Each summer I choose 1 or 2 areas of instruction or practice to improve for the next school year. I love to learn and love reading to learn. So each summer I choose my areas of focus and read some professional books to learn more and grow in those areas. I mean teachers never stop learning, right?! This year I am focusing on phonics because I have an obligation to make sure our TKS BOOTCAMP phonics curriculum is the absolute best it can be. And because I want to make sure our phonics instruction is top-notch. So this year, I read the book A Fresh Look At Phonics and want to share some takeaways.

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Today I’m sharing my take-aways from section 3: Blending.

Blending: Final And Successive

Blending is how we teach our kids to read. We put the sounds together to read a word. The book talks about two kids of blending: final blending and successive blending. I’ve used these but we always call them bumpy (final) and smooth (successive). Final or bumpy blending means you say one sound at a time. Smooth or bumpy blending is running your finger under the letters and stringing the sounds together in a fluid way. I use both in my class and I see the impact that they make.

Blending is built into all parts of our TKS BOOTCAMP because we know that this THE skill our kids need to be readers. We blend words in our circle charts, we do word building and blending in our word-building lessons. We do small groups with decodable readers and direct instruction and modeling with our blending cards.

Best Practices

  • Model and apply blending daily. TKS BOOTCAMP does this with whole group lessons, small group lessons and centers.
  • Model 1 or 2 words and then let students do the work.
  • Spend time decoding words in context with decodable readers which we do with our TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum.
  • Use high-utility words for blending.


  • Less modeling. Sometimes we want to make sure our students are successful so we do too much modeling. I’m going to be much more aware of the modeling and make sure to only model 1-2 words.
  • Incorporate blending lines.
  • Make sure we use more high utility words for blending.

There was one part of this section that was a BIG NO for me. On page, 73 he writes to have students record blending lines to take home for practice. This seems like busy work unless we’re focused on encoding/dictation as well. If I want to send words home for the kids to practice, I will print them and copy them. We have to be careful with our time and copying words to blend isn’t a good use of time in our classroom.

Another takeaway and validation for me was sorting. We used to do daily word study which was sorting. I did in 2nd grade and continued when I moved to kindergarten. There was great growth in my students reading and writing when we did these. Unfortunately, with changing mandates/schedules these sorts got dropped. Now I’m going to work to bring them back. Possibly in small groups but maybe in the original, differentiated way we used them. You can read more about our word study sorts in the post linked at the end of this post.

One tool that we use a lot for blending is our blending cards. These are a great small group tool as well as for one-on-one instruction. These cards also have review and challenge skills built-in as well. But here’s another thing we do for blending: just write the words on whiteboard os smartboard. True story. We write words on the board, blend them, erase them, and do other words! Sometimes low-key and easy works best!

Here’s a snapshot of last year’s data from various components of TKS BOOTCAMP to show that it’s highly effective for phonics instruction….just for reference…


For more information, visit these posts:

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