Phonic Basics for Parents with Website Links

Many parents of beginning readers have heard about phonics and many have questions: What does my child’s teacher really mean when she talks about phonics? Does my child need to learn phonics to learn to read? Is phonics most effective if taught at a certain age? What can I do at home to support phonics?

What is phonics?

Phonics is simply the system of relationships between letters and sounds in a language. When your kindergartener learns that the letter B has the sound of /b/ and your second-grader learns that “tion” sounds like /shun/, they are learning phonics.

Why is phonics important?

Learning phonics will help your children learn to read and spell. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of letters and letter combinations will help your child decode words as he reads. Knowing phonics will also help your child know which letters to use as he writes words.

When is phonics usually taught?

Your child will probably learn phonics in kindergarten through second grade. In kindergarten, children usually learn the sounds of the consonant letters (all letters except the vowels a, e, i, o, and u). First- and second-graders typically learn all the sounds of letters, letter combinations, and word parts (such as “ing” and “ed”). They practice reading and spelling words containing those letters and patterns. Second-graders typically review and practice the phonics skills they have learned to make spelling and reading smooth and automatic.

Children vary in the amount of phonics instruction they need and when they need it. Some children need very little phonics instruction, while others still benefit from phonics instruction in third grade. Many children with dyslexia benefit from phonics instruction even beyond third grade.

The purpose of phonics instruction is to enable students to understand the relationships between written letters and spoken sounds.  Phonics instruction produces the best results when letter-sound relationships are taught in a clearly defined sequence. Instruction must include the letter-sound relationships of both consonants and vowels.  The simultaneous presentation of both written words and sounds has proven to be effective in improving children’s decoding skills.  A number of websites can assist educators in delivering sequenced phonics instruction that encourages students to construct knowledge about the relationship between written letters and spoken sounds. 

Phonics Word Match: 35 phonics activities- Learners match the word to its picture. (Needs Shockwave)

Word Builder: 35 Phonics Activities- Learners combine sounds to make words. (Needs Shockwave)

BBC: Words and Pictures - Phonics Year http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/wordsandpictures/phonics/

Between the Lions . Games | PBS Kids
http://pbskids.org/lions/games/

Between the Lions . Gawain's Word | PBS Kids
http://pbskids.org/lions/games/gawain.html
http://teacher.scholastic.com/clifford1/flash/vowels/index.htm

Fearless FriedaSkillful Skateboarding
http://www.cogcon.com/gamegoo/games/frieda/friedalo.html

Fearless FriedaBig Kahuna
http://www.cogcon.com/gamegoo/games/frieda2/frieda2lo.html

Is this a word?Make "at" words.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_b_1.htm

Phonics Click and Drag Flash GamePut the 12 pictures in the correct 4 boxes.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_a_3.htm

Phonics Flash GameMatch blends and diagraphs to images.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_c_2.htm

Phonics Flash Game:Complete the rhyme.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_c_3.htm

Phonics Flash GameMatch lower-case consonant letters to images.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_b_2.htm

Phonics Flash GameMatch cvc words with different medial vowels to pictures.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_b_3.htm

Phonics Flash GameMatch upper-case consonant letters to images.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_a_1.htm

Phonics Flash GameMatch lower-case consonant and vowel letters to images.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_a_2.htm

Robot GameMake "wh" words.
http://www.nelsonthornes.com/primary/phonics/game_c_1.htm


Have a great week playing working on your phonics!


August Show and Tell Linky

Happy Tuesday!! Today I'm linking up with Stephanie from Forever in 5th grade for this months Show and Tell of my Mild/Moderate Special Education room.  It's hard to believe that I'm beginning my 13th year in special education and the beginning of the year is always just as crazy as the last.
I have at lest unpacked and you can make out all the piles on my teaching table. I spent today between collecting baseline data and calling parents--that pile is on my desk. But as you can see I don't hang things on my walls. Most of what I hang is student created and anchor charts they use. I don't hang things up student don't take the time to reference. I'm starting small groups tomorrow.




This year I have gone back to student binders. I want them to be way more responsible for everything. I don't want to be the holder of any of it. I'm hoping that this idea will help with building on Growth Mindsets, IEP input, and increase student buy-in on IEP goals. My district is huge on student voice and choice and innovation, my hope is that with the Personalized Learning Plans students will demonstrate all that and more. I'm looking forward to taking this idea out of a spin with them. I have shared this idea with my Speech/Language Pathologist and came up with some great ideas to build in a week of finish projects, progress monitoring, finish student choice assessments, and build in student driven next steps. Finger crossed this works.




 I created student snapshot folders for each of my IEP students for their grade level teachers. I'm hoping this way they leave them for guest teachers. I'm also hoping that it will help when it comes to planning and documenting accommodations. The district IEP system prints out the IEP information, I added Avery labels and documentation samples that I have found over the years to give them ideas or they could use their own. Many said they loved having the information in once place, so time will tell if this really does help them out at the end of the day.



I have one bulletin board in my room. I have been trying to get it to be interactive-last year that didn't happen.  So this year, I have tried to tie into our data binders and hope to have them use it on a monthly bases to show how well they meet their IEP goals.  As a building one theme we are focusing on is mindset. This idea ties into the teacher rubric. Last year my students worked on determination and resilience since many just give up. I think it really helped get them to grow as readers and work. I'm looking forward to see what they do with the idea of mindset and create pictures to support what it means to them.  Most of what I have been doing over the summer is working through ideas that would get them to think about what kind of voice and choice they want and creating a space that supports this thinking. 


Happy Tuesday!










Back to School Blog Hop plus Freebie

My top 10 must dos for each back-to-school tips I do to emphasize communication, organization, and a focus on student success.

1. Organize all that paperwork
Special educators handle lots of paperwork and documentation throughout the year. Try to set up two separate folders or binders for each child on your case load: one for keeping track of student work and assessment data and the other for keeping track of all other special education documentation.

2. Start a communication log
Keeping track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences is important. Create a "communication log" for yourself in a notebook that is easily accessible. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have.

3. Review your students' IEPs
The IEP is the cornerstone of every child's educational program, so it's important that you have a clear understanding of each IEP you're responsible for. Make sure all IEPs are in compliance (e.g., all signatures are there and dates are aligned). Note any upcoming IEP meetings, reevaluations, or other key dates, and mark your calendar now. Most importantly, get a feel for where your students are and what they need by carefully reviewing the present levels of performance, services, and modifications in the IEP.

4. Establish a daily schedule for you and your students
Whether you're a resource teacher or self-contained teacher, it's important to establish your daily schedule. Be sure to consider the service hours required for each of your students, any related services, and co-teaching. Check your schedule against the IEPs to make sure that all services are met. And keep in mind that this schedule will most likely change during the year!

5. Call your students' families
Take the time to introduce yourself with a brief phone call before school starts. You'll be working with these students and their families for at least the next school year, and a simple "hello" from their future teacher can ease some of the back-to-school jitters!

6. Touch base with related service providers
It's important to contact the related service providers — occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech/language therapists, or counselors — in your school as soon as possible to establish a schedule of times for your students who need these services. The earlier you touch base, the more likely you'll be able to find times that work for everyone.

7. Meet with your general education co-teachers
Communicating with your general education co-teachers will be important throughout the year, so get a head start on establishing this important relationship now! Share all of the information you can about schedules, students, and IEP services so that you're ready to start the year.

8. Keep everyone informed
All additional school staff such as assistants and specialists who will be working with your students need to be aware of their needs and their IEPs before school starts. Organize a way to keep track of who has read through the IEPs, and be sure to update your colleagues if the IEPs change during the school year.

9. Plan your B.O.Y. assessments
As soon as school starts, teachers start conducting their beginning of the year (B.O.Y.) assessments. Assessment data is used to update IEPs — and to shape your instruction — so it's important to keep track of which students need which assessments. Get started by making a checklist of student names, required assessments, and a space for scores. This will help you stay organized and keep track of data once testing begins.

10. Start and stay positive
As a special educator, you'll have lots of responsibilities this year, and it may seem overwhelming at times. If your focus is on the needs of your students and their success, you'll stay motivated and find ways to make everything happen. Being positive, flexible, and organized from the start will help you and your students have a successful year.


Click the apple to visit Reflection & Resources with TarheelState Teacher.  Below is a freebie perfect for putting reading progress monitoring in one place. Have a great beginning of the year.





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Data Collection Dred--With What?

Each school year brings dred and worry over how to progress monitor IEP goals and establish baselines. When it comes to setting and tracking IEP goals... there's NOT an app for that. I have tried just about everything but the advice I give is always find what works for you—otherwise it won’t happen. We all know in this age of RTI and MTSS that if they don’t have it there is nothing we can do. The same is true when explaining to parents if their child is making growth—without your sunk. Here are a few ideas to get you started on figuring out what works for you. This is by no means everything.

As we get ready to begin the school year, I must assess my goals for the year. A goal I always seem to make is to find a better way to document data for progress monitoring, especially for my students with IEPs. Over the past 12 years, I have talked to other teachers, scoured the internet, and made up my own resources. I have been secretly hoping that an app developer would come up with some IEP-specific apps that I could use on my iPad, but no such luck yet.

According to the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs, effective progress monitoring provides for accelerated learning, informed instructional decisions, and more efficient communication with parents and other professionals. This is why I feel it is so important to come up with an effective way of collecting and using this data.

Use IEP Goal Pages Teacher Binder

Use the IEP goal pages: In the past I have kept a binder that had only the IEP goal pages for my students and made notes directly on the pages. I was able to then carry this teacher binder around with me throughout the day. I always choose a teacher binder that is a different color than the usual black or white so that it would stand out if I was looking for it.

Personalize Your Tracking Pages

Teacher-created pages: I have made my own pages to document progress monitoring which include a column for the goal, date, notes, and progress code. I find transferring all of the goal information onto this page to be time consuming, but transferring information to the progress reports is fairly easy.

Tap into Online Templates

Last school year, a fellow teacher suggested checking out the assessment & testing form templates on Mrs. Perkins website. I must say these were a fantastic resource for me in tracking sight words and letters. Her simple format made it easy for myself or a paraprofessional to assess student progress. I could also easily send the form home for parents to review.

 Utilize Online Assessment Tools

There are a ton of resources online to save you time and energy in progress monitoring. One of my favorites for elementary math is Numberfly, which is great for assessing students’ number recognition. Numberfly creates your assessments for number recognition and has built-in tracking resources. For reading I use, Intervention Central. I love their reading fluency making, I use it for reading records.  I was able to also use a chart on the site to chart information to take to IEP meetings and the student progress monitoring team.


Still looking for more ideas-check out my RTI Data Collection packet from Teachers pay Teachers for more ideas. 



How do you keep track of student progress? I'd love to hear what everyone else does.



About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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