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Tips for Phonics Instruction: Building Reading & Spelling Fluency

Today, I wanted to highlight one of the three products available in the "Phonics Instruction Made Easy" Bundle, currently available for half off in the TallyTales TPT store this week: the "Hands-On Reading and Spelling Materials for Phonics Interventions."

There are so. many. good. items in this product that can help teachers, parents, and interventionists provide appropriate instruction for young or struggling readers. I developed these materials as needed for my own instruction. In this post, I want to share ways these materials can be used. However, these tips are valuable instructional advice for anyone, whether you have this product or not. So read on for a quick overview of phonics instruction guidelines and how these materials support that instruction.

In my opinion, the overarching goal for explicit, phonics instruction is to build reading and spelling fluency with individual phonics skills. Orton Gillingham methodology focuses heavily on systematic phonics instruction that revolves around syllable types as well as the phonics rules associated with each type of syllable. The more fluent students become with each skill, the less they struggle to decode words (especially multisyllabic words). Naturally, this translates into their spelling abilities as well.

One of the key components in providing effective phonics instruction is to include multisensory opportunities throughout the instruction. I talk with my students a lot about using "touch points" to help sound out words. I know a lot of teachers discourage students from using their fingers to track print, but for struggling readers, using the sense of touch creates a powerful connection as students make speech-to-print associations. Whenever possible, I provide visual touch points for students as they develop fluency at the word-level. There should be a gradual release of dependency on visual touch points, but developing that tactile strategy is a powerful tool for students! I implemented that philosophy into these materials, and it has been highly supportive of my students' reading fluency development.

Alternately, the same philosophy applies to developing spelling fluency. It is important to support students' development of phonemic awareness, but if they already have a stable foundation, you can continue to foster the speech-to-print connection by providing a visual guide of the sounds within each word. Again, you must also foster a gradual release of dependency on those visual cues. These materials serve to support the reading-writing connection since students first decode each word. Then there are visual cues for the individual sounds within each word to help students spell sound-by-sound. After that, the visual cues are removed and students spell the word as a cohesive unit of meaning. It's a 3-step process that is simple in format, but effective in helping strengthen letter-sound relationships that can be so challenging, especially for students with deficits.

Along with this, you have to explicitly teach phonics rules, including syllable types and the rules within each syllable. The instruction must be consistent and sequential. That's a "fancy" way of saying that you have to teach the skills thoroughly, maintaining a similar method in your delivery, and you have to teach the skills in an order that makes sense.

You may have an awesome phonics program that takes care of this for you. If you do, that is super. If not, you may be searching for something more. Whatever your current phonics "program" looks like, it is always helpful to have ready-to-use materials on hand that will easily supplement the skills you are teaching.

That is what this product is intended to be! These materials provide guidance for the "rules" as well as materials that support multisensory instruction (visual and tactile elements) and are consistent in format throughout the whole product.

Not only this, but it's included in a bundle along with other materials that will all work together cohesively to enrich your phonics instruction. The reading passages are fantastic alone, but I wrote them very much for the purpose of being used with these phonics materials. All these pieces are on sale this week, so I hope that you can take advantage of them, and I hope so very much that they will be immediately useful to you in your classroom, at home, or wherever your journey with your students finds you today.


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