Showing posts with label Wilson Reading System. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wilson Reading System. Show all posts

Have to Teach Phonics? How???


Ask a teacher about teaching phonics and a look of dread washes over them. For many of us--we never learned to teach phonics while in our teacher education programs. For others, it was a literacy coach who brought over "the box" and said teach it. 

What's the big deal?!

Phonics has become the cornerstone for young readers. Phonics instruction has become the most controversial of all areas of reading education over the last ten years. Once the only aspect of reading instruction, it has now become one of five important components of reading education (with phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, vocabulary instruction and fluency building making up the other four areas).  {thinking decoding strategies such as "Lips" and "Stretchy the Snake.} Grab my FREE Decoding Strategies posters here.

The goal of reading is making meaning from text. So, how is phonics related to comprehension?

Phonics instruction plays a vital rule in helping students understand what they are reading. Phonics instruction helps the child to map sounds onto spellings. Decoding words aids in the development and improvement in word recognition. The stronger a student's decoding skills mean they are reading more and have a great word recognition bucket to pull from. In turn, increasing their vocabulary skills and reading fluency.

To learn words by sight, it's critical that students have many opportunities to decode words in a text. The more times a reader encounters a word in a text, the more likely they are to recognize it by sight and to avoid making a reading error.

Reading fluency improves reading comprehension. When students are no longer struggling with decoding words, they can devote their full attention to making meaning from text. As the vocabulary and concept demands increase in a text, students need to be able to devote more and more attention to making meaning from text, and increasingly less attention to decoding. If students have to devote too much time to decoding words, their reading will be slow and labored. This will result in comprehension difficulties.

What order should phonics be taught?

I teach phonics based on the 7 syllable types. I also make a point to teach spelling at the same time. I don't move on to the next skill until students demonstrate mastery in BOTH reading the words fluently and spelling with at least 90% accuracy. 

Start with Closed Syllables--Consonants and a Vowel {CVC} plus at least 50 sight words
Still working with Closed Syllables--add digraphs and continuing to add sight words
After digraphs move to Doubles, then Consonant Blends, and ng and nk patterns

As students master 3 letters move them on to other Closed Syllable Patterns: CCVC, CVCC, CCVCC, and don't forget about compound and multi-syllable closed {sunset or napkin}

Once students have mastered Closed Syllables move on to Vowel Consonant Silent E.  Work through this syllable type on vowel at a time--make sure students have masted one before moving on to the next. Make sure to work through mixing the vowels up before moving onto multi-syllables {fireman or pothole}

Then moving into Open Syllables such as flu, my, sky

Vowel Teams, I find are the tricky ones. I brake them into small pieces and teach like sounds together and then mix them together as students master the pairs. 

R-Controlled and Diphthongs, I teach the same way I do Vowel Teams--in very small chunks.

The last syllable type of C+le, I don't always get to (since I only have them for a couple of years), I start small with words they know and grow their list from there.

I teach phonics much like to teach guided reading. I do, we do, and you do. 

What about my students who struggle with reading? What can I do?

For students who struggle with decoding, often too much is taught too fast. Work at a pace that allows students to achieve mastery. Remember, the goal is teaching to mastery rather than just exposure. And provide loads of decodable text reading practice. Students can never get enough opportunities reading easy texts that contain many words with newly taught sound-spellings. Repeated readings of these texts will also be helpful.

Other things I do to help students achieve mastery is playing games. I provide students with syllable specific word games. Check these out. My students beg for more time to play and they are designed to be extra practice and can easily be added to literacy centers for students to play on their own!!  You can find them in Teachers pay Teachers Store.

Chat Soon,

What are Best Practices in Phonics Instruction?

Phonics instruction has become the most controversial of all areas of reading education over the last ten years. Phonics has become my main stay in small group instruction. Once the only aspect of reading instruction, it has now become one of five important components of reading education (with phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, vocabulary instruction and fluency building making up the other four areas). Phonics builds a strong literacy foundation.

Timing and Grouping

Phonics instruction provides the most benefit for young readers. The critical period for learning phonics extends from the time that the child begins to read (usually kindergarten) to approximately three years after. In studies, children receiving phonics instruction starting in kindergarten and continuing for two to three years after saw the greatest gains in learning and applying phonics to reading tasks.

Phonic instruction for young readers can be offered in any grouping configuration. There was no notable difference in children receiving instruction one-on-one, in small groups or as a whole class. The most influential components were the age of the students and the instructional format.

Systematic Instruction

The best way to teach phonics is systematically. This means moving children through a planned sequence of skills rather than teaching particular aspects of phonics as they are encountered in texts. Systematic instruction can focus on synthetic phonics (decoding words by translating letters into sounds and then blending them), analytic phonics (identifying whole words then parsing out letter-sound connections), analogy phonics (using familiar parts of words to discover new words), phonics through spelling (using sound-letter connections to write words) and/or phonics in context (combining sound-letter connections with context clues to decode new words). Regardless of the specific method used what is most important in systematic instruction is that there is a deliberate and sequential focus on building and using the relationship between sounds and letter symbols to help readers decode new words.

Modeling Followed by Independent Practice

Because the connection between letters and sounds is not readily apparent to new readers, modeling is an important aspect of phonics instruction. Both teachers and parents should model ways that a reader uses the sound-symbol relationship to decode unfamiliar words by reading and thinking aloud. The best texts for modeling are high interest or informational. These include (but are not limited to) nursery rhymes, songs, non-fiction books and poems with repetitive language.

Once children have been exposed to adult modeling several times, they should be encouraged to practice applying phonics to their own reading. This independent practice helps young readers truly build the connection between symbols and sounds. Adults should guide children in strategically applying phonics to authentic reading and writing experiences to help them develop good decoding skills.

Literature-Based Instruction

For many years phonics was taught in isolation.  Worksheets or textbook that asked them to decode and write lists of words is not the answer. Researchers discovered that young readers could not apply the decoding skills “learned” in isolation to real reading tasks such as reading a story or a book. It is now recommended that phonics be taught through literature. While this may seem contrary to the systematic approach to instruction, it is not. Teachers and parents should select pieces of age and developmentally appropriate literature that highlight the phonics skills focused on at particular points in the sequence of instruction. For example, if children are learning to identify the sound-letter connection in /b/ an appropriate piece of literature to teach and reinforce this skill would be one that uses alliteration (repetition of beginning sounds) of the /b/ sound. Plus it helps with skill transfer.

Individualized Approach

Because students come to kindergarten at a variety of different reading readiness levels, it is important that teachers assess where students are at and individualize their phonics instruction. One student may begin the year already knowing single letter sound-letter connections making her ready to work on blends. Another student may have very little phonemic awareness and exposure to print texts. Therefore teachers must tailor instruction to meet each student’s needs. This ensures they will continue to develop appropriate phonics skills.

Home-School Connections

As with every academic area, parental involvement is one of the keys to success. This is especially true for reading development. The more a parent can read with a child at home, the better chance she has of developing a strong interest in and ability to read. Parents should reinforce phonics as they read at home with their children. Modeling phonics use to decode unfamiliar words and guiding children as they attempt to apply these strategies to their independent reading helps them develop as readers. Teachers can help parents by providing information on phonics and how to use the sound-letter connection to decode words.

Wilson Reading System and a Smart Board

This year I have one group of Wilson and they are tech savvy second graders.There classroom teachers use their Smart Boards for Fundations. It has been fun moving daily lessons to Smart Board. With this group moving to a new book--Book 3. I decided to move the whole lesson to my Smart Board. I still make words on my table. If you are looking for Sounds and Letters for your Smart Board I have one here.

Moving this group from things being placed on the table (as the directions tell you) to being on my Smart Board has changed how they interact with the words. It seems to be sticking more. Not sure but hey if it helps them get the words, strategies, and skills stick--then I'll create it.

I only put the reading day on my Smart Board because the spelling is spelling--yes they would love it I gave them the answers but that not the point. The reading one you can download from Dropbox. Its in Power Point, so you can make changes to meet the needs of your group.

Have a great weekend.

A Timer and a Freebie

The last month or so I've had a wonderful time reviewing a produce from SmileMakers. I use timers for everything. I have a stash. Everyone laughs because I often have two or three timers out for groups-one for me for the group time; one for a specific task that they do daily like sounds and letters; and a third should a student need a minute or two. This year I have several students who need visual support to manage time. I reviewed the Time Tracker
Visual Timer & Clock.

I loved:
  • 3 colored lights and 6 sound effects that alert children to time remaining
  • Helps students learn to manage time 
  •  Viewing and a large, easy-to-read LCD display
  • Time break down: 80%, 15%, and 5%
Some challenges the timer has:
  • Poor directions; not easy to change times
  • The main drawback is that the controls are awkward
  • Engineering is horrible
  • No AC Adapter and to use 4 AA batteries
There is both a manual and an automatic mode, but they are both pretty similar. "Manual" means you set the amount of time for each phase, along with the optional sounds. "Automatic" means you set the total time, and the percentage of the total for each phase. Once you have a standard one set, you can reuse it but if you need to change it you have to do some button-pushing.

My students love when I use the timer. It has helped students manage their time for projects and settle my students with autism. With the programming challenges, I would only this product if you always want to use the same time span. I say this because you can set a default time which is relatively easy to reuse. Once set, I added voice warnings to tell students when the colors had changed. This is probably my favorite feature of the timer. When I'm working with students, I'm not always in sight of the timer and can hear it and check in with students from wherever I happen to be in the room. I love that SmileMakers has a program designed with a teachers budget in mind.

I love that SmileMakers offers Teacher Perks, added savings, just for teachers. Teachers will receive free shipping with any order of $49 or more or $4.99 flat rate shipping with any order of $48.99 or less. Teachers will also get special private sales & free gift offers. You don't even have to bother with a coupon code: if they're teachers, they will qualify for the free shipping offer!

It's been a while since I've had a freebie. This one is two closed syllable real and nonsense words and fluency work. These cards can be used for Wilson, Just Words, or small group syllable practice.

Wilson Reading System New Thoughts

This year, I'm starting with two groups of Wilson Reading Systems. For ALL of them they have been through more than a year of it and have MANY bad habits. One group, is starting back in Book 1, page 2 for at least the second because they can't read and spell the words fluently. These guys have only two strategies to decode words--tapping and sounding words out. The thing that makes Wilson a great reading system in cutting students off from using those strategies.

So, this year I have cut them off. No more tapping or sounding CVC words out. Yes, that's right no more! But this means I had to give them a new strategy to use. Well, that's been "Chunky Monkey." Those of you familiar with Book 1 page 2--you know it starts with short a and only a handful of letters. That's all you need to rhyme. When I started on Friday with this strategy, they were very shocked that I was taking the security blanket away but by the time we were done Friday they were beginning to believe me--they didn't need it.

Finding the balance between having them tap and sound out when first moving into a new substep and when to cut them off if very hard. These guys couldn't move on to reading more difficult material because they didn't know what else to use. Will, "Chunky Monkey" always be the answer no but as they move through (I hope) the other steps they will learn other strategies to decode words they don't know.

Besides charting and encoding work, how do I know they are "getting it." Simple. All my groups have learning targets and as part of that target is a quick self-assessment. This group uses Robert Marzano's Assessment for Student Learning. Each student has a clothespin and on their way out the door they put their clip where they think it should go.

 I can then go back later and record they responds. Currently, I'm using Easy Assessment. So far, after I have put the groups and kids plus my rubrics in, I can track how they are scoring themselves and share the information with others. Last year, I used Google, I had problems when it came to sharing the information with others and seeing how students progressed throughout lessons and over a month.

This version of Marzano's Assessment for Student Learning, is available here at my TpT Store for purchase. It has both the wall version but also posters.

I hope everyone is off to a great school year. My thoughts and prayers go out to my fellow Coloradans up north. We have blue skies and warming up before winter comes knocking.

Wilson and Fluency

I recently made some group changes.This is not the groups first year of Wilson but have not moved beyond book 1. My district expects students in Wilson to move at a pace of about 3 books a year--making this a three commitment. In many cases by the time we get to Books 6 and 7 their needs change and no longer need to be in the program.

Wilson is a balancing act between accuracy and fluency. If you know that the student can read the word without making a mistake then you don't have them tap it but if you have doubts than you have them tap it out. But you also have to make sure they don't become overly reliant on tapping--at some point towards the end of a sub-step you have to have to cut them off. That's where this group is. They have become SO reliant on tapping that even words that they should know they can't read without tapping them. This forces them to spend way more time on a sub-step than they need to because they don't learn to trust themselves while reading.

Helping students move to becoming fluent reader at each sub-step means building in a little extra practice for them. Like a fluency games help while doing word cards or while reading sentences. I have found that students need more than just this practice. So, I give then a fluency "ticket out." It is either word card in strips of three or phrases. The set below was designed with this group in mind and focus on reading phrases in Sub-Step 1.3. I also use the Fry Phrases as well with students. It takes then a try or two get all the strips read fluently. I also break apart sub-step sentences into phrases and do the same thing with. 

Have a great week. The countdown has started to the end of the year.

Sleigh Full of Goodies Day 10 Blog Hop

My students are hopping through the days to break. It's snowing today in Colorado. Not like I'm wanting a snow day or anything :) As many of you know, my students LOVE anything that involves a timer and the possibly of beating me in a game. Run Cookie Run has become a fast favorite of my students--I'm sure your students will find it to be one of theirs too.

 I have only one request. PLEASE leave a comment below to let me know that you grabbed a copy. Have a fabulous week.

Sleight Full of Goodies Blog Hop

I'm so excited to link up with some great blogs who are giving away freebies!  What a wonderful way to start out the season of giving. Yikes, that means Christmas will be here before we know it!

I'm linking up with Beth at Thinking of Teaching for a "Sleigh Full of Goodies" Blog Hop.

Be sure to check out Monday's Sleigh Full of Goodies at The Flying Teacher.

Happy hopping and downloading.

Wilson and Making Words

My students dread making words or in their minds spelling. They think spelling and that  counts. Its hard for them to think of it as just making words to practice spelling the words they can read.  That way when you get to the a spelling test you get them right. Even dictation is NOT a spelling test. Its practice.But we need LOTS of help with spelling the words we are learning to read.

I found this app with letters and was like lets try practice making words with this. And what fun we had practicing making words with MagLetters Lite. The app works just like fridge magnets. Because iPads are multi-touch unlike a Smart board  students can help each other directly and show them how to fix the word. They had a blast! My district building techs were asking if I had found ways to move the iPads from "games" to having students use them to produce. This is one of those apps. Wilson doesn't allow for much deviation but how you do things with in the program can make fun. My guys needed fun on the last day before break

How does it work? At the bottom of the screen there are the letters, numbers, and symbols.  To move between them the students use the arrows. The letters are small enough that multi-syllable words fit. The background can also be changed. Students could do several words on a page and clear the page or just do one word at a time. They said this was on of their favorite "non-game" apps--better than white boards.

I wish everyone safe travels this week and everyone a fabulous Thanksgiving. Be sure to stop by my store and follow me to get updates on new products and sales. I'll be holding a Monday and Tuesday Cyber Sale at my TpT store.

Award and Freebie

I can across this quote over the weekend and it seemed like my life the last couple of weeks with everything going on in Colorado.

Last week, Storie from Stories by Storie blessed Toad-ally Exceptional Learners with an award. I have been blogging for almost a year.  I have learned so many great ideas from so many of you. 

When I visited her site, I also found out there are some "rules" for this award. 

1.  Follow the person who gave you the award.
2.  Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3.  Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.

So, here's my attempt at 15 blogs, in no particular order.  Oh, I know some of you are counting to see if I really chose 15.  I confess...I didn't.  If you aren't following one of these sites already, I encourage you to stop by and take a peek. In no particular order:

I've been working on making word study games, that I can use with either Wilson, Just Words or to send home for students to play for extra practice. Click on the picture and it will take you to my store. You can find others that I have made.

Word Study

No matter if its Wilson or Just Words, I have found the my students need more practice with Long A combinations and Long E combinations. Both Wilson and Just Words teach vowel consonant /e/ way before students are introduced to vowel teams; which is great for my students. They get a chance to mastery one before they have to take on another.  Word study also has to be built into guided reading. I try to pull it directly out of what the group is reading so that they can see and read the words in context. How do you use word work in your guided reading groups? Happy Sping Break--I'm off to enjoy Colorados beautiful spring time weather!!
Safari long a and e

Gradually Release

Over the last two years, my building has used the gradually release strategy from Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. In gradually release, the teacher gradually releases control of the use of the skills and strategies to the students. The expectation being students apply the strategies and skills learned in guided reading lessons to other reading outside of the lesson. Students should begin to 'own' the strategy as they mastery strategy or skill.  Guided reading is mosty on the students, where Modeling the strategy is totally me as the teacher, and in the middle is shared where both the students and I are working on the strategy together.

A highlight of their work is the learning goal; making sure that I have a clearly definded focus no matter what lesson I'm teaching. I weave my learning focus into my introduction. For example: Today, we will be reading another text that has lots of interesting information. When we read a text it has important things, sometimes something strange or not so important things. Today, we going to learn how to sift and sort what is really important and what interesting. This strategy is very helpful because you'll be able to use it with lots of different text.

For Wilson, this is far more interesting because it moves back forth between all three many times in a lesson but the lesson plans don't include a learning focus. Will I fixed that! I not have a lesson plan that includes lesson focus. I also couldn't find a lesson plan for think alouds and shared reading, so I made those as well. Just in time to use before Spring Break.
Modeled I Do Lesson Plan Shared Reading Lesson Plan Wilson Lesson Plan With Learning Goals

Wilson 3 Day Lesson Plan

Being part of the Building Leadership Team means that I'm out of the building at least once a month. To make sure that my students continue to move forward, I created a lesson plan format that someone without any Wilson knowledge could pick up and run with. Each  lesson moves at a quick pace with constant interaction between me and the group. The skills taught for decoding on day one of the lesson are taught for encoding (day two). Reading comprehension is taught on day three. The ensures that students get all 10 parts of a Wilson lesson. Enjoy!!
Wilson 3 Day Lesson Plan


I have a couple of non-readers that have been working in Wilson the last couple of weeks. They have become strong, accurate readers and ready to begin working on reading those words fluently in sentences. These sentences contain the words they have learned plus the sight words they have been taught. The color coding helps them know which words they can't sound out. These sentences allow me to ask questions about what in going on the the sentence--such as "Is the lid hot?" I can ask them "What's hot?" Yes, this level of comprehension is basic but its at a level that they can decode and understand. For them is very cool. As their decoding builds through out the year, I add sentences that match the words they are learning to read, so their comprehension can grow. 
Just Words Unit 1 High Frequency Sentences

Just Words and Wilson Reading System

Both Just Words and Wilson Reading System are great programs from Barbara Wilson. I have seen first hand how these program can take nonreaders to fluent grade level readers. Granted it takes a couple of years. One thing they have always struggled with is applying sound/letter knowledge to reading and spelling nonsense words. Students have to be able to apply their sounds to letters so that they can decode unknown words. One game that I have created that they have been asking for more is a small group version of I have Who has for Halloween. It focuses on reading nonsense words from Just Words Unit 3 and Wilson Reading System Book 2. For more information about both of Barbara's programs check out her website at

I Have Who Has Just Words Unit 3 Nonsense

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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