Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Phonics Debate

Before I get too deep into this post, I wanted to share some good news!! Without going into all the drama and details, I have had some trouble with getting student teaching set up. First, I started student teaching in September but had to get pulled from that due to inappropriate behavior by my mentor teacher. Since then, I have been waiting for another placement to come through, but have not had any luck (that is one of the hard parts of doing an online program based on the East Coast while I live on the West Coast). Today, drum roll please, I got news from a teacher at the school I have been volunteering at that she would like to have me in her classroom!! More details once everything has been confirmed.

Ok, so on to Phonics. In my grad school classes, we have read and talked a lot about Phonics and the benefit of different approaches to literacy, and ended up landing pretty solidly on balanced literacy as the current best approach. I would be interested to hear my mom's thoughts on this whole debate, as she can provide some history to the waxing and waning of popularity of this whole "best approach" debate. In my current first grade class, there is very little emphasis on phonics, instead using the Reader's Workshop approach. This gives students a lot of choice and time to focus on just reading, which is great, but leaves little time for explicit instruction. While this works for the majority of this class, there are a few kids in the class that really have no idea how to read, and need phonics intervention to give them the skills they need. Given these student's needs, I was really excited this week when Ms. S brought out a phonics game she made based on one she found in this book.

She started the game by reviewing some of the sounds we have been reviewing, short and long u and o sounds. 

Then she paired students up and gave them each one of these game boards and a die. The two different colored post it notes are each player's game piece.

The kids would take turns rolling the dice and moving their game piece. When they landed on a spot, they had to correctly read the word and identify what kind of sound it was- short or long o or u. If they got it right, they got to stay on the spot. If not, they had to go back to the spot they were on before. The kids had so much fun with this game that when it was time to transition to recess, they begged to stay a few minutes longer to keep playing!! They even asked to play it again the next day. It was such a great reminder that just by introducing small games into a lesson, you can increase engagement and get kids excited. 

Since I began my teacher training, I have had the opportunity to observe in a ton of different classrooms in three different states. Even at the same school, each teacher has such a unique approach to teaching and I learn something new each time. My student teaching will be the 18th classroom I will have been in since I began this journey, and I love being able to compare and contrast these different approaches and take what works best with me. From a literacy standpoint, I really think a balanced approach is the way to go. Thoughts on this mom? How do you run your reading/literacy program in your classroom?

(Disclaimer- I take no credit for this lesson or the board, as she put in all the work and found inspiration in the book shown above, and I got her permission to take pictures to use on this blog).

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