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Phonics Card Instructional Guide

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Phonics Card Instructional Guide © Ministry of Education 2012 First published in 2012

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF JAMAICA CATALOGUING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Jamaica. Ministry of Education Phonics card instructional guide / Ministry of Education p. : ill. ; cm. Bibliography : p. ISBN 978-976-639- 124-9 (pbk) 1. Reading – Phonetic method 2. Reading – Aids and devices 3. English language – Phonetics I. Title 372.465 dc 22

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form (including photocopying or storing it in any medium by electronic means and whether or not transiently or incidentally to some other use of this publication) without the written permission of the copyright holder, except in accordance with the provisions of Jamaica’s Copyright Act 1993. Application for the copyright owner’s written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to the publisher: Ministry of Education, Media Services Unit, Caenwood Centre, 37 Arnold Road, Kingston 4.

Phonics cards and guide content written by the staff of the Media Services Unit, MoE Design and Layout - Allison Hall Printed and bound by Eniaths Printers Ltd. ISBN: 978-976-639-124-9

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CONTENTS Introduction


Phonics Instruction What is Phonics Instruction?


Approaches for Phonics Phonics Instruction


Guidelines for Phonics Instruction


Explicit Phonics Instruction Essential Components of Phonics Instruction


The Phonics Cards Phonics Card Features


The 44 English Phonemes


Sample Card


How to use the Phonics Cards


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INTRODUCTION “Literacy refers to a complex set of abilities to understand and use the dominant symbol systems/language of a culture for individual and communitydevelopment… Literacy includes critical understanding, problem-solving abilities, and oral/aural abilities” (Bryan & Mitchell, 1999). In a knowledge-based economy, literacy is the most basic currency. Results from national tests in Jamaica indicate that a number of students are having challenges in acquiring basic literacy skills. In light of this, the Ministry of Education (MoE) invested substantial resources over the last decade in transforming the literacy landscape of the country. The set of Phonics Cards and the accompanying Instructional Guide are resources developed to assist in the fulfilment of this mandate. The set of 44 Phonics Cards were developed for use with students at the primary level as well as students at secondary level who are functioning below Grade seven (7). These cards should help teachers deliver instruction in phonics, an essential component of literacy which advocates the teaching of the sounds and symbols of language and their relationships to one another. This area of literacy is still very relevant as strong phonetic skills are needed for decoding, spelling and fluency. Without these skills one’s chance of succeeding in school and functioning in society is greatly diminished. The Phonics Cards Instructional Guide was designed to support the use of the Phonics Cards and promote consistency in the development of phonetic skills. It provides critical information on phonics instruction and articulates the key components necessary to impact this instruction. The concise organisational structure of the guide should allow teachers to quickly increase their knowledge of phonics development while also creating an opportunity for closer study of the individual phonemes that will be most useful to their unique set of students. The Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring the conditions that will enable the achievement of 85% percent literacy by 2015. Consequently, the MoE aims to provide innovative resources that will help teachers with the delivery of the curricula so that students can accelerate in literacy in order to successfully function at or above grade level. Cognizant of the fact, that no single methodology or resource can successfully teach students to be literate, the MoE encourages educators to incorporate and use a broad range of methodologies and strategies with the Phonics Cards to address the instructional needs of each unique learner.


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PHONICS INSTRUCTION WHAT IS PHONICS INSTRUCTION? Phonics instruction teaches the relationships between the letters (graphemes) of written language and the individual sounds (phonemes) of spoken language. It teaches how to use these relationships to read and write. The goal of phonics instruction is to help learners understand that there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds. Knowledge of letter-sound correspondences will help students recognize familiar words automatically and decode new words accurately, both in isolation and in context. Phonics instruction provides key knowledge and skills needed for reading. However, phonics should not be the entire reading programme, but should be integrated in a complete literacy and language arts programme. Phonics instruction should be systematic and explicit. It should be fast-paced, multi-modal, fun, and well structured. Instruction in phonics should help students manipulate phonemes, individual letters and blends, as well as other linguistic structures. It should also guide learners in identifying and using patterns within onsets and rimes. Effective phonics instruction should focus on connecting students’ prior knowledge with new information and should teach decoding in context, rather than learning rules in isolation. Phonics must always be tied to meaning because, without comprehension true reading has not taken place.

Research Findings About Phonics Instruction 1. Phonics Instruction can help students to learn. 2. Explicit phonics instruction is more beneficial then implicit phonics instruction. 3. Most poor readers have weak phonics skills. 4. Phonics knowledge has a powerful effect on decoding ability. 5 . P h o n e m i c awareness is necessary for phonics instruction. 6. Phonics instruction improves spelling. 7. A teacher’s knowledge of phonics affects his or her ability to teach phonics. Phonics A to Z by Wiley Blevins (Scholastic 2006)


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PHONICS INSTRUCTION APPROACHES FOR PHONICS INSTRUCTION Most educators are acquainted with several approaches to phonics instruction, including those listed below. Please note that the distinctions between approaches are not absolute (fluid), and throughout the year teachers will need to combine approaches for an effective phonics programme. Synthetic Phonics - Students are taught how to convert individual letters or letter combinations into sounds, and then how to blend the sounds together to form recognizable words. For example, students are taught the letters “m”, “a”, “n” and the corresponding sounds /m/ /a/ /n/ after which, they are taught to blend them to make the word ‘man.’ Letter-sound correspondences are introduced quickly, including more difficult ones, but just one strategy (sounding out/ blending) is taught. This approach introduces a few high-frequency words containing irregularities (e.g. ‘the’, ‘was’, ‘said’) only after students have mastered the technique of reading simple regular words by converting letters into sounds and blending the sounds. The student’s attention is also drawn, to the parts of irregular words that are more regular i.e. the parts which incorporate letter-sound correspondence which they know and can be decoded phonetically. Analytic Phonics - Students are taught to analyze letter-sound relationships in words they know in order to decode new words. Analytic phonics starts with sight words and proceeds to an analysis of their parts – whole to part. In other words, children come to understand how to break words down rather than how to build them up. For example, students are taught the word ‘man’ after which, they are taught that the letter ‘m’ makes the beginning sound /m/ in ‘man.’ Analogy-based Phonics - Students are taught to note similarities or patterns in words that they know and use this to figure out unknown words. This approach uses word walls with previously taught words. For example, if a child comes to the unknown word ‘king’ the teacher points out that the word looks like ‘ring’ on the word wall. Using letter-sound correspondence for the ‘r’ and knowledge of the word “ring” the student can make the analogy and decode the word ‘king.’ It must be emphasized though that this approach should only be used when students know some letter-sound correspondences. Phonics through Spelling - In this approach, students learn to segment words into phonemes (sounds) and to make words by writing letters for phonemes. Embedded Phonics - In this approach, students learn vocabulary through explicit instruction in sound-symbol relationships during the reading of connected texts, usually when the teacher notices that a student or a group is struggling to read a particular word. Letter-sound relationships are taught as part of sight word reading. In many instances, there is no prescribed sequence of teaching sound–symbol relationships, but teaching is determined by whatever unfamiliar words are encountered in texts, therefore this approach is not systematic or explicit. 6

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PHONICS INSTRUCTION Onset-Rime Phonics Instruction – In this approach, students are taught to segment monosyllabic words by identifying the sound (s) of the consonant (s) preceding the first vowel in a word (the onset) and the remaining sounds in the word (rime). Students read each part separately and then blend the parts to say the whole word. For example, in the word set ‘s’ is the onset and ‘et’ is the rime GUIDELINES FOR PHONICS INSTRUCTION 1.

Introduce the most frequently occurring phonemes first Teach frequently occurring letter sounds such as /m/, /s/, /a/, and /i/ before less frequently occurring sounds such as /j/, /v/, /x/, and /z/. Vowel sounds should be taught early, along with sounds for the consonants b, c, d, f, h, m, n, p, r, s, and t. Teaching the most frequently occurring letter-sound correspondences first will help students in decoding and encoding.


Introduce vowels early, but teach consonants first Vowels are the most useful sounds and are essential for decoding words therefore, they need to be presented early. However, vowels are also difficult because they frequently do not present clear letter-sound correspondences. Thus, it is helpful to present consonants first because they tend to have clear one-to-one letter-sound correspondences. This does not mean that all consonants must be taught before vowels. With vowels, the short sound that occurs in most one-syllable words is the most common sound. The most frequently occurring sound is clear for most consonants (e.g., /b/ in banana, /d/ in dog, /m/ in man, and /t/ in tennis). Irregular consonant correspondences such as ‘c’ in ice, and ‘g’ in germ, and ‘s’ in ‘sure’ should be taught later, after the alphabetic principle is established.


Teach continuous sounds prior to stop sounds Continuous sounds can be voiced for several seconds without distortion (adding another sound). Allvowels and some consonants (for example, f, l, m, n, r, s, v, w, y, and z) are continuous sounds. Stop sounds primarily involve a puff of air and can be pronounced only briefly. Some letters with stop sounds are b, c, d, g, j, k, p, q, t, and x. Continuous sounds should be taught first because they are easier to pronounce, hear and blend.


Separate the teaching of letters and sounds that are similar Letters that are visually similar (e.g. b, p, and d; m and n; p and q; and v and w) should be temporarily spaced during instruction. Also, letters with similar sounds (/b/, /d/, and /p/; /e/ and /i/; /f/ and /v/; /m/ and /n/ and /u/ and /o/) should be separated for instruction. Teachers should ensure students have mastered one sound before introducing another. 7

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Teach sound blending early Once three (3) or more sounds have been taught, instruction in sound blending is appropriate. Initial letter-sound correspondences can be used to decode vowelconsonant (v-c) and consonant-vowel-consonant (c-v-c) words .When students can blend simple v-c and c-v-c letter- sounds into words, other word types (for e.g. c-c-v-c and c-v-v-c) should be introduced.


Alphabetic order is not ideal. The a-b-c sequencing of letter-sound presentation creates challenges for effective reading instruction because it fails to incorporate many of the key components listed above.


Introduce consonant blends When students have mastered the ability to blend c-v-c words that start with continuous sounds (e.g. fat) and c-v-c words that start with stop sounds (e.g. dig); words beginning with consonant blends (e.g. spot) are introduced. Next, words ending with consonant blends (e.g. sick) are taught.


Introduce consonant digraphs Each consonant sound is heard in a consonant blend however, in a digraph consecutive consonants join to represent one sound i.e. two graphemes represent one phoneme (e.g. /sh/. Digraphs occur in both initial and final positions in words.


Introduce regular words prior to irregular ones At the initial stage, instruction should focus on words that are consistent with phonics rules, in that, they are pronounced according to their most common sounds. Teach rules to help students identify patterns for letters to pronounce blends and digraphs.


Read connected texts that reinforce phonics patterns Phonics instruction is much more effective if students immediately read connected texts that reinforce the letter-sound correspondence being taught. For example, if the short ‘a’ sound is being taught, students should read stories or passages that highlight words containing the target sound.


Engage students in daily read aloud Share interesting or entertaining multicultural literature daily. This will reinforce sound-symbol correspondences and foster the enjoyment of reading.

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EXPLICIT PHONICS INSTRUCTION ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF PHONICS INSTRUCTION STEP 1 Begin instruction with phonemic awareness. These activities should help students to identify and manipulate phonemes (sounds) in spoken words.



Say the name of each picture. Place counters in the boxes to show the number of sounds heard. Place the red counter where the /a/ sound is heard.

STEP 2 Provide instruction that emphasizes letter-sound correspondences. Use activities that will help students to understand that there is a predictable relationship between phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (the letters that represent those sounds in written language).

STEP 3 Progress to instruction in blending and segmenting phonemes and graphemes. Provide a variety of activities that help students to accurately decode and recode new words using the ‘target phonics element(s).’

Instructions: Use the onset and rime cards to make words. Write each word on the line and say the word aloud.



Complete the Frayer Model below

STEP 4 Continue with activites that promote vocabulary development.These activities should help students to spell and pronounce words accurately. Teach specific skills to understand meanings of words in isolation and context.

How to make the sound


Short ‘a’ as in /a/




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STEP 5 Encourage fluency. Fluency is the ability to read words accurately and quickly. Use guided repeated oral reading, to encourage students to read passages out loud while providing systematic and explicit guidance and feedback. This will help to develop proficiency. Promote independent silent reading for students to build confidence.

STEP 6 Move into activities that teach comprehension strategies. Reading comprehension is the culmination of all of the reading skills and the ultimate goal of learning to read. Model critical thinking strategies and ask questions at all levels of comprehension.

STEP 7 Conclude with writing opportunities. Engage students in written activities that will help them to consolidate previous phonic knowledge, analyze and develop new insights about letters and sounds. Allow students to use newly learned phonics skills to create word banks, language experience stories and make journal entries.


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THE PHONICS CARDS PHONICS CARD FEATURES The Phonics Card set includes 44 colour-coded cards (Consonants - blue; Vowels magenta; Digraphs - green; Diphthongs - lime green and R-Controlled Vowels - brown. This organization makes them easy to use, as the need arises. Each card features:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

The title of the card indicating the phoneme. For example, the Short ‘A’ Sound Guidelines for the formation and spelling variation of each phoneme An instructional sentence to reinforce the pronunciation of the phoneme A picture which represents a word beginning with the ‘target’ the phoneme A word list with the target phoneme in the initial, medial or final position

The 44 phonemes are always shown in slash marks and the spelling (grapheme) of these sounds are presented in bold-type.

The 44 Sounds of English

Consonant Sounds 1. /b/ 2. /d/ 3. /f/ 4. /g/ 5. /h/ 6. /j/ 7. /k/ 8. /l/ 9. /m/ 10./n/ 11./p/ 12./r/ 13./s/ 14./t/ 15./v/ 16./w/ 17./y/ 18./z/

bun dog fish goat hat jar kangaroo lollipop map nest patty rat snake table van worm yam zipper

Vowel Sounds 26. /ă/ ackee 27. /ĕ/ elephant 28. /ĭ/ iguana 29. /ŏ/ orange 30. /ŭ/ umbrella 31. /ā/ angel 32. /ē/ eagle 33. /ī/ ice-cream 34. /ō/ oven 35. /ū/ utensils 36./Ə/ ladder R-Controlled Vowels 37. /ā(r)/ chair 38. /i(r)/ girl 39./ar/ car Vowel Diphthongs

Consonant Digraphs 19./ch/ cheese 20./sh/ sheep 21./zh/ treasure 22./th/ thermometer 23./th/ feather 24./hw/ whale 25./ng/ ring

40./aw/ saw 41./oi/ foil 42./ou/ house 43./oo/ moon 44./oo/ book


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Sound Formation

Instructional sentence

The title of the card indicating the target phoneme Examples of other spellings of the phoneme Word List with the ‘target’phoneme in the initial, medial or final position

Picture that represents a word beginning with the target sound

HOW TO USE THE PHONICS CARDS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.


Consult the Phonics Card Instructional Guide prior to the start of the lesson. If possible read other literature on phonics instruction. Plan lessons and make suitable teaching resources to support students’ needs. Practise with the cards, so that you know how to pronounce each phoneme correctly. Introduce and teach the target phoneme using guidelines for producing the sound, the instructional sentence and the word list. Engage students in activities that will reinforce the target phoneme and build conceptual understanding. Measure understanding using various authentic assessment tools.

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