Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sharing the Practices of Phonics Practice: 5 Instructional Approaches

November 23, 2010 by Terri Zezula

Let’s talk about phonics teaching. Actually, let’s talk about phonics practice.Together, let’s figure out and share what works. But before we start our quest forward, let’s take a quick look back.
The “Great Debate” between proponents of the whole language and phonics approaches to reading instruction and practice has gone on for decades. Essentially, the discussion comes down to the question of whether early readers should focus on developing an understanding of written language at the letter/sound level (a phonics approach) or at the word level (a whole language approach). Today, the most widely accepted strategy indicates that phonics instruction and practice represent the most effective methods of reading instruction for K-6 learners; phonics also has proven very effective in helping those who are struggling with learning to read and spell. (Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read, 2006)
So, what opportunities—systematically speaking—are open to educators to offer phonics practice and instruction to students? The National Reading Panel outlines five different instructional approaches that we can draw upon. Specifically, the report lists them as follows:
  1. Analogy Phonics—teaching students unfamiliar words by analogy to known words (e.g., recognizing that the rime segment of an unfamiliar word—the part of a syllable used in poetic rhyme—is identical to that of a familiar word, and then blending the known rime with the new word onset, such as reading brick by recognizing that -ick is contained in the known word kick, or reading stump by analogy to jump).
  2. Analytic Phonics—teaching students to analyze letter-sound relations in previously learned words to avoid pronouncing sounds in isolation.
  3. Embedded Phonics—teaching students phonics skills by embedding phonics instruction in text reading, a more implicit approach that relies to some extent on incidental learning.
  4. Phonics through Spelling—teaching students to segment words into phonemes and to select letters for those phonemes (i.e., teaching students to spell words phonemically).
  5. Synthetic Phonics—teaching students explicitly to convert letters into sounds (phonemes) and then blend the sounds to form recognizable words. (Ibid.)
Print publishers as well as online curriculum providers have created countless tools to help educators teach phonics as well as offer practice to solidify these lessons. But any practice of these lessons that reinforces and offers further exercise in these five understandings--inside or outside the classroom--has the potential to help solidify and further students’ reading skills. Guidelines for teaching phonics systematically can be found on many blogs and websites, including, where you can find their Current Practice Alerts publication on Phonics Instruction: Go For It!(
In such a discussion of phonics practice, we must make the point that any selection of technology to assist in the process should be thoroughly researched and proven in tests as well as in the field. Speaking specifically about the Fast ForWord® products, multiple studies have shown their effectiveness in building the cognitive skills necessary for reading and writing. They do this through development of memory, attention, processing and sequencing abilities, and by exercising early reading skills including phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
That said, finding what works isn’t easy; it takes practice, but it also takes research, adaptation, experimentation and creativity. According to columnist Ruth Bettelheim as quoted recently in USA Today, one of the key elements for effective learning is giving students what she calls “the pleasure of mastery.” Phonics is one of those areas where we can—with the right instructional tools—give students the practice they need to not only achieve success, but deliver that pleasure of mastery to help stoke each student’s fire for learning.


Reading Makes Your Child Smarter

Reading is known to have numerous benefits. It increases your world knowledge, enhances your vocabulary, and works to improve your reading comprehension abilities.

But did you know that reading can actually make you smarter?

In fact, reading not only can make a child smarter, the very act of reading can even help to compensate for modest levels of cognitive ability in children by building their vocabulary and general knowledge! This is a finding reported by researchers Cunningham and Stanovich in a report titled "What Reading Does For the Mind".

The simple fact here is that reading can make your child smarter, and that learning to read early on is directly linked to later success in life.

1) Did you know that your child's vocabulary at 3 years old predicts his or her grade one reading success? [1]

2) Did you know that vocabulary and reading ability in first grade strongly predicts grade 11 outcomes? [2]

3) Did you know that your child's reading skill in grade 3 directly influences high school graduation? Studies have found that children who cannot read proficiently by grade 3 are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers! [3]

>> Give your child the best possible head start. Teach your child to read today. Click here to learn how.

But how do you teach a young child to read, and isn't that the job of the school and teachers?

You can't be more wrong...

With the right tools, knowledge, and techniques, teaching young children to read can be a simple and effective process. I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic reading program called Children Learning Reading, a super effective method for teaching children to read - even children as young as just 2 or 3 years old.

The creators of this program have used it to teach their four children to read before age 3, and by reading, I mean real, phonetic reading.

I can understand if you find that hard to believe... In fact, I had a difficult time believing it myself as well... that is, until I saw the videos they posted documenting the reading progress of the their children - not to mention all the videos other parents have sent in showcasing their children's reading progress after using the Children Learning Program. After learning more about their methods and techniques, it became clear how it's possible to teach young children to read effectively.

It is truly within your ability to teach your child to read in a relatively short period of time spending just 10 to 15 minutes each day.

>> Click here now to watch the videos and start teaching your child to read.

1. Vocabulary Development and Instruction: A Prerequisite for School Learning
Andrew Biemiller, University of Toronto

2. Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later.
Cunningham AE, Stanovich KE.

3. Double Jeopardy How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
Donald J. Hernandez, Hunter College and the Graduate Center,

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