Schools are starting to get hooked back on phonics! Phonics is an essential component to literacy instruction. Because of this and the new information we have about the science of reading, schools have been pushing teaching phonics in elementary. While the push to include phonics is great, phonics is a beast all of its own which makes it hard to fit in! But fear not! I am here to save the day and tell you some stinkin’ simple ways to integrate phonics instruction into your daily schedule!
Why Integrate Phonics Instruction into Your Day?
Phonics is a fundamental skill students need to know not only to be able to read, but also to be able to spell words. Now, we know not all words are spelling phonetically; however, knowing phonics can help students with several different words. This is only going to happen with the two secret ingredients to everything learning: time and practice. Although, explicit phonics instruction speeds up the process.
How Do You Even Teach Phonics?!
There is so much research out there about how to teach phonics and most of it is different. Super helpful, right? I mean it can be. What does this mean for schools? No matter what program you choose to use to teach phonics, you’ll most likely get great results as long as the instruction is systematic and explicit.
What does that mean?
A systematic approach to teaching phonics just means you are going to use a specific scope and sequence that will teach students phonics skills in a particular order. For example, students will learn short vowels before long vowels.
When you integrate phonics instruction into your daily schedule, you want to make sure you are explicitly teaching students about phonics. This just means students will be directly taught letters, words, and spelling patterns. You will use very clear and concise language as well as other awesome methods to teach students to read and write various words. This takes away the whole concept of student’s learning phonics by simply reading and writing. Instead, the ball is in your court. I mean, if it’s in your court, why not play?
How to Integrate Phonics Instruction Into a Packed Day?
I know what you’re thinking, “Okay, Farrah, but I mean I already have a full day! What am I supposed to cut out to teach phonics explicitly?” This is something all teachers run into: not enough hours in the day. But what if I told you that nothing has to go? That would be a miracle, right? Well get ready for a miracle!
Integrate Phonics Instruction Into Small Groups
When I first started using phonics instruction in my classroom, I was scrambling to find the time. Then, it hit me. I can use my small group instruction during literacy centers! When I was teaching in my small groups, I would choose a phonics skill to focus on for every small group lesson I did. Then, I would play games and complete activities for that chosen skill inside the small group as well. This means you can catch the students who are struggling much faster than if you were doing whole group teaching.
What Does This Look Like?
This is a very simple process that you’ll be able to add to your classroom in no time! First, start with your small group instruction. During this time, you introduce the skill to your small group. Then, you model the skill to your students. Finally, have your students complete a hands-on activity while you guide them through the learning.
Utilize Centers to Integrate Phonics Instruction
You don’t have to keep your explicit phonics lessons in small groups. You can also integrate phonics instruction into your centers. Before we get too deep into this one, keep in mind centers should only be for review and enrichment. However, when your schedule is already packed, you must find time for students to practice their skills. Literacy centers are the perfect answer to this question. While this might be the “rule breaker,” you must create time. Centers allow you to do this without rocking the whole boat (or capsizing it).
Inside your centers, you can have students review phonics skills they have already learned during small or whole group instruction. This will allow your students to get the practice and review they need. Plus, many of your center activities are self-checking, so students can get instant feedback.
Make Writing Your Phonics Friend!
If you don’t think you can integrate phonics instruction into the above areas in your classroom, try integrating it into writing. Why? Because phonics isn’t just about reading. It’s about learning how to spell which then turns into knowing how to write! When you integrate phonics instruction, all you need to do is add the phonics skill that you had been doing into the assignment. This might mean using certain words or sounds inside their writing. This helped students connect the spelling patterns into their writing and increased their vocabulary! When you integrate phonics into instruction this way, your students are more likely to carry it into their independent writing activities.
Where Do You Get Activities?
Now comes the big one. Where are you going to find activities to integrate phonics instruction into your classroom? Not only is the school asking you to make more time for direct instruction, but they also want you to come up with new activities? I would never leave you hanging like that. You can find phonics activities in our math and literacy bundles for kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade. In addition, there are several phonics resources available in the Farrah Henley Education store.
I know it can be hard to find time to have explicit instruction with your students. However, using the three methods above together or separately will help you integrate phonics instruction into your day every day with ease no matter what you have to work with. Keep working and put those blocks together to create successful readers and writers!
Until Next Time,
Keep Being Educational Rock Stars