In this post I’m sharing information about how a Sound Wall can support your explicit phonics instruction and offering you ideas for meaningful guided practice activities to use in your kindergarten, first and second grade classroom. Be sure download the FREE Dictation Paper so you can begin weekly dictation guided practice!
Recently, I’ve begun learning more about how our students really learn to read. I’ve immersed myself in the Science of Reading and I think it’s fair to say….I am obsessed! I’ve learned so much, but one thing that really stands out is the fact that phonics knowledge has a powerful affect on a student’s ability to decode.
Additionally, awareness of sounds has been linked to higher levels of vocabulary, higher levels of decoding, and ultimately comprehension. This is why it is so important that we offer our students systematic, explicit phonics instruction and practice each day. An essential component of explicit instruction is guided practice with corrective feedback.
With this in mind, today I’m happy to share how my Sound Wall resource can support your explicit phonics instruction and offer you ideas for meaningful guided practice activities.
Principles of Quality Instruction
Effective phonics instruction follows these essential, evidence-based principles of quality instruction and is based on the “I do, We do, You do” model.
💕 Instruction must be explicit. In explicit instruction, the objective of the lesson is clear and the teaching is intentional. The teacher takes center stage and directly teaches concepts to students. There are opportunities for guided practice with decreasing levels of support. It follows the “I do, We do, You do” model.
💕 Instruction must be systematic. Skills taught and practiced are based on a research-based scope and sequence. Each lesson and activity builds upon itself. Students are not asked to do anything they haven’t first been taught. When instruction is systematic, nothing is left to chance.
💕 Instruction should be engaging. When students understand why they are learning what you are teaching and they are provided with the appropriate support for success, they see learning as relevant to their lives and are more engaged and motivated.
💕 Instruction is intensive. This means instruction is data-driven and focused on essential skills.
💕 Practice activities should be cumulative. Once a student moves forward with a new concept, they must continue to review the skills they already learned. In his book, A Fresh Look at Phonics, Wiley Blevins reminds us that a new skill needs to be systematically and purposefully reviewed for four to six weeks after you first introduced it.
Using a Sound Wall to Provide Explicit Phonics Instruction
As you plan out your lessons, focus on providing students with explicit phonics instruction. The objective of the lesson should be clear and the teaching is intentional. Give opportunities for guided practice that allow students to try the skills you’ve taught with decreasing levels of support.
When explicitly teaching a phoneme (sound) or spelling pattern to students, use a Sound Wall. Begin your daily mini lessons with a review of previously covered phonemes and graphemes on the sound wall. When you are ready to introduce a new sound, use a Sound Wall Card to introduce and say the sound.
Teach students where in the mouth the sound is formed. Show them exactly what their lips, tongue, and teeth are doing when making the sound.
Together practice forming the sound. Each student can use a small pocket mirror so they can see what their lips, teeth, and tongue are doing when they produce the phonemes.
Then review what it means for a sound to be voiced or unvoiced. Have students check for vibration in their throats when making the sound. Together, determine if the sound is voiced or unvoiced.
Next, name the manner of articulation (stops, nasals, fricatives, affricatives, glides, or liquids) and then together identify where on the Sound Wall the sound belongs.
Finally, name the letter (the most common grapheme) the sound makes and model how to write the letter. Students can practice writing the letter 3x themselves in the air or on whiteboards. Cognitive scientists report that the simple act of writing by hand provides a perceptual-motor experience that unifies what is being learned about the letters (their shapes, their sounds, and their motor plans), which in turn creates richer knowledge and fuller, true learning.
Guided Activities to Support Your Direct Instruction
After your daily explicit instruction, it’s time for guided practice where you will start gradually releasing responsibility to students. This guided practice (with corrective feedback) can include practice blending with the new sound spelling pattern, word building, reading decodable text featuring the new sound spelling pattern, and guided writing, such as dictation.
As your students move towards independence, offer meaningful, engaging activities to reinforce learning.
💕 Students can cut out the focus sound spelling card and paste it in the appropriate spot on their individual sound wall.
💕 Students can add to their individual sound wall dictionary.
They trace the grapheme and then the keyword. If students are able, they can discuss a few more words that contain the sound and add them to the dictionary.
💕 Students can write words on their whiteboards as you dictate them to practice blending phonemes to create words within the phonics pattern.
To add a level of complexity have students sort words into the correct column as they write them. Sorting the words in columns also allows students to show mastery as they learn multiple graphemes to represent one phoneme.
💕 Offer weekly dictation guided practice.
This is an interactive whole group activity that offers students the opportunity to transfer their phonemic awareness and phonics skills to writing (spelling). Students LOVE it!
While this activity can be done in different ways, my weekly dictation routine looked like this:
- Row 1- Sounds only. I say a sound, they echo and write the sound they hear.
- Row 2- Phoneme manipulation activities. Ex: I say “train, now delete the /t/ from the word then write the new word.” Or I say the word “wait” and then say, “Now change the beginning to make the word bait”.
- Row 3 & 4- I dictate and they write spelling words or challenge words using the rule of the week.
- Row 5- I dictate a sentence using spelling words and they write it.
Grab this FREE Dictation Paper download HERE so you can get started with this activity in your classroom ASAP!
I hope this post has helped you see how a Sound Wall and other guided activities can support your explicit phonics instruction. Do you need independent literacy center activities that offer students the cumulative phonics review needed for mastery of the skills you teach? I’ve shared 4 engaging phonics practice activities and free downloads in this post!
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