EDRD 6529 Teaching Reading: Strategies of Instruction

EDRD 6529 Reflection #1

Phonemic awareness (PA) and the ability to successfully deconstruct words phonemically, can sometimes stump me.  Learning to teach the smallest sounds that make up speech, in order to blend together sounds to create words, is fascinating and challenging.  If this is the case for me how can I make it easier for my future students?  Throughout the reading it was obvious that PA most directly impacts the learner in Kindergarten through Second grade.  Recognizing the importance of nurturing PA, it is imperative to develop a curriculum that is: adaptable, concise and attainable for these young students.  Developing PA is the expected outcome when progressive and specific activities are incorporated into curriculum to support accurate understanding.

Support for these young students for the development of PA comes in the form of explicit focused activities that build skills progressively: sound matching, sound isolation, sound blending, sound substitution, and sound segmentation.  But what do these activities actually look like?  Sound matching is supported by having students come up with words that start with the same sound. With the teacher providing a starting point, i.e., words that start with the sound /t/, students and the teacher can work together to develop a list of words: tree, toilet, Tommy, time, tea, toothbrush, travel, etc.  By allowing students to brainstorm the list they are able to make the personal connections to make learning meaningful on an individual basis.  The brainstormed list could then be displayed on the wall for students to refer to; additional words could be added throughout the day, week, and month.  Another example of exploration of sound matching is by examining three words, two that start with the same sound and one that is different.  The task for the students is to circle the one word that has a different sound beginning than the other two.  For example the words could be hat, cup, hot.  The student would need to explore the sounds that the words begin with to be able to circle the word cup as the odd one out.

Sound isolation requires students to understand the beginning, middle and ending sounds of words.  By offering students a list of three letter words to explore that start with the same sound, tin, tan, tip, ton, tab, and asking students to tell you what the first sound is sound isolation is occurring.  To develop this skill further the students can then provide the middle and the ending sounds. The next step in understanding PA is to introduce sound blending.  The text offers an exploration of sound blending through games that use a “sing-song” or riddle type format.  For example the teacher could present the students with a riddle, “I am thinking of something that I drink my coffee out of and here are the sounds in its name:  c-u-p, what is the word I am thinking of?”  The students would hear the sound blends and answer with the word “cup”.  After students have practiced this sound blending activity and seem to have an understanding of the game, the teacher could ask students to come up with riddles for the class to solve or riddles to stump the teacher.

Sound substitution examines a student’s ability to change the sounds in words by adding or subtracting sounds.  For example a student is given the word cat and asked, “What do you get if you take the /c/ off cat?” or conversely, “What do you get if you add /t/ to all?”  These sound substitutions can be explored through middle and ending sounds as student’s skills of sound substitutions develops. Lastly, sound segmentation provides an opportunity to, “…go beyond isolating one sound in a word to determining all the constituent sounds.” (Rasinski & Padak, 2008)

Sound segmentation should be examined only after a thorough understanding of the other four sound techniques are in place.  In a classroom sound segmentation would begin by having students break works into segments depending on the onsets and the rimes.  For example book would break into two segments the onset b and the rime ook.  After students has successfully grasped two part sound segmentation, then sound segmentation that breaks word sounds down by each specific sound can be introduced.

Each of these sound specific techniques needs to be practiced and re-visited often through thoughtful curriculum and a variety of games that keep student interested.   A routine that adds short games throughout the day seems to offer a way of developing skills and keeping students attention and interest.   Although these are just a few examples of PA specific activities there are hundreds more that might be useful in an elementary classroom.  It is however extremely evident that PA is the foundation for successful readers and writers.

Works Cited
Rasinski, T. V., & Padak, N. D. (2008). From Phonics to Fluency-Effective Teaching of Decoding and Reading Fluency in the Elementary School. Boston: PearsonEducation, Inc.


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