Phonics: Dictation

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 4: Dictation.


Dictation is guided spelling practice and is how our students transfer their phonics skills from reading to writing. Dictation is also known as encoding which is what we refer to it as in our classroom.

Here are my takeaways on dictation/encoding:

  • should be part of your weekly phonics lessons at least twice a week ( we do this with TKS BOOTCAMP in whole group and small groups)
  • students learn letter sound relationships and spellings as they write (this is why our TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum teaches the SOUND first and the letter is how we spell the sound)
  • dictation is NOT AN ASSESSMENT but guided practice
  • One thing we don’t do that we will begin to implement are sentences (pg. 95)
  • The routine that is suggested for dictation (pg. 94) is EXACTLY what we do in our classroom with TKS BOOTCAMP!
  • Another strategy we’re implementing for those students who need some extra support is found on page 96-sound boxes and replacing the counters with letters when saying the sounds.

Dictation And TKS BOOTCAMP

Dictation or encoding is a major piece of the TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum. Our weekly whole group routine for our bootcamps is this:

  • Monday-circle chart-practicing the new skill, blending and segmenting
  • Tuesday-word building-blending/segmenting
  • Wednesday/Thursday-dictation using whiteboards
  • Friday-review, sorts, etc

Small groups consist of decbodable readers and encoding and decoding throughout the week.

So you can see that encoding is happening over multiple days and lessons.

Encoding or dictation happens with whiteboards during whole group lessons. I follow the routine suggested in the book. I say the word, we orally segment the sounds, the students write the word and hold up their board. I am making note of who’s having difficulty and I work them during the whole group lesson, BUT, they will also get pulled into a small group for a phonics lesson that day!

But we also like to change it up….and we discovered that FRISBEES work like dry erase boards. Ya’ll, this is the beauty of teaching. Exact same lesson. Exact same routine. All we did was change from whiteboards to a Frisbee. BAM! Instant engagement.

Here’s a video of our encoding/dictation lesson so you can see and hear what it looks like in action in a real-life kindergarten classroom:

In small groups, we work on dictation after reading our decodable readers! Again, we follow the same lesson structure: segment, write. But the students are doing the segmenting much more independently with me providing assistance as needed.

For more information, visit these posts:

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