Learning Phonics Quickly with Switch It

Learning Phonics Quickly

Do you ever stop and think…why do so many reading programs encourage us to teach reading sub-skills in isolated instruction?

When you integrate early reading steps simultaneously into the context of words, it saves a lot of time and reduces your anxiety as the teacher. Because let’s be honest, teaching dozens of reading sub-skills to early readers isn’t the easiest job in the world. It can be very time consuming and stressful, especially when you’re trying to teach struggling readers who just aren’t getting the code.

In this article, I’m going to give you my top tips for reducing the amount of structural planning time it takes to up your students reading achievement at a rapid rate.

{To watch the video where I explain how you can get kids learning phonics quickly with the Switch It activity, hit play below or read on for a detailed overview}

When we stop to consider just how many reading sub-skills we’re expected to teach in isolation, it can be pretty overwhelming!

Here’s just a few of the reading sub-skills we need to teach our kiddos (but I’m sure you can think of a few more!):

    Letter Names

•    Letter Sounds

•    Oral Phonological Awareness

•    Oral Phonemic Awareness

•    Handwriting

•    Decoding

•    Sight Words

•    Vocabulary

•    Phonics

•    Word Families

•    Alphabetizing

•    Comprehension Strategies

•    Genres

•    Writer’s Craft

•    Composition

•    Fluency

•    Speaking

•    Listening

•    Grammar

•    Mechanics

•    Concepts of Print

Phew! What a long list, right?

Imagine how much time you could save by integrating reading instruction rather than teaching each part in isolation? Kids could be learning phonics so much quicker!

But before I reveal my top strategy for doing so, let’s find out what the main problems are with most of our existing reading programs…

Why should we abandon isolated instruction? 


1. Letter-Sounds aren’t added until week 5

Most reading programs don’t introduce letter-sounds until the fifth week. Instead, they tend to focus on letter names first. While letter names are helpful for spelling and alphabetizing, they aren’t that helpful when it comes to learning how to read.

Taking five weeks to introduce letter-sounds is a colossal waste of time because it slows kids down and doesn’t let them reach their full potential until much later.

2. Decoding isn’t introduced until week 7

Another issue is the fact that most reading programs don’t put everything they’ve learned together in the context of a real word until week 7.

Some reading programs will take even longer than that, which means our kiddos lack the basic understanding of words because it hasn’t been put into context for them until weeks later.

3. Segmenting of phonemic level doesn’t arrive until week 30

Most reading programs don’t introduce segmenting of a phonemic level until week 30. They start with the oral phonemic level, and they don’t get segmenting or connecting all the letter-sounds until week 30, which is a considerable delay in kid’s reading achievement growth if you ask me!

Learning Phonics Quickly

Integrating Multiple Reading Subprocesses with Switch It

Wouldn’t it be great if you could bring multiple reading subprocesses together with just one activity?

Well, now you can with the activity, Switch It.

Switch It is a core activity we teach here at Reading Simplified. It works by asking students to switch singular sounds in and out of words with a focus on sound-symbol correspondence.

For example, we might begin with a word such as “SLIT.”

The teacher then asks the student to switch out a letter of the word to create a new word, such as “SPIT.”

It’s up to the student to hear the sounds, encouraging them to work on their phonemic segmentation and phonemic manipulation skills. Once the student can switch the correct letter-sounds to create the new word, you can move onto four or five letter-sound words and keep increasing the difficulty level.

A solution for every age…

Switch It works for students of all ages.

I’ve worked with kids ranging from beginners to the age of 15, and each of them shows terrific growth using this one activity.

If older kids are struggling with learning phonics, it’s most likely got something to do with their foundation being weak. This means that they don’t see how sounds and symbols line up and they usually can’t read each syllable or sound in a word. Instead, they break down, which causes challenges in word identification, fluency, and comprehension.

Everything we teach in separate compartments, you can do simultaneously with Switch It. For younger readers, you can focus on easier CVC words such as SAP to SAT. When you’re ready to up the difficulty, you can use words such as STOMP to STAMP.

If your kids are total beginners and don’t know any letter-sounds and have never read a word in their lives, you can use the Build It activity first, and then move onto Switch It when they’re ready.

Build It is the perfect first step for brand-new beginning readers. It helps them to learn their letter-sounds, develops phonemic awareness, decoding and spelling. If you’d like to find out more about this activity and get your hands on some free lesson plans while you’re at it, visit this post, “Lesson Plans for Brand New Readers” - which is a great way to get kids learning phonics quickly.

If you’d like to grab a FREE sample of one of the worksheets we supply to members of the Reading Simplified Academy, all you have to do is visit our Facebook page and write a comment on this Facebook post – the free worksheet that includes high-frequency words will be delivered to you via Facebook Messenger.

For more freebies like this and unlimited access to teaching supplies, a supportive community and solutions for every one of your struggling readers, join the Reading Simplified Academy today!

Join the Reading Simplified Academy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Learning Phonics Quickly with Switch It

  1. Hi Marnie,
    I am a newbie to your website and I love it. I teach in a Private school and am moving to a Prep class (your kinder I think) in Melbourne, Australia next year (end of Jan 2019) when our school year begins. We have EAL students in our school mostly from a Chinese background and many of them don’t know how to speak English let alone read it. Do you have a specific order in which to teach letter sounds so they aren’t taught in isolation? I am learning so much from your videos already and wish I had seen them earlier.

    Kindest regards,
    Naomi

    • Thanks for your interest in Reading Simplified and your kinds words Naomi! 🙂

      Yes, we have a general sequence that’s represented by our Streamlined Pathway. It’s a 1-page scope and sequence of a kind. Each step includes key letter-sounds to target. Generally, we aim to introduce the most frequent letter sounds (i.e., s, r, p, t…) and more frequent short vowels as soon as possible. But whether one introduces p or t first really isn’t that important.

      You can find an example of 1 level of our Streamlined Pathway here.