First Grade Phonics Instruction

Small Group Instruction

4 Components of a Small Group Lesson

  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics with Blending
  3. Spelling with Writing
  4. Decodable Text

1. Phonemic Awareness---Small group instruction should begin with a phonemic awareness activity.

Phonemic Awareness Can Be Developed Through Activities

  • Identify and categorize sounds
  • Blend sounds to form words
  • Delete or add sounds to form new words
  • Substitute sounds to make new words

Phonemic Awareness Instruction Is Most Effective When--

  • Students are taught to manipulate phonemes by using alphabet letters.
  • Instruction focuses on only one or two rather than several types of phoneme manipulation.
  • Phonemic instruction is taught in Kindergarten or First Grade.

Phonemic Awareness Instruction Basics

Children who cannot hear and work with the phonemes of spoken words will have difficult time learning how to relate these phonemes to graphemes (A letter of an alphabet, or all of the letters and letter combinations that represent a phoneme, as f, ph, and gh for the phoneme-American Heritage Dictionary) when they see them in written words. Early readers can show they have phonemic awareness in several ways:

  • recognizing which words in a set of words start with the same sound
  • isolating and saying the first or last sound in a word
  • combining or blending the separate sounds in a word in order to say the word
  • breaking up or segmenting a word into its separate sounds.

Examples of Phonemic Awareness Skills

  • Blending: What word am I trying to say? Nnnnn-oooo--t.
  • Segmentation (first sound isolation): What is the first sound in not?
  • Segmentation (last sound isolation): What is the last sound in not?
  • Segmentation (complete): What are all the sounds you hear in not?

2. Phonics Instruction with Blending

This involves explicit instruction of the focus skill. After phonics instruction, blending, with that skill should follow. Blending should be modeled by the teacher, examples done together, and then individual opportunities given.

3. Spelling Instruction and Writing

Phonics instruction and blending should be followed by spelling practice. This does not mean practice of a list of spelling words. The reason for this is that rote memorization is often in play with a spelling list. This embedded spelling practice, within the small group lesson, is designed to reinforce instruction. A good rule of thumb is to have students writing during this time (white boards, plastic plates, writing on the table with expo markers, etc.).

4. Decodable Text

The final component of a small group lesson is practice with decodable text. Decodable text should have only words containing skills that have already been taught and sight words that have been covered. Text is not decodable if there are any words or word patterns that students have not been taught.
Below is a video of small group phonics instruction that ARI provides. Fyffe uses it for first and second grade.