November Math Centers for 1st grade and 2nd grade

How to Identify Student Gaps in Phonological Awareness

Blog Posts, Foundational Reading, Literacy

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

Every teacher wants their students to grow as readers and writers. Imagine reading acquisition as a tower of blocks: each skill lays a foundation for the next. If there is a gap in the blocks, or one of the blocks is a little wobbly, the whole tower could fall! In order for students to grow from one level to the next, they must master the foundational block: phonological awareness.

Tools for Finding Student Gaps in Phonological Awareness

How do we help students build a strong foundation of phonological awareness?

  • Identify need, and follow up with targeted instruction
  • Modeling
  • Consistent practice
  • Repetition of skills
  • Repeated exposure and review

How to Identify Gaps in Phonological Awareness

Teachers hear it time and again, “meet your students where they are at.” But how can you collect meaningful data from your students for phonological awareness? A great place to start is with a phonemic awareness assessment. The Small Group Intervention and Literacy Kit includes a Phonemic Awareness Survey that is useful for identifying any gaps your students may have in phonological awareness.

Skills assessed in the Phonemic Awareness Survey

tools to make identification of students phonemic awareness skills easy to find

Level 1 (Syllables):

  • Syllable segmentation & deletion

Level 2 (Onset & Rime):

  • Deletion & substitution of beginning sounds

Level 3 (Basic Phonemes):

  • Phoneme blending, segmentation, addition and deletion

Level 4 (Advanced Phonemes):

  • Advanced phoneme substitution & deletion

If you teach kindergarten, we recommend starting with level 1 and working your way up from there. First grade teachers, start with level 2. If you teach 2nd grade, start with level 3.

The survey has a point system to help you determine which level is appropriate for continued instruction.

Read more about what phonological intervention and remediation looks like in first grade and second grade classrooms.

After the Phonemic Awareness Survey is Complete…

Congrats – your class has finished the survey! You now have a complete picture of each student’s skills and needs. Now it’s time to get to work helping them master those skills. With hands-on literacy intervention activities and small group literacy intervention, students will be able to practice and master the skills they need to progress on their reading journeys.

Where can you get even more targeted and more practice with specific phonological awareness skills? Phonological Awareness Toothy!

This phonological awareness resource includes 45 sets of phonological and phonemic awareness skills. It includes early, basic, and advanced phonological awareness activity sets.

New to Toothy? Read all about Toothy in the classroom and find out why teachers across the country love this fun phonological awareness game!

Phonological Awareness Toothy practice skills include:

Use our phonological awareness checklist to determine which skills your students have already mastered.

Using the data from the Phonological Awareness Survey, you’ll be able to practice the specific skill students need to build a strong foundation in reading.

With this engaging activity, students will gain consistent practice and repetition of skills needed to reach new levels of phonological awareness. Bonus: Students love filling up the mouth of their Toothy character!

students practice phonological and phonemic awareness skills by answering questions on task cards and drawing a tooth with each correct answer

Toothy is a versatile classroom resource. It can be used for whole group instruction, small group instruction, independent skill practice, literacy centers, early finisher activity, morning work, and more! And – because the task cards are completely scripted, it’s so easy to pass this intervention activity to classroom aides, paraprofessionals, parent volunteers, and older buddy students!

Get your students on track with the just-right instruction they need. Toothy is easy to prep and easy to use. Teachers and students alike love Toothy! Take a look at the following demonstration videos to see two different levels of Phonological Awareness Toothy in action.

Early PA Skills Toothy Demo

Basic PA Skills Toothy Demo

Advanced PA Skills Toothy Demo

See what a difference Phonological Awareness Toothy can make for your little learners! Have you tried Toothy in the classroom yet? Tell us in the comments below!

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toothy task kits

Phonological Awareness Toothy

tools to assess phonological and phonemic awareness

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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