We all know the importance of early literacy skills. But are you confident that the skills you’re teaching are actually being mastered?
There are three key tips you need to keep in mind if you are getting ready to start planning for foundational skills mastery instruction.
Reviewing the Foundational Skills
Let’s back up and make sure we are clear on what skills we’re referring to when we talk about foundational skills. These are the early literacy skills kids have to have in place in order to get to that end goal of being able to comprehend text. These include:
- Print Awareness
- Phonological Awareness
- Phonics Sound-Spelling
These are the skills we want to ensure that students have mastered. This requires us to make sure we can provide opportunities to not only teach these skills but provide time to practice and apply these skills. Introducing a skill without following it up with enough practice time can lead to a lot of wasted energy for you and your students.
1 – Make Sure You’re Teaching the Right Skills
We need to ensure students have print concepts in place when planning foundational skills mastery. Do students know how to hold a book in the right way? Students need to be able to identify the front of a book, the back of a book, and know that print moves from left to right. They also need to know the difference between letters, words, and sentences. They need to know the purpose of spaces and punctuation.
Additionally, students need to have skills that show their phonological awareness. If you want to know more about the skills that phonological awareness includes, you can check out this training here. There are a lot of skills in this area that are big predictors of how successful a student will be in reading.
Another important skill students need to master is letter knowledge. Kids need to know letter names and the sounds those letters make. This is also where sight word mastery comes into play. We know that 300 words make up 67% of text. If we know we are teaching sight words explicitly and systematically along with our phonics instruction, we know students will have all they need in order to decode text.
2 – Plan for Systematic Instruction
Research shows that systematic instruction is key to a student’s reading success. When planning foundational skills mastery, we don’t want to select different skills to teach randomly. We want to ensure that they are presented to students in an order that moves from basic to complex. The best way to do this is to use a phonics scope and sequence to plan your instruction throughout the year. As part of planning for foundational skills mastery, it’s also important to build in plenty of time for students to practice and review the skills we are introducing.
3 – Ensure You’re Using the Right Material
Once you’ve given your students those foundational skills, you’ve planned out how and when students will learn and practice those skills, we have to make sure we have the best material prepared for students to use.
You may be thinking that you agree how important all of this is. But if you’re worried you won’t be able to include all of these pieces in your instruction, I have a resource that will relieve all that stress. It’s the Foundational Skills Mastery Units.
Included in this resource are all of the key foundational skills students need to have in place in order to become readers. It includes a scope and sequence as well as the materials you need to cover all those skills. All of it ready for you to print and use! It’s so carefully designed that I know that If you can implement this over the course of seven months, your kids will become all-star readers!