Today I wanted to share a little bit about phonics instruction in the kindergarten classroom.
Teaching phonics has not always been a strength of mine. As a matter of fact, my first 3 years of teaching, my phonics instruction was rarely explicit and direct. There was never a rhyme or reason to the sequence, either. I taught phonics as they came up during our shared reading and guided reading time and through whole group word work with activities such as this. I had a more whole language and literature based approach to teaching phonics. This is not WRONG, but what made it wrong for me is that I was not explicit and direct in my instruction. This worked for some, but not all. Instruction consisted of mainly THIS. Making words with Words Their Way.
Note: I still LOVE this activity and we will continue to practice this throughout the year. This practice has definitely stayed, but MORE was added!
Several years ago, when I moved back to first grade, I had a class that really struggled with letter identification and letter sounds. That year, after several months of teaching phonics with a whole language approach, I sought out help. I knew I had to reevaluate how I taught phonics. It was then that I began teaching phonics with a more direct and explicit approach. I immediately saw improvement in their use and understanding of the alphabetic principal. As I began my classes for my masters degree I learned more about reading instruction and the 5 Essential Elements, I discovered this.
How did I miss this in college???
I also realized this.
It hit me hard. I had not been giving phonics enough attention in my teaching day. So I made some BIG changes and work hard on explicit and direct phonics instruction. Lots of sorting by beginning sounds (which is also a phonemic awareness skill)...
Brainstorming of words we know that begin with the specific letter of instruction and making anchor charts...
Videos... Some of our favorite letter videos are Nellie and Ned on YouTube. I like that they introduce the letter with a motion. We refer to that motion throughout the week.
...and LOTS of games on our interactive whiteboard! I continue to reinforce phonics through word work instruction during guided reading time. Nothing will ever replace the 1-on-1 help that I can provide to a child during guided reading time. I'm definitely not an expert and I still have a lot of growing and learning to do. I would love to hear and read about your ideas and methods for phonics instruction that you use in your classroom!