Recommendations to Foster Phonics Knowledge
Many of these suggestions provide effective ways to teach students to recognize and pronounce consonants in isolation or in single words. However, for phonics instruction to be effective, students must transfer their knowledge of consonant letter sounds to the act of decoding. One way to help students do this is to first provide direct instruction in the consonant letter sounds to be learned and then give students substantial practice in the act of reading. As each consonant sound is taught, you should provide short, easy sentences and/or stories for students to read. You may create these sentences or stories yourself, have the students assist you in their development through language-experience activities (see the Introduction), or use commercial materials that have been designed for this purpose. Students may need to read these sentences and stories over and over to master their phonics skills. The use of contextual material is essential because you want students to use context clues to assist them as they are learning phonics. You also want to be sure that students understand that the purpose of your instruction is to aid them in decoding so that they can obtain meaning from printed words.
There are many methods of teaching phonic elements. One typical procedure for teaching a consonant letter sound follows:
- Develop awareness of hearing the sound.
Say, “Listen to these words. Each of them begins with the b sound. Circle the b in each word on your paper as you hear the sound. Ball.... bat.... base.... banana....”
- Develop awareness of seeing the grapheme (letter or letters) that stands for the sound.
Tell students to circle all of the words in a passage that begin with b.
- Provide practice in saying words with the b sound.
Pronounce each word and have students pronounce it after you: “Big, bad, baseball, basket, beach. . . .”
- Provide practice in blending the b sound with common word families or phonograms.
Teach or use several phonograms with which students are already familiar, such as -ake and -and. Put the b in one column, the phonogram in a second column, and the two combined in a third column as follows:
b ake bake
b and band
b at bat
b ig big
b ike bike
and so on. Instruct students to say b (either the letter name or the sound /b/), then the phonogram (the sound represented by the letters in the phonogram, such as /at/), and then the word formed by the two, /bat/.
- Ask students to help you make a list of some words that begin with b. Ask students to say each word with you as you write it. You may then have the students themselves write the same words (on paper, small chalkboards, white boards, or magic slates) and say them as they write them.
- Provide practice in reading b words. Present sentences, paragraphs, or simple stories that have a number of b words in them for the students to read. If the students can read only a few words, you can use illustrations (or rebuses), if necessary, instead of the other words.
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