Friday, May 20, 2005

Phonics - A Step in the Reading Skills Pyramid


"Mastering phonics is a key to reading." - Everyone would agree.

"Mastering phonics is the key to reading." - Oddly, that statement is controversial.

Lined up on one side are a group who at the extreme, are a phonics-loving-let's-get-back-to-basics-types and on the other extreme are the whole-word-free-spirit-types. It is true that this phonics debate is somewhat ridiculous in that anyone who teaches reading knows that different children learn differently and that almost all children benefit from a balance. All children must master phonics: it's just a question of whether phonics should be the focus.

The NCLB (No Child Left Behind) mandate organized reading skills into five areas: phonemic (& phonological) awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. They recognized that without the prereading skills of understanding how sounds are like reusable building blocks to construct words (t + at = hat, f + at = fat, etc.) and a trained ear to discriminate between assonant sounds (listen closely and you'll hear that "three" is a different word than "free" or "tree"), a child will not succeed at phonics. ( Put another way, phonemic & phonological awareness are key pre-reading or pre-phonics skills.)

Incidentally, I just read a great homeschooling-phonics blog and a blog on the politicalization of the phonics vs whole-word discussion.

Time4Learning takes the approach highlighted by the Reading Skills Pyramid and believes that successfully learning to read requires mastery of several skills (mastery of phonics & vocabulary, among others), not to mention having dedicated motivation.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I found Time4learning to be great for my kids. I also learned alot as a homeschool parent from their newsletter. It a few short newsletters, it explained a great deal about how kids actually learn to read. And how they learn math. I particularly liked the phonics lessons.

Reading Skills Teacher said...

I read about learning to read on your other site. Its one of the first easy-to-understand presentations of that I've ever seen. I'm buying a poster of the Reading Skills Pyramid for my homeschool group. This blog also helps make it understandable with the long articles that tend to mystify & complicate. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

I think the Reading Skills Pyramid is a missed opportunity. The concept is great but the execution is not first rate. It should be cleaner & simpler. Try it again.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the SEDL language arts reading skills pyramid. Its got alot more investment in it (all the sections are linked to background info). Its targetted at professionals and is written at a high under grad or graduate school of education level. The jargon is way too much for it to be useful to parents.