We get lots of questions about our classroom design. Specifically, the how and why of each area of the classroom. Today we’re doing to show you our small group instruction…
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Do you love fun activities for kindergarten? Today I’m sharing an easy, cheap, fun, hands-on way to work on letter recognition and sounds. What’s great about this sorting activity…
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I am excited to about our summer book study with our friend Abby from Kindergarten Chaos. The summer book study has become a tradition for us. We love going on…
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I am excited to about our summer book study with our friend Abby from Kindergarten Chaos. The summer book study has become a tradition for us. We love going on this journey together and learning and growing so we can be the best teachers possible. Since this journey focuses on teaching reading and will include much about the science of reading (SOR), this will be a JUDGEMENT FREE journey. No shaming. Just teachers learning together!
Our book this summer is Know Better, Do Better. We chose this book because it focuses on the foundations of reading so it seemed like the perfect book for summer!
Chapter 5: Systematic Phonics
Here are my takeaways from chapter 5:
The first takeaway for me was something that was actually a struggle for me this year. Our district adopted a foundational skills curriculum and we didn’t introduce letter names until late in the school year. I can say this. I noticed the struggle my kids had in making the connection that the sound was spelled by the letter. After seeing the struggle, I was very encouraged to see that the research says to learn the sound and letter name TOGETHER!
Another takeaway was the discussion about consistent lessons and practices. You see, this is exactly why we created our TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum to follow the same routines and activities across the curriculum. This intentional design is more productive for the kids and makes our jobs easier! That’s one of the things to keep in mind about the science of reading: it makes our job of teaching reading and writing easier!!
My next takeaway was the discussion about how we learn words better out of context BUT we read the words better in context. This made me reflect on our classroom and our practices. With TKS BOOTCAMP we do both. We’re learning the phonics pattern and words out of context with our circle charts, blending activities, and word writing. We’re reading the words (and practicing our phonics patterns) in context using our decodable readers. This was definitely an aha moment for me because we hear so much on social media about phonics must be learned in context so I was glad to know that what we’re doing is a best practice and supported by brain science!
And this…PHONICS SHOULD BE FUN!!!! TKS BOOTCAMP is fun because the kids are thinking of words and I’m drawing the pictures. But we also have fun with word writing with dry erase boards, chalkboards, and Frisbees. We play games and we use songs. Sometimes, you dress up as Richard Simmons to lead phonics!
Another fun way to work on phonics is with Frisbees. Instead of using dry erase boards, grab some Frisbees (set the rules that we don’t throw them!) and do some word work on Frisbees!
Systematic And Explicit Phonics
I appreciated the way that the authors discussed systematic and explicit phonics lessons. These are definitely buzz words in education so having it laid out so clearly was very helpful and reassuring.
Explicit means we are teaching them the phonics pattern very directly. It’s not a brief introduction and then they figure out. It’s us teaching them the sound, the spelling and then giving them lots of practice! We literally say “today we’re learning ET” and we’re repeating that explicit instruction. We are literally teaching them to spell “et” by modeling the segmenting and writing. So everything is very direct.
This video of Word Family Bootcamp shows this explicit instruction in action.
These pictures show the “ritualized” instruction of TKS BOOTCAMP but it also shows the systematic approach. We start with ABC BOOTCAMP (letters and sounds), then we do Word Family Bootcamp (CVC words), Blends Bootcamp (blends and digraphs), and Vowel Bootcamp (CVC-e) and we end with Vowel Teams (r controlled, vowel pairs). This scope and sequence is based on best practices and research and has been very effective in our classroom. But to be transparent: Blends Bootcamp and Vowel Bootcamp have flip-flopped in our order over the years and they even end up being done together. This looks like doing digraphs then CVC-e words and then blends so they all flow together.
You can download our TKS BOOTCAMP scope and sequence by clicking the image:
If you’re looking for a resource that has everything you need for systematic and explicit phonics instruction, TKS BOOTCAMP is just what you want! It has everything you need. Systematic with a scope and sequence. Explicit instruction that is consistent across the curriculum. Ample opportunity for practice and differentiation. (NOTE: The entire curriculum is currently being updated with new resources, instructions, and activities!)
One activity that was mentioned in this chapter is word sorts. Ya’ll. This was another powerful moment for me. When I first started teaching 2nd grade we did DSA (developmental spelling analysis) using Words Our Way. This was word sorts. We did sorts and we did word writing with our words. When I moved to kindergarten, I brought this to kindergarten. I remember that the kids loved the sorts and those sorts were powerful learning tools. So reading this is encouraging me to bring these back in some fashion. (NOTE: We’re currently updating our entire TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum and they will include sorts!)
We have some older blog posts explaining our word sorts that are linked at the end of this post!
This chapter also had a very interesting discussion on decodable texts.
The first point that I want to highlight is this: using decodable texts does NOT kill the love of reading. Ya’ll. Kids love books and they love being read to. We must continue to nurture that love of reading in our classrooms. My kids love getting books and reading them with their friends. They love when I read to them. They love reading their decodable books and poems. Don’t let social media tell you that the love of reading isn’t important. BECAUSE IT IS!!!!
The best use of decodable texts is in kindergarten and first grade so kids are learning that words can be known words and that words can be read. And this helps them get those phonics patterns into long-term memory.
A decodable word is a word that is made of KNOWN phonics patterns. It’s not necessarily words that they know or learned in direct instruction. For example: we learned “map”, “cap”, “lap” in direct instruction. But in our decodable text, we have “sap”. Students can decode this word because they know the s-a-p sounds.
Make sure you’re spending plenty of time with your decodable texts and you’re working on comprehension and vocabulary! Remember, there are five components to reading (not just phonics despite what social media says!). Decodable texts allow you to work on phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
Finally, the research is clear that students don’t need ONLY DECODABLE TEXTS! They need a healthy “reading diet” of all kinds of books!
Now we want to hear from you!
Leave your thoughts in the comments and join us on Facebook for more discussion!
And make sure to visit Kindergarten Chaos to read Abby’s thoughts on chapter 5!
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