Over the years, something that I have really enjoyed about teaching primary learners is phonics. I love the routine of it. I enjoy the patterns and rhythms of it. It never ceases to amaze me how those patterns and rhythms turn into avid readers by the end of first grade. It is nothing short of amazing! That said, one of the things that I’ve found since coming to first from third is that differentiating for primary can be a challenge. Even striving students can show an ability to decode some things. How do you get kids to read and understand on their level in a primary classroom? How do you KNOW that they know what they are doing in a center and they are not just playing? Well, I just took it on back to the basics. Nothing makes my life easier in first grade than my trusted friend….THE DECODABLE.
Decodable books are based on a specific phonetic pattern and build in an explicit way to develop confidence in readers. Decodable books are super easy to differentiate with! Almost any program that has a decodable book series has a phonetic progression. When you are working with primary aged learners you can build groups based on what phonetic patterns they have already mastered…and VOILA! Therein lies your differentiation! 🙂 So let’s explore some things that you can do with decodable books that are great for small group instruction and then can be carried over into independent work time. One of the things that I like to do a lot with my kids is sort. We sort lots of things, but especially words! 🙂
Increase the complexity by asking students to sort by the vowel and how many letters are in the short a word. For example: cat would be sorted with three letters. Flap would be sorted with four letters. Clasp would be sorted under five letters. You could go a step further and have students sort by the amount of phonemes…because the amount of phonemes can sometimes be different than the amount of letters.
When students are being intentional in their peer groups, I like to give them even more support by giving them question stems. I have a variety of stems for them to choose from when they are working on sharing what they know with their peers. At the beginning of the year, I used some stems that had pictures on it to help cue them. I also used question stems during my lesson time. Now that my kids are reading, they use the question stems that I’ve been modeling in the classroom. One of my favorite sets of question stems comes from Colleen Alaniz out of Texas.
|Interested in my sorts and recording sheets for short sounds? Check them out on TPT here.|
|Leigh’s Free Task Card RECORDING sheet|