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April 2, 2018

Help for Teaching Phonics

By Juan Gonzalez
Grades 3–5

    One of the best things about being a classroom teacher is that the learning doesn’t stop. Our professional learning requires experience in the field, trainings, and guidance from others who have wisdom to share. This is why professional books are important to our craft in the classroom.

    This year, word study was something that I wanted to strengthen for my current students and beyond. With this goal in mind, the universe must have heard me planning because it brought me to the book Teaching Phonics & Word Study in the Intermediate Grades by Wiley Blevins. This book takes the reader into the world of intermediate phonics instruction, and showcases the research on why phonics instruction is important.

    In this post, I will share a brief look into each section of the book and the lessons I've used with my students. My hopes are that this overview will help you see if this text is what you need to develop word study in your classroom.

    The Six Sections

    This book is broken down into six main parts. One thing that Blevins does well is the use of quotes at the beginning of each section. These quotes perfectly summarize the big idea that each chapter has to offer.

    Section One: What Is Phonics?

    It’s no surprise that literacy instruction has many moving parts. The research provided in this section is current and reader friendly. It’s a great refresher for experienced teachers and a solid starting point for those who are new to literacy instruction.

    Section Two: Learning About Sounds & Letters

    Do you know all 44 sounds of the English language? This short section is a total overview of phonemes, consonants, and vowel sounds.

    Section Three: How Phonics is Taught

    Currently I am a third-grade teacher. Also, depending on where my students are in their academic journey, I’m whatever “grade level” teacher my kids need me to be. This part of the book looks at the many ways that phonics can be taught to meet the needs of our learners. It’s filled with information on the stages of decoding, characteristics of strong phonic instruction, and a helpful checklist to help analyze your work with phonics in the classroom.

    Section Four: Creating Lessons for Success

    Now it’s time to have a phonics party! Section four of this book is the largest because it contains lesson ideas, activities, and word lists for every lesson. The best part is that these lessons are relevant for a wide variety of learners, not just emerging readers. I’m still using this section of the book when planning whole and small group lessons. Blevins does a wonderful job of sharing sample lessons that are quick and efficient.

    Section Five: Building Fluency

    Blevins did not ignore the fact that fluency is a major component in building readers. In this section, we get a quick overview on what it means to be a fluent reader. Then, the chapter goes into strategies to help grow readers that are still building their fluency. As with previous chapters, the information here is written in lists, which makes for pleasant reading.

    Section Six: Meet the Needs of Struggling Readers

    We end the book with a look at why some readers take more time to develop and what we can do to support them. I had most of my aha moments reading this section because it gave me some new perspectives on what causes a student to hit road blocks during their journey to becoming a fluent reader.

    The Book in Action

    What I love most about this book is that it doesn’t just instruct, it also has valuable and useful resources for the classroom.

    Prefix and Root Word Spinners

    I had my class practice changing word meaning with the addition of prefixes using paper spinners. This digital resource that comes with the book made planning and prep a breeze.

    After spinning, the readers used whiteboards to build their new words and explain the definition. I have yet to meet a student who doesn’t love using spinners while learning.

    Bowling for Words

    The goal of this game is for the students to read words that vary in level of difficulty. One player from each team reaches into a bag and selects a word. If the player can read the word correctly, they record the point value on the team-recording sheet. At the end of the game session, the players add up their points to see their final scores.

    I modified this game from the book and it has become a classroom favorite. I’ve used this game for guided reading warm-ups and to kick off word study lessons.

    Happy reading!

     

    One of the best things about being a classroom teacher is that the learning doesn’t stop. Our professional learning requires experience in the field, trainings, and guidance from others who have wisdom to share. This is why professional books are important to our craft in the classroom.

    This year, word study was something that I wanted to strengthen for my current students and beyond. With this goal in mind, the universe must have heard me planning because it brought me to the book Teaching Phonics & Word Study in the Intermediate Grades by Wiley Blevins. This book takes the reader into the world of intermediate phonics instruction, and showcases the research on why phonics instruction is important.

    In this post, I will share a brief look into each section of the book and the lessons I've used with my students. My hopes are that this overview will help you see if this text is what you need to develop word study in your classroom.

    The Six Sections

    This book is broken down into six main parts. One thing that Blevins does well is the use of quotes at the beginning of each section. These quotes perfectly summarize the big idea that each chapter has to offer.

    Section One: What Is Phonics?

    It’s no surprise that literacy instruction has many moving parts. The research provided in this section is current and reader friendly. It’s a great refresher for experienced teachers and a solid starting point for those who are new to literacy instruction.

    Section Two: Learning About Sounds & Letters

    Do you know all 44 sounds of the English language? This short section is a total overview of phonemes, consonants, and vowel sounds.

    Section Three: How Phonics is Taught

    Currently I am a third-grade teacher. Also, depending on where my students are in their academic journey, I’m whatever “grade level” teacher my kids need me to be. This part of the book looks at the many ways that phonics can be taught to meet the needs of our learners. It’s filled with information on the stages of decoding, characteristics of strong phonic instruction, and a helpful checklist to help analyze your work with phonics in the classroom.

    Section Four: Creating Lessons for Success

    Now it’s time to have a phonics party! Section four of this book is the largest because it contains lesson ideas, activities, and word lists for every lesson. The best part is that these lessons are relevant for a wide variety of learners, not just emerging readers. I’m still using this section of the book when planning whole and small group lessons. Blevins does a wonderful job of sharing sample lessons that are quick and efficient.

    Section Five: Building Fluency

    Blevins did not ignore the fact that fluency is a major component in building readers. In this section, we get a quick overview on what it means to be a fluent reader. Then, the chapter goes into strategies to help grow readers that are still building their fluency. As with previous chapters, the information here is written in lists, which makes for pleasant reading.

    Section Six: Meet the Needs of Struggling Readers

    We end the book with a look at why some readers take more time to develop and what we can do to support them. I had most of my aha moments reading this section because it gave me some new perspectives on what causes a student to hit road blocks during their journey to becoming a fluent reader.

    The Book in Action

    What I love most about this book is that it doesn’t just instruct, it also has valuable and useful resources for the classroom.

    Prefix and Root Word Spinners

    I had my class practice changing word meaning with the addition of prefixes using paper spinners. This digital resource that comes with the book made planning and prep a breeze.

    After spinning, the readers used whiteboards to build their new words and explain the definition. I have yet to meet a student who doesn’t love using spinners while learning.

    Bowling for Words

    The goal of this game is for the students to read words that vary in level of difficulty. One player from each team reaches into a bag and selects a word. If the player can read the word correctly, they record the point value on the team-recording sheet. At the end of the game session, the players add up their points to see their final scores.

    I modified this game from the book and it has become a classroom favorite. I’ve used this game for guided reading warm-ups and to kick off word study lessons.

    Happy reading!

     

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