Do you know how the experts easily distinguish a genuine Science of Reading classroom from those that are still finding their way? They look for four specific practices that are the cornerstone of Science of Reading in primary classrooms.
If you want to stand out as a teacher that gets it and truly embraces the principles of SoR, take a look at these four “do this; not that” mantras to ensure you’re focusing on the most important things.
1. Daily Phonemic Awareness and Explicit Phonics Instruction
👍🏼 DO THIS: Make sure you have time for daily phonemic awareness and explicit phonics instruction. Yes, daily! Learning the sounds & symbols of the language is extremely important. Reading isn’t something you “just pick up on. Kids need to be taught explicitly the sounds and symbols of printed language and how they connect. Use a lot of visuals during this time, such as the sound wall, phonics posters, and anchor charts.
👎🏻 NOT THAT: Skip phonemic awareness and phonics because most of the kids will get it eventually, or just teach it as it comes up while they are reading.
2. Science of Reading Classrooms have Decodable Text
👍🏼 DO THIS: Include decodable text as part of your phonics lessons. Learning the phonics skill in isolated words is great! But the other half of phonics is being able to apply what you are learning to connected text. Decodable text is controlled text where the students can practice reading with the skills they have learned. This helps them be successful and gives them lots of opportunities to practice the skill.
👎🏻 NOT THAT: Only practice phonics skills with isolated words, only apply them to text once in a while, or use uncontrolled text in your phonics lessons.
3. Spelling Instruction Aligned With Phonics Skills
👍🏼 DO THIS: Align your spelling instruction with the phonics skills you are working on. Help students “map” the words first by connecting to the phonemes before writing the letters. Use dictation as part of your phonics instruction and spelling routine.
👎🏻 NOT THAT: Assign a list of random words on Monday, study all week, test on Friday.
4. A New Approach to High Frequency Words
👍🏼 DO THIS: Teach high frequency words along with the phonics patterns they have, map the sounds and write them, and teach irregular parts of the words explicitly.
👎🏻 NOT THAT: Have students memorize a list of high-frequency words, and learn them by practicing the visual shape of the word.
Bonus SoR Tip
Don’t forget that phonics and phonemic awareness are only one side of the equation. Language comprehension is also important to continue to foster development with read alouds, vocabulary instruction, and collaborative conversations.
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