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3 Things to Stop Doing During Your Phonics Lessons

Teachers always have a lot on their plates, right?

Well, good news - this post isn't about adding more to your plate. It's actually about removing things!

Here are 3 things you can stop doing (today!) during your phonics lessons:

1. Trying to differentiate every single part of your phonics instruction.

Differentiation is great. Truly.

But if you've got a classroom of 20+ children with diverse needs...it's not realistic to expect yourself to be able to differentiate every part of your phonics lesson to be "just right" for every student.

Plus, if you're always teaching in a small group setting, typically students get fewer instructional minutes overall.

For example, let's say Teacher A has a 30 minute daily phonics lesson. That's 150 minutes of phonics instruction for every student throughout the week.

Teacher B, on the other hand, only teaches phonics in a small group setting. He sees each child 4 times per week, for 15 minutes each time. That's a total of 60 minutes of phonics instruction per week - less than half the children in Teacher A's class are receiving!!

Some small group instruction in phonics is very, very helpful. 

But if you teach certain components in a whole group setting (i.e. high frequency words, or spelling practice), that's perfectly fine - and can even result in a greater number of instructional minutes per student.

In our phonics program, From Sounds to Spelling, we recommend a combination of whole group and small group instruction. Many teachers, however, teach the program entirely in a whole-group setting - and see amazing results!

2. Expecting students to permanently retain a phonics pattern after a few days or a week of instruction.

Research indicates that students - especially young children learning phonics - need constant review. 

So if a student appears to have mastered the vowel team "igh" one week...

And then completely forgets it the next week...

Recognize that this is normal - no need to beat yourself up!

What you do need to do, however, is to incorporate opportunities for students to read and spell "review words" on a consistent basis. Because even though you've already checked off a skill on your systematic phonics scope and sequence, this doesn't mean you should stop practicing it.

From Sounds to Spelling does this for you, so you don't have to think twice about it!

3. Planning a creative, elaborate activity for nearly every phonics lesson.

We all love fun, engaging lessons - and those are memorable for our students!

But K-2 students need daily phonics instruction, and coming up with a super-creative activity each time just isn't realistic.

Routines help children feel safe, and they save instructional time. So set up a solid phonics routine, and stick to it.

YOU can bring excitement to nearly any activity with your level of enthusiasm, and by modeling curiosity and excitement for how words "work."

And sure - throw in a creative activity every now and then. But only when you have the time!

Conclusion

These 3 "stop doing" items will certainly save you time and stress! To save even more time and stress with "done for you" phonics lessons, read about the From Sounds to Spelling phonics program at this link.

What is Systematic Phonics Instruction?

7 Fun, Free Phonics Activities for Parents to Do at Home

What Are The Different Phonics Teaching Methods?