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Direct Phonics Instruction for Struggling Readers

As a special education teacher, I spend a lot of time focusing on foundational reading skills. Direct phonics instruction is a huge part of our day, and so important for my kids to learn how to be successful readers.

Although my students receive pull-out instruction for reading in the resource room, I try really hard to keep up with the grade level curriculum (Reading Wonders). I do admit that I'm about 3 weeks behind the gen ed classes for pacing.

I teach the same phonics patterns and follow the pacing from our Reading Wonders curriculum. I do make some adjustments as I feel it is necessary. Unit 1 Week 5 of Reading Wonders teaches S-Blends and R-Blends together. I felt like that was too much for my students so I divided the instruction into two weeks.

We start our weekly phonics instruction with a chart similar to this.

We practice reading the words together as a class. When I first introduce the words, I follow a "my turn, your turn" sequence. I first model for students how to blend the students and chunk any word patterns. I use a highlighter to show students the different chunks in words.

I use the same words for 2 days in a row (maybe 3 if they're extra tricky patterns). The first day we practice reading the words first as a whole group. Then I call on individual students to read the different colored rows and sometimes having them read columns just to keep them on their toes. :)

On the 2nd day, we practice reading the words but faster and with less support for me. After we've practiced reading words, students get to do their favorite part.

I call students up and give them a task such as "Circle the word in the purple row that rhymes with top." Not only are they having to practice their decoding skills, but they get to practice other skills as well. I'll use this time to practice things like:

*Deleting and inserting sounds in words
*Grammar such as nouns, verbs, or adjectives
*Categories like animals, body parts, etc.

My students love being called up to read and circle words, and I like that I can use this time to differentiate extra practice tailored to each student's needs.

Of course, phonics instruction wouldn't be complete without lots of practice experiencing words in different ways during small group. 

I love Sound Boxes for tricky patterns like blends since it forces students to really think about every sound in the word.

I use any extra quick moments I might have to throw in extra practice writing words and differentiating between patterns.

Of course, my students most favorite thing to do is play games. I've created a bunch of phonics games, like this Beach Days CVC Game, to give my students more practice while having fun. I love sneaky practice!

This Catching Insects game focuses on Short I words and is part of my Unit 1 Games for Reading Wonders. We use games like this weekly, and it's always a hit.

And none of this instruction would matter unless we put it into practice reading it in text. I use a lot of decodable readers and leveled readers from the Reading Wonders series, plus other books I find.

On this day, my friend here was sooooo distracted by everything that he couldn't focus on the words at all. Finally, I covered up the pictures so he could focus on the words and not the pictures. Success from a simple sheet of paper!

And there you go, a brief look at phonics instruction in my classroom and some of the tools I use. Next week, I'll be back with how I plan sight word instruction.

This Year Got a Rewrite

I've been silent for awhile now. It wasn't my plan for this year. I actually had BIG plans for this blog. I had so many blog posts lined up in my head and great things I wanted to happen.

I was super excited and enthusiastic about this school. I was moving to first grade and was thrilled! I've had a few rough years teaching special education and had become very discouraged. A new grade level back at my old school in FL was just what I needed.

I worked so hard in my room. I never got around to my classroom revel post but here are some my favorite parts of my room.

This is my absolute favorite place to be in my room. This rug from Kid Carpet! Everyday I look at it and love it.

I labeled everything! These AR labels can be found here.

 I organized everything, and it made my heart so happy!

I made this awesome AR Points Clip Chart and then realized I forgot the numbers 65 and 70 (it's still hanging BTW).

This bulletin board was so dang cute! Seriously I didn't even know I could love a bulletin board this much. If you love it as much as I do, you should check out Linda Kamp's unit.

School started and it was amazing! I loved these kids as we got to know each other.

We built our reading stamina (graph from The Brown Bag Teacher) and learned to be independent readers.

We did our first science experiment, and the kids thought it was amazing. You can check out A Day in First Grade for this experiment.

 And then it all came to a stop. :( 

During the 2nd week of school, our school got cut a 1st grade teaching position. We also had an open ESE (special education) position that was unfilled. So the principal made the decision to move me from gen ed back to ESE. 

I really, really loved my class. I felt so disappointed. Sending those babies home with a letter in the backpacks and not even being able to say goodbye as their teacher was heart wrenching. Yes, I still see them in the hallway. But it's not the same.

So now, I'm back as a resource teacher for 1st and 2nd grade. I have a sweet, sweet set of boys. But it has been a hard transition. I keep seeing posts about teaching the students you have and not the ones you wish I had. Well, I'm trying.  I'll admit that it hasn't been easy. 

Since my year got a rewrite, I had to give my bulletin board a new look. Thanks to Teaching Special Thinkers for this cute idea and the pencil craft.

 I'm trying to be positive and make the best out of what I've been given. Maybe I'll even make it over to this blog every now and then, too.

Reading Wonders Interactive Notebook

Hi everyone! I've finally gotten a chance to blog about how I incorporated Interactive Notebooks with the 2nd grade Reading Wonders series last school year. 

Halfway through the school year, I finally felt comfortable enough with the curriculum to start implementing the Interactive Notebooks as a way for us to practice the skills. Sometimes I would use them during whole group, small group, or as an independent activity. If the week was crazy, I would sometimes not use them at all. I would pick and choose which activities to use as an Interactive Notebook depending on our schedule and my student's abilities.

First thing, I did was look at the Unit Overview for each week to see which skills I thought could be incorporated as an Interactive Notebook activity.

I decided that Work Work, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Grammar would be good areas to use an Interactive Notebook for teaching or practice.

To get us started, I made each student a notebook and added tabs for easier organization. Having these colored tabs helped my students quickly find the area of the book that we were working in that day.

I tried two different printing options before I found the one that I liked the best for my class. I felt like printing 2 to a page made items too small for my students and settled on printing at 85%. By printing at 85%, the pages fit perfectly in a composition notebook.

I like including anchor charts for my students to use as a reference. Then if I new anchor charts up on our focus wall, they can use their Interactive Notebooks as a guide.

To help build my students' independence, I kept the weekly phonics and vocabulary activity the same. The only thing that changed was the new phonics patterns and new vocabulary words.

I made different activities to practice the skills found each week for all 4 areas.

 If you're interested in my notebooks, you can click on the pictures below. Units 2, 5 and 6 are coming shortly!


 I was also late posting my giveaway winner! So sorry!

Happy weekend!