Happy Tuesday Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals! It’s almost Thanksgiving, and our students are well on their way in their acquisition of English language and literacy. Now for the hard part: teaching our students how to read! And part of teaching them how to read means teaching them phonics – the sound to symbol correspondences of written English. Soon, we will also be teaching morphology (prefixes, base words and roots, and suffixes).
let’s celebrate our success so far
I see our adolescent emergent bilinguals speaking more, comprehending more, and participating more in class! We have successfully been implementing our theme-based lessons (This is My School!; My City; My Country; I Study English!; and The World of Animals.) Students are developing oral language and vocabulary within a meaningful, academic context. They are developing the prerequisite linguistic skills for English: phonological and phonemic awareness, alphabetic knowledge, handwriting, as well as basic sentence structure.
now for the hard part: teaching our students how to read
Let me start by saying that if you’re reading this blog for the first time and haven’t taught any of the preliminary skills – it’s NEVER too late! Just go back to my Aug 31st post on the scope and sequence of linguistic skills and start!
However, now that mid-year is almost upon us, the hard part is here: teaching our students how to read!
We need to track our progress (see my checklist here and make a copy for yourself!) and continue with next steps. In the scope and sequence, this is going to entail ensuring that students:
- know all their single consonants and short vowels
- practice reading and spelling “red” words (or sight words – words that are phonetically irregular and high frequency like the)
- begin blending sounds into Consonant-Vowel-Consonant words, e.g., hat, cup
- read CVC words in isolation (word lists), in context (decodable sentences), as well as spell words and sentences in dictation.
In order to help you insert these skills into your lessons, please see my linguistic skills slides, which I will update regularly. Simply download, make a copy and use in your lessons.
now for the hard part: How do i teach my students how to read?
The short answer is that you’re going to use the linguistic slides I’ve provided as a model and template. However, your phonics instruction will eventually follow a predictable routine. Students will:
- warm up with drills and red words
- read previously learned words and sentences; take dictation
- learn a new sound/symbol
- practice spelling the new sound/symbol with the digital magnets
- read a word and sentence list for reading fluency
- take a word and sentence dictation for spelling fluency
This whole sequence will take you anywhere from 30-45 minutes during the week, depending on how fast students are working. So, yes! You will be teaching one whole period of phonics per week. But you can decide to break it up over the course of the week as you see fit. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to control all the words to connect them to your lesson theme (ex., city, country, animals). But we will be able to show pictures to support meaning.
let’s start with one step at a time
If you’ve never taught phonics, before, don’t worry. We will start small, step by step and you can ask me questions if you have them. Go through the linguistic skills slides and simply start putting them in your lessons gradually. The very first step (after your students have gotten lots of vocabulary and oral language practice) is to go through the single consonants (b, c, d, f, etc.) and make sure they know the sounds. Begin by asking them to identify the beginning sounds of their vocabulary words, then move on to the drills. Next, make sure they know the sounds of their short vowels. After that, you can begin blending sounds into CVC words like hot.
We are starting with CVC or “Closed Syllable” words (syllables that end in a consonant and have a short vowel), because they are the most frequent in the English language and are critical to decoding. Over the course of the next months, we will also teach Silent E, R-controlled, Open, Vowel Team, and Consonant-le syllables. As we teach the six syllable types of English, we will begin giving students two-syllable words to divide and decode.
You will be amazed and overjoyed when you see how far your students have come by June. Just keep going – don’t give up!
Stay tuned for more next week! Questions, comments? Leave them for me below!