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Why “From Sounds to Spelling?”
About the Program Author
Alison Ryan has been working in schools since 2005 as a classroom teacher, reading interventionist, and reading specialist. She is trained in the Orton-Gillingham method, has extensive experience working with struggling readers, and has a master’s degree in literacy leadership. Most recently, she has been working to open a new school in her community, where she will serve as the Director of Curriculum & Instruction for the elementary grades.
In 2012, Alison created the Learning At The Primary Pond brand to provide professional development and curriculum resources to teachers across the globe. Through her own work with children as well as conversations with hundreds of teachers, she saw the urgent need for an effective, practical phonics program. “From Sounds to Spelling” is the result: it combines research and science-based instruction with the features teachers need and want in a phonics, phonological awareness, and spelling program.
What's Included in From Sounds to Spelling?
Research and science tell us that…
- Phonics instruction should be systematic and explicit. A systematic phonics program progresses through a specific scope and sequence. Explicit instruction involves directly teaching students about letters, words, and spelling patterns.
- Phonics instruction should take place out of context and in context. In other words, teachers should dedicate time to teaching phonics, but they should also point out and discuss phonics patterns as they arise during reading and writing activities.
- Phonics knowledge is developmental. Students may develop at different rates, but they generally follow the same trajectory or sequence of learning (i.e. short vowels before long vowels).
- In order to be most effective, phonics instruction needs to be differentiated, so that it matches the specific level of the learners. This includes letter-sound instruction in Kindergarten.
- A traditional “letter of the week” practice should be avoided. Distributed practice of any skill (shorter practice sessions that take place over longer periods of time - lots of looping back to review) is more effective than focusing on one skill for an extensive amount of time.
- Review should be intentionally built into phonics programs.
- Learning to spell requires both general knowledge (of phonics patterns like “ee" and “ea”) and specific knowledge (learning how individual words are spelled - such as “peek” and “peak”).
- Multisensory instruction is highly effective for students with learning differences or special needs, as well as for ALL students.
- Phonological awareness (specifically, phonemic awareness) is a strong predictor of students’ future success with decoding. Phonological awareness can be improved through brief, daily instruction.
- 3 parts of the brain must be activated in order to learn a word: the word’s sound, meaning, and spelling. Instruction on high frequency words should activate all 3 parts of the brain - not just require students to memorize word after word.
- Phonics knowledge is a mean to an end (decoding and comprehension). Strong phonics knowledge typically leads to good decoding, which leads to good fluency, which leads to comprehension.