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Phonics: Readiness Skills

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.

Today I’m sharing my take-aways from section 1, Readiness Skills.

Readiness Skills

The very first line of this section was such a validating moment:

This is what our ABC BOOTCAMP is all about. Letter recognition, sounds, and phonemic awareness. If our kids are going to read they have to understand letters stand for sounds, recognize those letters in all kinds of contexts and forms (different fonts, books, decodable readers, poems, different handwriting…). In my classroom, using ABC BOOTCAMP, this is what we do. We learn our letters and sounds in the context of words so the kids are learning the letters and sounds in context. Then we see them in poems, sight word readers, and decodable readers.

On page 4, Blevins says that students need direct instruction and multiple exposures to print so students can learn the relationship between letter names and sounds, the motor movement to form the letters, and the visual characteristics. Again, this is what we do with ABC BOOTCAMP.

We incorporate our alphabet books in small groups so we are working on letters and sounds in print, in context, in a book. We do explicit handwriting instruction so we are learning to form the letters. And we build in repetition (so. much. repetition.) throughout the day to get those necessary multiple exposures.

A few other takeaways from the chapter…

  • Do a quick daily letter-sound review-we do this daily with our alphabet chart. It takes about a minute and we do it every day of the year.
  • Blending and segmenting are “power skills” because this is reading and writing. And if our students can’t do these skills, they can’t read and write. We actually work on blending and segmenting (informally) during ABC BOOTCAMP. If we have a CVC word for our circle chart, we will blend and segment that word!
  • Combining phonics and phonemic awareness activities is proven to have a major impact on students learning to read and write. Again, this is what we do with ABC BOOTCAMP and our TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum!

Readiness Skills: Changes We’re Making

After reading this section and reflecting on our practices, we are going to make some changes. Because, we can always get better, right?! Never stop learning!

Here are some of the changes we plan to make:

  • Daily Fluency Work-basically you do a quick review of the letters and sounds to build mastery. Review is important. We do this early on in the year, but we drop off pretty quickly. We will continue this in whole groups and small groups.

For whole group daily fluency, we will use our simple alphabet PowerPoint. We click through FAST and say the letter and sound. Click the image to download our FREE letter review PowerPoint.

For small group fluency work, we use our Speed Strips. These are used in our small group instruction and build fluency in letters and sounds while helping review as well. Students choose a strip and quickly read the letters and then we do it again with sounds. Or you can focus on just letters or sounds.

These are available in our Small Group Toolkit which is included in our Small Group Bundle. The bundle includes great resources for blending and word work as well!

  • An alphabet path! We’re going to use our SitSpots to build an Alphabet Path for review and fluency work! The SitSpots stick to the carpet and the kids will walk the path and say the letters and sounds!

For more information on ABC BOOTCAMP and the TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum, visit out TKS BOOTCAMP website:

For a detailed post on ABC BOOTCAMP, visit this blog post:

For your FREE Alphabet Chart, visit this post:

You can watch our FREE Small Groups Simplified Webinar HERE:

You can purchase ABC BOOTCAMP (available in 5 themes) here:


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