Ready to Decode
Our Reading-Ready students are in their final weeks of preschool and were at last well equipped to begin tackling decoding as part of reading basic words. They used their knowledge of the alphabet and letter sounds taught in their preschool classrooms and combined it with the foundational phonological awareness skills of recognizing and manipulating sounds in spoken language that they'd been developing in previous Reading-Ready classes since September.
As part of this new beginner phonics instruction, the strategic addition of print in Reading-Ready lessons and activities strengthened students' understanding of letter-sound correspondence and led them to blending sounds represented by letters and not just sounds heard aurally or represented with manipulatives. Once the skill of decoding text was modeled and explicitly taught, with guidance our little readers were actually READING words... real words! It felt magical, and by the look in their eyes, the feeling was shared!
Our words targeted for decoding were thoughtfully selected from the collection of mystery words from the Jan Thomas books that we'd previously explored together using the students' keen phonological awareness skills over the last several months. These words were all familiar, short, and contained two to three letters that could be easily sounded out and blended together.
Here are some of the words we've reviewed and will continue practicing reading together over the remainder of our Reading-Ready class: nap, mat, cat, run, fat, on, us, and sit. Copy these down in large handwriting on a sheet of paper for your little reader to sound out and blend with you. Some students are still working on mastering their individual letter sounds, especially the vowels. When this happens in Reading-Ready class, we use keyword illustrations with a common picture that begins with the letter sound (ex: "goat" for "g") and mouth pictures to remind students how to form the particular sound using parts of their mouth. When going over the words above, provide as much or as little support that's right for you child so he or she can experience success.
- Johanna Sims, M.S., CCC-SLP