3 Tips For Building Phonemic Awareness

Recently, in the education world, there has been a lot of talk about phoneme awareness and its importance in reading instruction - with good reason! As classroom reading instruction shifts, finding ways to bridge the research to instructional practices is crucial. But with this comes a need to understand what the research means for our work and our students. 

There is widespread agreement that phoneme awareness skills such as perceiving sounds in speech, isolating sounds, and blending and segmenting words are the foundation for learning to read and write. A National Reading Panel in-depth review of 52 phonemic awareness articles found that explicitly teaching phonemic awareness directly impacts children's reading significantly more than instruction without any attention to phonemic awareness. This evidence was so clear that they recommended that explicit phonemic awareness instruction be a part of classroom reading instruction beginning in preschool.  

Looking at the...

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Why Word Chaining Should Be A Part Of Every Literacy Lesson

orthographic mapping Feb 18, 2022

Word chaining and the building of words should be a part of every literacy lesson for beginning readers. When students build words based on the sound symbols explicitly taught, they engage in the orthographic mapping process, which is essential for reading and writing. This linking of speech-to-print is critical for learning to read, and it's fun! Students can participate in hands-on manipulation of letters to create, read, and manipulate new words.

Why is it essential to link sound to letters?

This mapping of speech to print can immediately unlock reading for children. How wonderful is that?! 

Dr. Martin Kozloff (2002) stated, "If a child memorized ten words, the child can only read ten words, but if a child learns the sounds of ten letters, the child will be able to read 350 three-sound words, 4,320 four-sound words, and 21,650 five-sound words."

There is no guessing when one can map the speech sounds to the representation within our orthographic system....

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Three Ways to Use an Alphabet Arc for Word Building, Part 3


Today's blog is part 3 of a 3 part series on word-building tasks you can incorporate into your lessons using your alphabet arc. If you missed part 1 or part 2 of the series, click each link to learn additional skills to build with the alphabet arc. 

Practice makes permanent! This saying is something that I come back to often as I reflect on my lessons. Am I providing enough practice for my students to solidify their learning and gain automaticity in word reading? We know that the brain needs to make new neural pathways to convert our oral language to the linguistic code as there is no specific reading center in the brain. It's hard work! 

Children who are learning to read need to spend time decoding - the practice of linking speech sounds to print. This decoding work is the heavy lifting that needs to occur during reading instruction to allow for the orthographic mapping process to occur. 

Orthographic mapping is the process that we use to become...

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Things You Might Not Know About Liquids, Glides, and Combinations


Hi friends! This week I'm finishing up our review of the consonant sound groupings. If you are working on implementing a sound wall or shifting your approach to teaching phonics, then this is a great review.

We now understand that sound production and mouth formations are key to helping students link the phonemes, those sounds that they hear, to the graphemes, which are the letter representations of those spoken sounds. They also provide students and teachers with cues for error corrections. Explicitly teaching these to our students provides them with the knowledge and ability to analyze sounds in a deeper way. These articulatory gestures are grouped by stops, fricatives, nasals, affricates, liquids, glides, and combinations. You can find the whole series through the links at the end of this post.

In this week's post and video, we're going to be reviewing liquids, glides, and combinations. Liquids are those sounds that seem to float in our mouth. They influence the vowels that...

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The Connection Between Decoding and Encoding - Part 2

Hi, friends! Last week, I discussed the importance of connecting speech to print and how that relates to spelling instruction. Did you miss last week's post? Click here to read that first. In summary, we can think of reading and spelling as reciprocal skills. Reading, or decoding, is applying the sound-symbol relationships and successfully blending them to read a word. Spelling is the other side of the coin. It is the ability to segment words by individual sounds and use the correct sound-symbol correspondences in written form. 

This speech to print approach helps us connect the phonemes, sounds, to the grapheme, letter/s; the representation for each individual sound. While this may be a practice that many of us are familiar with in the early grades with single-syllable words, how does this apply to multisyllabic words? Let's explore this. 

How Does the Speech-to-Print Approach Assist in Spelling Multisyllabic Words?

Students need explicit instruction in strategies that...

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How are Reading and Spelling Connected?

Hi, friends! In this week's blog post, I'm chatting about the connection, and its importance, between reading and spelling. In many classrooms across the nation, reading and spelling are taught in isolation. This provides little connection between the two, when in reality, reading and spelling are reciprocal skills. 

Let's break this down a little bit. We can think of reading and spelling as being different sides of the same coin. Reading, or decoding, is applying the sound-symbol relationships and successfully blending them to read a word. Spelling, or encoding, is the ability to segment words by individual sounds and use the correct sound-symbol correspondences in written form. 

So, continuing with the coin analogy, let's look at each side of it as being reading on one side and spelling on the other.

Reading: Breaking Down the Decoding Process

We see a word in its written form.

We segment each phoneme (sound) within the word.

We then blend those sounds together to...

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Teaching Sight Words by Mapping Speech to Print

In the education field, the term sight word is used to represent many different things based on who is talking and their training and pedagogy. For some, sight words are synonyms for high-frequency words. For others, it refers to words that they consider irregular or rule breakers and are considered words to memorize. Then there are those who refer to sight words as any word that is read automatically. I fall into the latter category and refer to sight words as instant words or words that we know by sight. 

I first began my teaching journey well over two decades ago. At that time, my college peers and I were taught to teach our students to memorize sight words. We also explained to our students that English spellings were unpredictable. 

I then transferred to a school that used Siegfried Engelmann's Direct Instruction which directed that all words, regardless of irregular spelling and pronunciation, were sounded out. This was my first introduction to helping students...

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