Reading Instruction

Various Approaches to Reading Instruction By: Katie Ferguson

So Much to Teach, So Little TIme

As the school year approaches, it is normal to feel overwhelmed with information being thrown at you. As a fairly "new" teacher, I understand. My job is to help you transition into being the best reading instructor you can be! We are going to start with the basics, meat and potatoes - what you MUST know and do.

Understand that there is more than one correct way to teach, and you will develop your own methods. However, there are some approaches that are proven more effective than others.

Phonemic Awareness - Substituting, Blending, and Segmenting Sounds.

This is taught through a language rich environment. Singing songs, chants, rhymes. Phonemic awareness is the foundation for all literacy.

Phonics - The Relationship Between Phonology and Orthography

Teach commonly used phonics concepts that are most useful for reading unfamiliar words.

Provide explicit instruction.

Take advantage of teachable moments.

Guidelines for Teaching Spelling

  • Analyze the errors in children's writing to provide appropriate spelling instruction based on their stage of development
  • Connect phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling during mini lessons by having children manipulate words orally and read and spell them.
  • Involve children in making words, word ladders, word sorts, and other hands-on spelling activities.

Don't forget to provide time to let students read to self!

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English Language Learners

Get to know your students! What is their home language?

How well do they know there home language? What is there home life like?

Do the languages have any similarities? If so, get to know the language, and point them out!

Provide explicit instruction, and allow time for practice.

Provide time for students to practice oral language in small group work, this helps them become comfortable in their second language.

Read aloud and model.

Build their background knowledge, it is often very different than your own, and others in the classroom!

Provide authentic literacy activities that apply the strategies and skills you are teaching.

Repetition, repetition, repetition!

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One of the most beneficial assessments that you can have is a running record! It is important that you are doing these with your students often, and that you are analyzing the miscues. You will learn so much about your students by doing this with them!

One method of informal assessment that worked well for me, was to keep an old record book and assign each student a page. I would jot down a few notes each time I met with them - both reading and writing. I was sure to write at least 1 positive and 1 improvement. It was a great way to make sure that I was meeting with everyone, and that I wasn't saying the same thing over and over. Many other teachers find that post-it notes work well for them.

We will also progress monitor our students throughout the year using STAR, and Fountas and Pinnell, and others determined by your grade level curriculum.

Whole Language vs. Phonics

Whole Language:

  • Children learn naturally
  • Skills taught in context
  • Memorization of words


  • Explicit Instruction
  • Skills taught out of context
  • Decoding skills taught

Balanced Literacy - combination of whole language and phonics - best approach!

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Create a Community of Learners - Foundation of all learning!

Provide plenty of books and resources around your room for students to use.

Have a word wall! & use it! Do activities with it, if you need some, I have a wonderful resource my professor, Jeannette Armstrong, gave me and I would love to share.

Be culturally and developmentally responsive to your students.

Technology Resources

I have included some of my favorite websites to use - Let me know if you have any to add! -reading is paid for

We are READING teachers!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I would love to help you anyway I can!


Tompkins, Gail E. Literacy in the Early Grades: A Successful Start for PreK-4 Readers and Writers. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2011. Print.