Are you ready to dive into the land of reading instruction? Buckle up, my friend, because we’re about to embark on a hilarious voyage through LETRS Unit 3.
If you’re new to LETRS, it stands for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling. LETRS is a professional development course that helps educators understand the theory and evidence-based practices of teaching reading.
In this article, we’re going to explore LETRS Unit 3, which focuses on phonics, word study, and fluency. We’ll read about the history of phonics, debunk some common myths about teaching phonics, and discuss effective methods for teaching students to decode and read fluently.
So, grab your sunglasses and let’s get started on this sunny journey of laughter and learning.
A Brief History of Phonics: From the Phoenicians to the Fonz
Phonics has been around for centuries. From the Phoenicians using symbols to represent sounds, to Aristotle’s description of the alphabet as “representing each vocal sound in its essential individuality,” to the creation of the first English spelling book, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, in 1744.
But it wasn’t until the 1960s that phonics became a hot topic in education. And who was at the forefront of this movement? None other than the Fonz himself.
That’s right, Henry Winkler, the actor who played the leather-jacketed heartthrob on Happy Days, struggled with dyslexia as a child. In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, Winkler said that his dyslexia was so severe, he didn’t read his first book until he was 31 years old.
Winkler is now an advocate for literacy and has co-written a series of children’s books featuring a dyslexic protagonist named Hank Zipzer.
Lesson Learned: Phonics is not a new invention! It has been around for centuries and has been used to teach generations of readers to decode and read fluently.
Myths and Misconceptions about Phonics: Busted!
There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about phonics. Some people believe that phonics is boring or that it’s only for struggling readers. Others think that teaching phonics involves tedious drill and kill exercises.
But the truth is that phonics instruction can be engaging and effective when it’s done correctly. And it’s not just for struggling readers, either. All students benefit from explicit and systematic phonics instruction.
Let’s take a look at some common myths about phonics and why they’re not true.
Myth #1: Phonics is boring
Busted! Phonics instruction can be engaging and fun when it’s done right. There are plenty of games, activities, and even songs that can be used to teach phonics. Plus, watching students decode a word for the first time can be incredibly exciting!
Myth #2: Phonics is only for struggling readers
Busted! All students benefit from explicit and systematic phonics instruction. Even advanced readers can struggle with decoding new or complex words. Phonics instruction helps all students become better readers.
Myth #3: Phonics involves tedious drill and kill exercises
Busted! Effective phonics instruction involves much more than just rote memorization or drill and kill exercises. Good phonics instruction incorporates authentic texts, multisensory activities, and plenty of opportunities for practice and application.
Lesson Learned: Don’t be fooled by the myths! Phonics instruction can be engaging, effective, and fun for all students.
The Five Elements of Effective Phonics Instruction
Now that we’ve busted some phonics myths, let’s talk about the five key elements of effective phonics instruction. These elements are based on decades of research and are considered best practices for teaching phonics.
Element #1: Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in words. It’s essential for developing phonics skills because students need to be able to hear and distinguish sounds before they can connect them to letters.
Activities such as rhyming, segmenting, and blending sounds are all effective ways to develop phonemic awareness.
Element #2: Phonics
Phonics is the study of the relationship between letters and sounds. Effective phonics instruction teaches students the sounds associated with individual letters and letter combinations.
Phonics instruction should be explicit (clearly showing the connection between letters and sounds) and systematic (building on previously taught concepts).
Element #3: Fluency
Fluency is the ability to read with accuracy, speed, and expression. Students who are fluent readers can read with comprehension and ease.
Effective phonics instruction includes plenty of opportunities for students to practice reading aloud and to build their fluency.
Element #4: Vocabulary
Vocabulary refers to the words that students know and understand. Good phonics instruction helps students develop their vocabulary by teaching them the meanings of new words and the context in which they are used.
Element #5: Comprehension
Comprehension is the ability to understand and make meaning from what is being read. Effective phonics instruction teaches students how to use decoding strategies to read with understanding and comprehension.
Lesson Learned: Effective phonics instruction includes phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
Tools and Strategies for Effective Phonics Instruction
Now that we know the five key elements of phonics instruction, let’s take a look at some tools and strategies that teachers can use to make their phonics instruction more effective.
Tool #1: Decodable Texts
Decodable texts are books that are designed to help students apply their phonics skills in context. These books contain words and spelling patterns that students have already learned, so they can practice reading fluently and with comprehension.
Tool #2: Word Walls
Word walls are collections of words that students are learning or have already learned. Having a word wall in the classroom helps students see and use new vocabulary regularly.
Tool #3: Multisensory Activities
Multisensory activities engage multiple senses, such as sight, sound, touch, and movement. These activities help students learn and remember new concepts more effectively.
One example of a multisensory activity is “air writing.” Students use their finger to “write” a word in the air while simultaneously saying the sounds that correspond to each letter.
Tool #4: Phonics Games
Phonics games are a fun and engaging way to help students practice their phonics skills. Games like “I Spy” or “Phonics Bingo” can make phonics instruction feel more like play than work.
Lesson Learned: Effective phonics instruction includes tools and strategies like decodable texts, word walls, multisensory activities, and phonics games.
The Benefits of Effective Phonics Instruction
We know that effective phonics instruction helps students become better readers, but what are some specific benefits of this type of instruction?
Benefit #1: Improved Decoding Skills
Effective phonics instruction helps students develop their decoding skills, allowing them to read new and complex words with greater accuracy and fluency.
Benefit #2: Increased Vocabulary
Phonics instruction helps students learn new words and understand their meanings, leading to an increased vocabulary.
Benefit #3: Improved Comprehension
By developing their decoding skills and vocabulary, students can read with greater comprehension and understanding.
Benefit #4: Confidence and Independence
Effective phonics instruction gives students the tools they need to decode and read fluently on their own, leading to greater confidence and independence as readers.
Lesson Learned: Effective phonics instruction has numerous benefits, including improved decoding skills, increased vocabulary, improved comprehension, and greater confidence and independence as readers.
Closing Thoughts: Paddleboarding Through the Phonic Waters
As we come to the end of our journey through LETRS Unit 3, it’s important to remember that teaching phonics is an essential part of reading instruction.
But it doesn’t have to be boring, tedious, or overwhelming! By incorporating the five key elements of phonics instruction and using effective tools and strategies, teachers can make phonics instruction engaging, fun, and effective.
So, whether you’re paddleboarding through the phonic waters with your students or riding the LETRS waves on your own, remember to keep things fun, light-hearted, and instructional.
Lesson Learned: Teaching phonics can be fun and effective when you use the right tools and strategies. So, paddleboard through the phonic waters and make waves in your classroom!
|Element of Phonics Instruction||Definition|
|Phonemic Awareness||The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in words.|
|Phonics||The study of the relationship between letters and sounds.|
|Fluency||The ability to read with accuracy, speed, and expression.|
|Vocabulary||The words that students know and understand.|
|Comprehension||The ability to understand and make meaning from what is being read.|
Top 5 Phonics Games:
- Phonics Bingo
- I Spy
- Rhyme Time
- Word Scavenger Hunt
- Phonics Puzzles
Top 5 Decodable Text Series:
- Bob Books
- Little Phonics Readers
- Scholastic Phonics Readers
- Elephant and Piggie
- Usborne Phonics Readers
- National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
- Winkler, H., & Oliver, L. (2003). Niagara Falls or does it?. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.