Sunday, 7 July 2013

Linking up to talk Phonics!

I am linking up with Castles and Crayons again to talk about Phonics in my classroom.

Phonics is an area I am passionate about. Two years ago I did postgrad research on the British "Letters and Sounds" program after analysing the results I know how valuable 20 minutes a day of explicit teaching is.

That said, I have had to revamp my methods this year. Having a profoundly deaf child in my class has made me think about how to teach spelling in new ways to cater for her needs!


I use a mix of Letters and Sounds , Spalding Method and a smattering of the Reading Recovery methods that I have come across.

I introduce the 5 phonogram cards that we will be practicing for the week. 2 cards will be new sounds and 3 will be ones they have already learnt. This helps with review and retention. I show the card, say the sounds and the letter name, and then show the class how to write them. The Spalding Method is very particular about explaining the writing process of each letter (eg. start and the 2 o'clock for a, c, g, o, s, d, q). Then I will past the cards around the circle, one at a time. Children need to say the sound as they pass the card to the next person.
Then we brain storm some words that contain the new sounds. I might have some pictures/objects to help them.
Finally we read a poem from this kit Smart Phonics. This poem will be an independent reading task later. The poems are laminated and I can use dry erase markers to underline sight words, rhyming words and of course the focus sounds.

I show and read the cards again. Children echo me.
Then we head to our desks and write the sounds in our handwriting book along with 2 words for each sound. Children underline the focus phonograms in red pencil.

For example, their notebook page might look like this:

ow cow slow
oo foot pool
sh wish ship
ee feet sheep
er her better

Again, lots of talk and visual aids to help them to make connections and see patterns. I also use this time to talk about rules and syllables.

Again, show and say the sounds and children echo. Then I use the magnetic letters to demonstrate blending and segmenting of words which contain the sounds. I try to get as much children participation as possible and keep the lesson moving quickly. Once we've practiced a dozen or so words, we do some sound substitution, eg. change feet to meet, etc.

Same as Tuesday, but with the sounds in a different order and with new words.
Then a quick few minutes on the mat to do some base word building using one of the words we wrote. Eg. wish - wished, wishes, wishing. (This is particularly for the Grade 1s in my class who need to start learning this!)

This time the kids have a small piece of paper and have to write down the phonogram just by listening, NOT seeing the cards! Then we mark them altogether. This is just to create some accountability for them. I put a sticker on everyone's paper and praise them for good listening and remind them that listening and thinking about sounds helps our writing and spelling.
Then we read the weekly poem again and children read with me if they can.
Finally, a quick syllable sort using all the words that we have studied during the week.

That overview is NOT the only phonics that I do. That's the whole class bit to ensure that every one has been exposed to what the curriculum requires. I also do a lot of small group work to reinforce the learning. Small group time also lets me differentiate better. Since I have a Prep/Grade 1 composite consisting of 5-7 year olds, there is a lot of differing abilities. Some little treasures are still at the alphabet sound/symbol stage. Some are ready for CVC work. Some are up to blends, digraphs, etc.


1 have 5 groups. I see each group twice a week.

I tried Daily 5 last year but this group needs something different, plus I don't have enough books for the children to have 5 each all week. So this is what works for me, this year, with this group.

First, we have 20 minutes for spelling group time. Children only do one job a day. It's all I can fit in to be honest!! The jobs are:

  • Words Sorts (a bit like Words Their Way)
  • Spelling Games
  • Word Families (onset/rime activities)
  • Sight Words (Make, Match, Stamp, Write)
  • Work with the Teacher (I read their guided reading book with them and do some decoding based activities  such as blending and segmenting and Elkonin boxes. We do some interactive writing as a book follow up.

Then we switch to 20 minutes of reading group time. The groups are the same as the spelling groups. The jobs are:

  • Computer (Starfall)
  • Reading Corner
  • Sight Words Games
  • Poem (they get a photocopy version of the weekly poem, colour in the focus sound/letter and then decorate it)
  • Teacher group, which is a guided reading session with a comprehension/strategies focus rather than a decoding focus.
So, there you have my Phonics lessons, VERY briefly! I hope it makes sense! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Liz! Thank you so much for linking up this week!
    It is so hard to write all we do in 20 minutes, isn't it??!! :)

    Have a great week!
    Kelli :)

    Castles and Crayons