How a Phonics Scope and Sequence Can Help a Struggling Reader
The goal of this training is to be able to understand the benefits of a phonics scope and sequence for reading instruction and what you can do to start implementing a phonics scope and sequence in your classroom.
There are many skills that a student must acquire to become a successful reader. The goal of reading instruction is that students have a high level of comprehension, but that is actually only the final piece of the reading journey.
First, students must have phonemic awareness in order to hear and manipulate sounds so they can apply that understanding to print, which we know as phonics. Once they can do this, they are able to decode, which in turn, allows them to build fluency.
When students are fluent readers, they are able to read a large variety of text which allows them to gain more vocabulary. The culmination of all these pieces in sequence is the ability to comprehend text.
It is imperative students have all of these components in place, otherwise they will struggle with reading and then you will need to work on how to help a child struggling with reading.
Therefore, it’s obvious we have to be confident that we are giving students the exact skills they need at the exact right time in order to become successful readers!
3 Reasons for a Phonics Scope and Sequence
Reason 1: There are decades of research that show the benefit of systematic phonics instruction.
To be clear, systematic phonics instruction is explicit, which is to say that we are telling the students exactly what phonics sound we are introducing, saying something like: “Boys and girls, today we’re going to learn about the long /a/ sound spelled ay”.
We are NOT asking: “Who can tell me what sound these letters make?”.
This approach is also systematic because we are teaching certain skills at certain times and in a certain order.
Learning to read is not a natural process like the way we acquire speech. Just giving kids books is not going to give them the ability to read. (If only it were that easy!)
Written language is a code and we have to explicitly teach those sounds that letters and their combinations represent in a certain order. Randomly pulling patterns to teach is not going to help students learn to read. We need a road map. A scope and sequence for reading instruction is exactly that!
Reason 2: A phonics scope and sequence helps with monitoring progress.
A scope and sequence can also be an incredible tool for answering two important questions:
What are the skills that students have mastered?
What are the skills that will require more intervention?
Struggling readers don’t master a skill the first time you teach it. Therefore, it becomes critical to not only identify the gaps in learning, but to fill them before moving on. I am often asked how to prevent reading failure and one of the important pieces to doing that is to monitor progress and make sure students’ phonics gaps are identified quickly.
Having a phonics scope and sequence helps to do that. We do not want to just address errors through mini lessons!
Reason 3: A phonics scope and sequence helps with aligning text.
One of the most overlooked pieces of reading instruction is offering students ample time to apply the skill they just learned in text.
In order to make these opportunities meaningful, teachers have to provide students with decodable text that matches the skill they are learning.
When we fail to do this, students can easily become quick to guess at words they don’t know. Students must actually be reading text to truly get to mastery and build their fluency.
The last thing you want is to get to the end of the year and realize there wasn’t enough time to teach specific skills and that your students are missing tools they need to become successful readers.
Having a scope and sequence in place will ensure this won’t happen to you!
If you’re wanting to implement what you’ve learned today, there are 2 things you can do: