Understanding Phoneme Segmentation
A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound. If you have the word “cat” and you want to break it down into phonemes, you would have /c/ /a/ /t/. Each of those individual sounds is a phoneme. Segmentation is just the process of breaking things apart. So when we apply it to reading, phoneme segmentation is breaking a word apart into individual phonemes.
The National Reading Panel found that teaching phoneme segmentation helps students with encoding, also known as spelling. Therefore, if students can hear a word and break it into individual sounds, it’s going to make spelling much easier for them.
So when you’re able to combine phoneme segmentation with direct explicit instruction in the phonics sound-spelling patterns, that is going to improve your student’s reading and spelling at the same time. Talk about a win-win!
Make it a Two For One Deal
To make sure you are teaching both of these skills at the same time, you would give the students a word like “cat”. Then you would count the sounds in the word with the students.
Next, you would ask students to transfer those sounds to print and write the sounds they hear in the word. If students already have existing knowledge of the sound-spelling patterns, you can see how this simplifies the process for them.
Phoneme segmentation is a great skill you should be teaching your students explicitly. The goal is for students to take a word, break it down into individual phonemes and tie in that phonics instruction of sound-spelling patterns.
More Support Resources for Phoneme Segmentation
If you could use some more information about phonological awareness, you can check out these resources. You can also grab the Planning a Phonological Awareness Intervention Quickstart Guide.
This includes a full assessment of all the skills students need to master in phonological awareness. This is a perfect tool to help you close the skills gap for any students who are struggling in this area.
Lastly, if you could just use a refresher on the importance of phonological awareness, you should also check out this post!