PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS: THE BEGINNING, THE MIDDLE AND THE END
As many teachers who struggle to teach phonological awareness know, it can feel very overwhelming, but using the right words to explain what is happening can help keep students tuned in.
Phonological Awareness can feel like such an overwhelming thing to teach. It is a broad skill that includes the manipulation of some parts of oral language. This can encompass vocabulary, syllables, onsets and even rhymes. It is a very important skill because it is the base for future reading skills. After all, the spoken word, or oral language, mimics the written word.
The beginning for our readers starts with letter recognition. Being able to easily identify letters is a necessary skill. The naming of letters makes a connection for students to written text. Understanding that those letters, when put together, form words is crucial. Our expectation by the time students start kindergarten is that they already have most of their letters. However, especially since covid hit many students are not participating in preschool programs and are lacking this skill. This means that immediate remediation is necessary.
We all have students who struggle with reading in our classrooms. Many times this stems from poor phoneme awareness. Phoneme awareness is a small piece of phonological awareness. It is the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken language. For students, this is the ability to hear the sounds that individual letters, or small groupings of letters make. It is the next building block of reading, after letter recognition. For those students in your class who are struggling with reading, going back to the beginning and reteaching basic letter sounds can be beneficial.
The end of reading skills for our students is of course reading! When our students can successfully take letter recognition and phoneme awareness and sound out unknown words then they are readers. This is what we are all striving for with our students. But how do we get there? Here are a few resources to get you started.
What to use in the classroom
I love to use flashcards in our classroom. There are so many different ways that we can implement this strategy and so many different skills that can be taught or reviewed. Our Alphabet Flashcards are a no-prep, easy to use resource. There are 9 pages in a pdf format that print in beautiful colors. These are great for independent practice, center time or a quick time filler for a round robin full class activity. I like to print these out, cut them and laminate them for multiple uses. It is a great way to improve phonological awareness with those students who have not mastered letter recognition.
As we know, being able to recognize individual sounds or blends is imperative in reading success. The Phonic Builder Activity is a great way for students to show their understanding of this skill. All letters of the alphabet are included in this easy to use resource. Students are given a phonics card with room to write out 9 different words. At the top of each page is an elkonin box. Students are given letters that you will have pre-cut to help them form words and show the breakdown of the sounds. If you are using these for individual practice then laminating may not be necessary. However, if you want to use these cards for center use then I recommend you laminate the cards and the letter cut outs. I also like to put velcro on the letters and the elkonin boxes for easier use. It is fun to turn this activity into a competition to see how many words can be formed when students are more advanced in their skills.
Our Challenge for you
I know that teaching reading skills can feel overwhelming and is definitely a challenge at times. Phonological awareness has so many pieces and our students come in at so many levels. Just remember, it is okay to go back to the beginning and that baby steps are still steps forward!