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

Phonological awareness is separate from phonics. Letter names are separate from letter-sounds. And handwriting. High-frequency words are separate from phonemic awareness, etc.

However, when you integrate early reading steps simultaneously into the context of words, it saves a lot of instructional time. Zip students right into real reading, instead.

Additionally, the teacher's burden is reduced because fewer activities are required and integrating multiple reading sub-skills saves so much instructional time that s/he's less likely over-burdened by the overwhelm of too much to do.

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...

    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 various elements of reading instruction rather than teaching each part in isolation? Kids could be learning phonics so much quicker!

Here are 3 inefficiencies in a well-known reading program that we could tweak to give all students earlier access to reading... 

Why should we abandon isolated instruction? 

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

In the reading program demonstrated in the video, we see that it doesn’t introduce letter-sounds until the fifth week of instruction. Instead, the program focuses on letter names first. While letter names are helpful for spelling orally and alphabetizing, they aren’t that helpful when it comes to learning how to read.

Taking five weeks to introduce letter names slows kids down and doesn’t reveal how our written code works. Some children don't "get" the concept of the alphabetic principle (the concept that our written language is a code for sounds) when we begin with letter names. As a result, letter names (and sounds) stick less for these types of learners because they don't have a mental hook, or schema, on which to attach the flood of paired-associate learning of letter symbols with their names.

2. Decoding isn’t introduced until week 7

Another issue with this reading program examples is that it doesn't put the letter-sounds 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 the real context of reading for them.

3. Segmenting and blending of real words delayed

In this example reading program segmenting and blending with real words doesn't begin 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 what's possible for a child's rate of reading growth. 

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 (phonemes) in and out of words with a focus on sound-symbol correspondence.

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

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

It’s up to the students to hear the sounds, which encourages them to work on their phonemic segmentation and phonemic manipulation skills. Once the students can switch the correct letter-sounds to create the new word, the teacher accelerates the challenge by moving onto four or five letter-sound words.

A solution for every age…

Switch It works for students of all ages.

I’ve worked with kids ranging from beginners to high schoolers, 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 sound-symbol decoding foundation being weak. This means that they don’t see how sounds and symbols line up. Instead, their decoding break down, which causes challenges in word identification, fluency, and comprehension. Switch It can help remedy these sound-symbol decoding weaknesses.

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!