How to Help Students Master Phonics Skills

In this post, I share tips to help students master the phonics skills you teach and offer you details about my new Yearlong Phonics Cumulative Review Resource for Kindergarten, first, and second-grade students. It is the perfect phonics activities resource for Science of Readiing-aligned morning work or any other time when you want to give your students meaningful phonics review. 

In a structured literacy k-2 classroom, systematic phonics instruction is an integral part of our literacy instruction. Decades of research show us that English decoding skills are not intuitive and reading does not come naturally. We must explicitly teach our students how to connect sounds with letters.

In his book, A Fresh Look at Phonics, Wiley Blevins reminds us that the goal of phonics instruction must be mastery rather than just exposure.  That takes time. A lot of time.  As teachers how can we ensure we are not just exposing them to one skill and then moving to the next? 

Today I want to offer tips for helping ensure students master the phonics skills you teach. I will help you find ways to maximize the time you have with your students and leave you with details about my new Phonics Yearlong Cumulative Review resource.  It is the perfect resource to use anytime when you want to give your students independent, meaningful, SoR-aligned phonics review and practice. 

4 Common Causes of Phonics Failure and How to Fix Them

While it is great that phonics instruction is becoming a more integral part of many classrooms, we know there are still many students who struggle to master the skills we teach. Why is this?

In his book, A Fresh Look at Phonics, Wiley Blevins highlights the most common causes of phonics failure he sees in classrooms and offers suggestions for how to fix them.  

Problem #1:  Inadequate or nonexistent review and repetition

How to fix it: Look at the skill you are teaching this week and then plan where you will review it in the upcoming 4-6 weeks.  In this blog post, I shared ways to build in more systematic and purposeful review.  

Problem #2: Lack of application to real reading and writing experiences

How to Fix it:  Application is how skills stick.  50% of your phonics lessons should be devoted to application.  To increase application time, add daily writing work.  This can include dictation and writing extensions to decodable texts. 

Problem #3: Inappropriate reading materials to practice skills

How to Fix It: The work you give your students must be directly connected to what you have taught them.  Use decodable texts that align with your phonics scope and sequence so students are practicing and applying the skills you have taught. 

Decodable texts provide students with practice that directly connects to what has been taught.

Problem #4: Ineffective use of the gradual release model (I Do, We Do, You Do)

How to Fix It:  Don’t overdo the modeling.  Provide lots of opportunities for “We Do” (guided practice with corrective feedback) and “You Do” (independent practice).  Remember, whoever does the thinking does the learning!


My Year-Long Phonics Cumulative Review Resource

Are looking for meaningful, SoR-aligned cumulative review phonics activities that students can complete independently? My new Phonics Yearlong Cumulative Review Resource for Kindergarten, first and second-grade students is your answer!  

These printables offer students review of previously taught phonics skills, as well as ongoing practice with phonemic awareness, handwriting, blending and segmenting, high-frequency words, fluency, comprehension, and syntax.  

Below are some example activities you will find in these cumulative review phonics activities:

The skills follow a Science of Reading-aligned, research-based phonics scope and sequence.  This ensures the work is connected to your instruction. Students get the chance to apply and practice the phonics skills you teach.   

The resource was intentionally designed with easy-to-read directions so that students can complete the tasks totally independently.  It is the perfect resource to use as morning work, when you have a substitute or anytime you need students to work on their own.

Each day the student printable contains a combination of 3 different activities.  These activities rotate to ensure students remain engaged but are familiar with the directions.  No time is wasted going over instructions or learning routines and procedures!  Students know what to do and can get straight to work!

Cross phonics review off your list and grab your grade level bundle below!

Curious to take a closer look and see all that is included in this resource?  Download a FREE sample of the Yearlong Phonics Cumulative Review here!

I hope the information and resources I have shared here today will help you bring meaningful phonics practice and review to your classroom, so that students can fully master the skills you teach1

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