Middle schoolers and phonics instruction can be a scary combination. Being a Middle School Teacher for my entire career, I know working with students who need intensive phonics instruction can feel daunting. At my middle school, I am in charge of all tier 3 reading interventions. It has been a feat to complete these over Google Meets; however, we are back in-person learning, and I finally feel I can do these important interventions justice.
When I first did an initial running record through the use of the Reading Intervention Benchmark Assessment, I noticed this student struggled with words with vowel patterns in the middle of words, consonants digraphs, and lacked fluency due to the multiple errors. Additionally, this student struggled with self-correcting word strategies.
After the initial running record, I wanted to pinpoint which letter patterns were causing the most struggle. Following the recommended process of assessing phonics, I started with lists that tested CVC, CVCe, CVCC, and CCVC patterns. These were provided by my district and can easily be found by a simple search. The student was able to produce each word automatically. As we moved through the word pattern sets, the student showed difficulty recognizing and pronouncing consonant digraphs (ph, th, wh, gh, ch) at the beginning, within, and at the end of words.
Use a Sensory Popper for Dictation and Decoding
Step 1: Getting Prepared!
What I love most about OOTWL curricula is I can print and go. I’m old school and still rather print out everything. I find it easier than having 1,000 tabs open on my computer. I have a binder that I bring to every intervention session and simply tag the lesson we are currently on. Within the Phonics Lessons bundle, Jen has provided step-by-step instructions to ensure each lesson goes on without a hitch.
Step 2: Get Organized!
Organize your items the way that works for you. I like using the Mesh Zipper Pouches to hold all of my important items. The pouches are a great organizational tool. I place all of the I Can statements, markers, sticky notes, and other writing tools inside.
Inside the binder, I place all of the pre-made lesson plans so I can easily refer to each step. Using this organizational technique will help streamline your interventions. I also suggest preparing your word cards beforehand. You can organize the cards by lesson by colored index cards or using different marker colors.
Step 3: Set up your Station!
Since I am working with only one student, I want to make sure everything is hands-on. Using the Consonant Digraph Curriculum, I started out by creating the suggested anchor chart on a large white poster sheet. This size made it easy to carry back and forth between my room and the space I conduct interventions.
I set up my station so that the student can see the I Can statement and make sure all materials are ready to go. Following the structure of the lesson and using the question prompts on the I Can statement card, the student I moved through the lesson.
Step 4: See the Lesson in Action!
The student struggled to come up with words that contained consonant digraphs on her own, so I decided to have her organize the set of words on the anchor chart. We would use the popper tool to sound out each word and she placed the word in the correct category.
Step 5: Use the Balanced Readers or Phonic Passages to Support Comprehension
When it comes to decoding, the ultimate goal is that our students become fluent readers to be able to comprehend a grade-level text. Both bundles will help your student achieve just that!
What is the difference between the Balanced Readers and the Phonics Passages? The Balanced Readers are a great resource that supplies you with a daily lesson focus. If you plan on using these for consonant digraphs, you will be able to target one specific sound. This works well with my student because she continues to struggle with the /ph/, /th/, /kn/, /gh/, and /wh/ sounds.
This way your student(s) will be able to practice the targeted sound over and over again. Not only will your students be able to practice the targeted sound, but also work on their overall comprehension! Over a 4 day span, your student(s) will practice:
Day 1: Phonics and Vocabulary
Day 2: Comprehension
Day 3: Word Comprehension
Day 4: Suffixes and Tenses
The Phonics Passages are the perfect resource to target multiple sounds within one passage. Each set includes 8 phonics passages for practicing words with consonant digraphs, A/B multiple-choice questioning all focus on the targeted sounds, and an open-ended evidence-based question.
Both resources are research-based and have been personally used by Jen herself! I, too, have seen improvement with my student. She is fluent in reading passages that contain multiple words with consonant digraphs and she enjoys each story. I truly believe many students at the middle school level retract from phonics-based interventions because the activities and curricula feels babish. Between the words and the art, the students know they are behind. With OOTWL, all of the curricula is illustrated by Jen’s daughter, Maya Bengel. She illustrates characters that not only grab the attention of the youngest readers but also helps our middle school readers feel like the passages are meant for them. Each passage is engaging and even the most hesitant reader will find them interesting.
We'd love to hear from you! Comment below on how these resources have made a difference in your classroom!
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