The Great Debate 2

Part Two of Three

Last post was about whole word instruction- today’s post is about the
other side of the debate.

Phonics instruction is a “bottom up” method of reading. Students learn
the sounds (phonemes) that each letter (grapheme) makes. Rather
than teaching just one letter-one sound, phonics also incorporates the
combination letters (digraphs) that take two or more letters and make
an entirely new, independent sound. These sounds are combined to
make the word. Although there are 26 letters of the alphabet, there are
over 40 separate phonemes that combine to make words. Once a
student has been taught the sound-symbol relationship and a few
rules, they can start sounding out and reading words. Decoding skills
allow students to use patterns and recurring combinations to figure out
large or unfamiliar words.
Phonics instruction is not easy for a parent to teach at home. There are
many rules and exceptions and good phonics instruction requires
consistency and practice.

*       good building blocks for solid reading skills
*       better for students who have language development
*       once students learn the basics, they can start to apply
         strategies immediately
*       less guessing and therefore greater word accuracy
*       gradually builds skills/vocabulary until sounding out is not
*       does not rely on memorization of thousands of words- even
         unfamiliar words follow patterns and can be decoded
*       improves spelling because students look for patterns
         between sound combinations and letter combinations

*       difficult for parents to help out at home
*       rules and exceptions to rules can be confusing
*       irregular words are hard to sound out
*       may know the word but not the meaning

Next post- what method we think is best!

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