Professional Development

September 21, 2013

Phonics Instruction in Our Classroom

Teaching phonics has not always been a strength of mine. As a matter of fact, my first 3 years of teaching, my phonics instruction was rarely explicit and direct.  There was never a rhyme or reason to the sequence, either. I taught phonics as they came up during our shared reading and guided reading time and through whole group word work with activities such as this.  I had a more whole language and literature based approach to teaching phonics.

Note: I still LOVE this activity and we will continue to practice this throughout the year. 

About two years ago, when I moved back to first grade, I had a class that really struggled with letter identification and letter sounds.  For 5 months of teaching phonics how I was used to teaching them- more of a whole language approach- I sought out help.  I knew I had to reevaluate how I taught phonics.

It was then that I began teaching phonics with a more direct and explicit approach.  I immediately saw improvement in their use and understanding of the alphabetic principal.

This summer as I learned more about reading instruction and the 5 Essential Elements, I discovered this.

         How did I miss this in college???

I also realized this.

It hit me hard. I had not been giving phonics enough attention in my teaching day.

So what does phonics time look like now in our classroom?  Lots of sorting by beginning sounds (which is also a phonemic awareness skill),  brainstorming of words we know that begin with the specific letter of instruction, videos, and interactive games on our Mimio.

You can find these letter sorting books HERE in my TpT store

Some of our favorite letter videos are Nellie and Ned on YouTube.  I like that they introduce the letter with a motion.  We refer to that motion throughout the week.

I continue to reinforce phonics through word work instruction during guided reading time.  Nothing will ever replace the 1-on-1 help that I can provide to a child during guided reading time.

I’m definitely not an expert and I still have a lot of growing and learning to do.  I would love to hear and read about your ideas and methods for phonics instruction that you use in your classroom!

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Happy Teaching,



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Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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7 Responses

  1. I love Words their Way, strategies from 4 Blocks, and Reading Reflex. I do multiple things…word sorts, making words, manipulating letters and changing sounds, and I do ability grouping spelling and constantly adjust those groups. I love using the beanie babie strategies to get them to use many strategies. There is LOTS to do, and just need to find ways to reach them all. I am a new follower, saw your blog on a facebook post tonight.

  2. Quite a different way of looking at phonics, I might say. I have taught junior class a while now and try to make teaching with phonics as interesting as it can get. I have discovered that kid in my class like their phonics interesting! I also use information from a site I got recommended to have a look at, and find it equally useful too. Loaded with ideas to make learning interesting, I have made regular visits there ever since I discovered it. I recommend the use of it.

  3. I usually never leave comments on people’s blogs but I was so excited to see your pyramid of the 5 essential elements of reading instruction. As a new teacher, I had students who were struggling to master the phonemic awareness and phonics skills necessary to be good readers and writers. I knew they had to be fluent with these necessary skills and it would require a lot of practice. I developed a spiraling homework system that allowed students to build fluency with these basic skills and called them fluency pages. After a few months realizing the great success I developed matching fluency pages to practice in the classroom as well. This program I called, “Beginning Fluency.” I started insisting on using this program at other schools. For 10+ years now I have seen amazing results (in kindergarten and further into first grade and on) from the fluency sheets I started years ago. Thank you for sharing. I wish every teacher understood it is not enough to just focus on one of the basic skills- students need all of them.

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