Phonological Reading Strategies for Elementary Students From the Teaching Reading Sourcebook

Phonological awareness, or the ability of students to understand the sounds within the English language, is one of the 5 pillars of reading and a strong predictor of reading success. Developing phonemic awareness — the ability to separate words into sounds and eventually blend those sounds to form a word — is one of the first skills students should learn to build a strong foundation for reading.

Teaching Student Phonological Awareness and Providing Phonological Awareness Intervention

All students will develop phonological awareness at their own pace. However, for some it might come more naturally than it does for others. When students are struggling to develop phonological awareness, it is important to provide research-based reading interventions, specifically phonological awareness intervention, to prevent them from falling behind their peers.

In this webinar from the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education (CORE), walk through real-life reading interventions for elementary students and research-based reading strategies for elementary students, including strategies for teaching phonological awareness. Review specific strategies you can use when developing phonemic awareness and planning reading interventions for elementary students around phonological awareness.

All of the strategies for teaching phonological awareness and providing phonological awareness intervention shared in the webinar are extracted from the Teaching Reading Sourcebook, a widely renowned, hands-on textbook by CORE President Linda Diamond that covers the key elements of an effective reading program when teaching elementary students the 5 pillars of reading. Watch the webinar, and read the Teaching Reading Sourcebook, for teaching tips, reading interventions for elementary students, suggestions for teaching English learners, and more.

Below are three of the strategies for teaching phonological awareness and providing research-based reading interventions for elementary students that you’ll explore in this webinar.

Research-Based Reading Strategies for Developing Phonological Awareness: Example 1

Elkonin sound boxes are one of the reading interventions for elementary students that teachers should have in their toolkit. Sound boxes provide a multi-sensory, visual representation of phonological awareness for students. In this exercise, students are provided a picture, such as a drawing of the sun. Below the picture are sound boxes. Students then place objects (marbles, candies, beads, etc.) in each box to isolate and represent the different sounds associated with the object in the picture.
Developing Phonological Awareness:

Research-Based Reading Strategies for Developing Phonological Awareness: Example 2

The webinar also walks through an explicit phonics lesson sequence that you can use when teaching phonological awareness. Learn the different steps, in this case six, that you can take to build a lesson that takes students from concept to application, from developing students’ phonemic awareness for a specific letter sound to applying that sound to decodable text and completing word work for decoding and encoding.

Developing Phonological Awareness

Research-Based Reading Strategies for Developing Phonological Awareness: Example 3

Walk through various blending routines you can incorporate into phonological awareness intervention and lessons. The various tactile routines shown in the webinar — sound-by-sound blending, continuous blending, whole-word blending, and spelling-focused blending — are all effective ways to help students isolate sounds and blend them together into words.

About the Teaching Reading Sourcebook

The strategies for teaching phonological awareness detailed in this webinar are examples found in the best-selling, research-based guide to effective reading instruction, the Teaching Reading Sourcebook. This text was written to support educators in bridging the gap between evidence-based reading research and actionable instructional strategies for building key reading skills and developing phonological awareness. It includes both a research-informed knowledge base and practical sample lesson models like the phonological awareness examples featured in this webinar.

Tamura Oberie: And as Jillian mentioned, we don’t have just a one-size-fits-all. We really target our interventions, we take the assessment and provide the student with just exactly what they need. So we’re just going to go over a couple of our interventions, and I just want to point out, we talked about the CORE assessing multiple reading measures. But to go with that, we use their source book, and it’s CORE teaching reading source book. And it’s authored by Linda Diamond, and actually she’s going to join us toward the end of the webinar. And the nice thing about that is you can pick it up just like the assessment book. And it targets all five areas of reading, it’ll tell you what, where, when, how to do a skill. So in the area of phonological awareness, I just pulled up this page because this is Elkonin sound boxes.

Tamura Oberie: And once again, because final logical awareness is such a strong predictor for future reading success, this little skill created by a former psychologist is a very nice visual representation. And when you have anything multisensory or visual with young learners or actually any learner, it’s pretty effective. And simply what this does, the Elkonin procedures provides a picture. Here’s a picture of a sun and below it are sound boxes. So you have nothing, not a letter, not any phonics, it’s all auditory. And so with the boxes, you can put sticky notes in them, we use Unifix cubes, M&M’s, marbles, any kind of visual to isolate sounds. So the word son, you could say to the child, okay, let’s push up, where do you hear the S sound in the beginning? Where do you hear the U sound? Where do you hear the N sound?

Tamura Oberie: You’re blending, maybe you’re saying, where do you hear the U? And they’re trying to find the middle, the beginning, the end. Another thing just for those of you out there, another little strategy, we take string or tiny little string from the craft shop and get about five beads, tie the ends and knots and take those beads and use them for blending and segmenting. So if you have the word stop, ask the child can you move the beads up, make sure they move more beads over. If you have the word shop, you’re really watching, they’re going to move three beads because one phoneme sh is one sound, op. So that’s just visual multisensory ways that you can demonstrate that important skill. Then for phonics, I chose to show you this page because this is, no matter what you’re teaching, explicit instruction, this is an explicit instruction lesson for phonics.

Tamura Oberie: But explicit instruction is one of the most effective things you can use. And I’m just going to give you an example. If you’re teaching the letter A, you’re going to tell the student, the letter A says A, you’re going to use a multisensory skill. Maybe you’re going to draw on sand, you’re going to enter phonics into it. You’re going to write or talk about short A words, cat, fat, mat. And then here is the most important thing you’re going to do, apply it to text. So if you are talking about A , you’re talking about fat, cat, sat, you’re going to read a book that’s totally just using that skill. So the fat, cat, sat. And then you’re going to add sentences or writing, dictating a sentence. The perfect thing to remember about explicit instruction is to always take it from concept to application.

Tamura Oberie: If you think about teaching someone to ride a bike, you would tell them the mechanics, tell them how you do it. But unless they get on that bike and really apply it, they’re not really going to have solid effective bike riding skills. So that’s just an important tool. The next one is just a phonics skill from the book, and this is very visual, it’s blending routines. Simply you’re just going to put your finger, touch the M, say the M sound, say the vowel sound, take your finger and blend the two sounds. And this is just a good way to have students isolate sounds. Once again, that’s going to help them in the future with spelling and writing. So you’re just getting them in the mode, you’re blending, you’re isolating sounds. And you’re tapping and touching. And this one, I really liked this one. I’ll have to tell you, I sat with some eight-year-olds not long ago.

Tamura Oberie: And if you look at this, this is teaching the long vowel silent E and then diagraphs vowel teams. But it does the same blending. You’re going to touch the tea with your fingers, say the T some. But then notice you’re going to take two fingers when you touch the A and the E. You’re going to touch them together and say one sound. That sort of shows the student that that sound has one long sound. And then you’re going to touch the P and put it together, tape. And I really like how you do the same thing with two fingers, touch the first sound A and then take your two fingers, touch the vowel combination and then the N. That visual was just very powerful. And then I would take this to the decodable level and provide some books with long vowel patterns to help the skill get secure.