one. For example, the short /a/ sound in apple sounds different from the long /a/ sound in ape. This is an effective activity for phonics instruction as it reviews the hardest speech sounds in print. It is important to expose students to examples of these so that they can have ample experience that they can eventually apply to reading.

INSTRUCTION: In this activity, the teacher reviews the different sounds vowels make and uses examples of words that contain each one. For example, the short /a/ sound in apple sounds different from the long /a/ sound in ape. This is an effective activity for phonics instruction as it reviews the hardest speech sounds in print. It is important to expose students to examples of these so that they can have ample experience that they can eventually apply to reading.

ASSESSMENT: The Informal Phonics Inventory is useful as it provides a way to monitor the acquisition of specific skills, and can be used as a screening tool for more focused instruction (p. 106). The test initially uses letters to assess skills with consonant sounds, digraphs and blends, then uses real words for short vowels in CVC words and long vowel digraphs. A recording chart is included to document student's acquired skills, and provides a comprehensive view of student progress.

Assessment for Reading Instruction, Second Edition (Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy)/Michael C. McKenna, Katherine A.

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